It is an above-average year for high school talent in Michigan. The class of 2011 doesn't feature a lot of great players but there are several who are being recruited by Big 10 schools. Two of the top six prospects already are committed and Michigan and Michigan State appear to be doing their best to keep the homegrown players at home.
Michigan's No. 1 player is 6-4, 240-pound inside linebacker Lawrence Thomas of Renaissance High School in Detroit. He committed to Michigan State after being offered by USC, Florida, Miami, Alabama, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Ohio State. He is a great catch for Michigan State. He had 19 sacks as a junior. He's a playmaker, the state's most highly recruited player, a difference-maker on defense.
The best running back in Michigan is 5-10, 187-pound Justice Hayes of Grand Blanc, who has been offered by Notre Dame and every Big 10 school. He runs 100 meters in 10.7 seconds. He is very elusive and has great speed, balance and vision. Michigan, Michigan State, Tennessee and Notre Dame are his favorites.
The best wide receiver is 6-0, 167-pound DeAnthony Arnett of Saginaw, the school that sent Charlie Rogers to the NFL. He has 4.4 speed with great leaping ability. He has been offered by all the Big 10 schools, Notre Dame, USC, Alabama and Tennessee. He runs great routes and has great hands.
The top defensive lineman in the state is 6-4, 260-pound Anthony Zettel of West Branch. He was credited with 18 tackles for loss last season. He also could play offensive tackle. Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, Iowa, Purdue and Wisconsin have offered.
The best kicker in the Midwest is 6-2, 215-pound Kyle Brindza of Canton. He also is the best soccer player in the state. He averaged 48 yards per punt last season. His longest field goal was a 49-yarder. He committed to Notre Dame over Michigan. An outstanding athlete, he also is a shot putter and 200-meter sprinter on the track and field team. Notre Dame hasn't recruited a punter/kicker of his talent since Lockport's Nick Setta.
Brindza also is an outstanding student. He has the grades and credits to leave school early and Michigan tried to persuade him to do just that. But he opted to stay and committed to Notre Dame.
Northwestern, Wisconsin, Michigan and Michigan State have offered 6-0, 185-pound running back/cornerback Valdez Showers of Madison Heights. He prefers to play running back but many schools are recruiting him as a cornerback.
Kenny Knight, a 6-4, 195-pound wide receiver from Detroit Country Day, has offers from Wisconsin, Indiana and Minnesota. He is the big sleeper in the state.
Conor Hart, a 6-3, 250-pound defensive end from Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice, has several MAC offers. He is waiting for the Big 10 to offer. Hart is the grandson of former Notre Dame legend and Heisman Trophy winner Leon Hart. His father Kevin was a tight end at Notre Dame in the late 1970s. Up to now, however, Notre Dame hasn't offered.
Brennen Beyer, a 6-4, 215-pound defensive end from Canton, has committed to Michigan. He is among the top five players in the state.
Taiwan Jones, a 6-3, 215-pound safety/running back from Fair Haven, is committed to Michigan State. He is one of the state's top 10 players. He likely will grow into a linebacker.
Onaje Miller, a 5-11, 180-pound running back from Lansing, is committed to Michigan State.
And quarterback Alex Niznak, a 6-3, 215-pounderfrom Ithaca, is the biggest sleeper among all the quarterback prospects in the Midwest. He is the best QB in Michigan but has only MAC offers to date.