1. McDowell leads the way in 2014
In a year when nearly every state in the Midwest boasts an above average talent pool, the state of Michigan is the one exception with a slightly below average crop in 2013.
Early indications suggest the Great Lakes State will bounce back in a big way in 2014 with Sturgis quarterback Chance Stewart
, Grand Rapids Christian wide receiver Drake Harris
, Farmington Hills Harrison running back Lorenzo Collins
and Detroit Cass Tech wide receiver Damon Webb
already serving notice that they are major talents.
The headliner of Michigan's 2014 class, however, very well may be Detroit Loyola defensive end Malik McDowell
. At 6-6 and 260 pounds, McDowell dominated Sunday's Midwest Elite Big Man Camp with uncanny speed and agility for a player his size and age. He was faster, stronger and more athletic than nearly every player in attendance, but is nowhere near reaching his potential.
As a junior, McDowell did earn first-team all-state honors in Division 7-8, but he spent a lot of time at the offensive tackle position. His off-seasons are spent on a basketball court, not in a weight room, and that shows as well. Although proportioned well and adequately thick, McDowell does not have the muscle definition of year-round football player. That means he is nowhere near his ceiling, and considering how good he is already, that fact is remarkable.
Like Harris, McDowell is also considered a potential college prospect on the basketball court (though not to the level of Harris, a four-star hoops recruit who already holds offers from Michigan State
). Football, however, appears to be his route to the college ranks because 6-6, 260 is great size for a defensive end, but not so much for a post player. Time on the court has no doubt helped develop McDowell's footwork and overall athleticism - traits he displayed in bulk on Sunday.
After talking with the emerging 2014 star, it is obvious he has little idea what is in store for him in the next 24 months before he is able to sign his letter of intent. McDowell is a confident, yet wide-eyed young man who is about to be the focus on a major recruiting battle.