April 1, 2008

Future Wolverines dominated 2007 competition

A Cass Tech rival, Detroit Renaissance fell to the Technicians 21-14 during the 2007 season. Michigan commitments Teric Jones and Will Campbell were a big reason why Tech won, showing the immense talent that should translate to success in Ann Arbor …

A 5-10, 190-pound running back, Jones spent most of the 2007 campaign as Indiana-bound tailback Cortez Smith's understudy. However, against the Phoenix, he starred, rushing for 83 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries (10.4 yards per carry), including a 55-yard scoring romp. Defensively, he also notched six tackles, a sack among the stops, while causing a fumble.

"If he was the main back, I think he would have had a big year and wouldn't as underrated as he probably is right now," Renaissance assistant coach Antoine Edwards said. "He was really fast. He scored on a very long run, using that speed to get to the end zone. He didn't get a ton of carries, but every run seemed to stand out. On defense, he got after our quarterback - he had a great game overall."

Jones finished with less than 500 yards rushing last year, but as the featured back this fall, should equal (and most likely surpass) the 1,073 yards Smith finished with in 2007. Even if he doesn't star, though, as a senior, he has a bright future at Michigan. The versatile athlete could play a number of positions.

"I've seen him in some 7-on-7's and he can catch really well," Edwards said. "With his speed, toughness and hands he's probably a jack-of-all-trades kind of guy. He can carry the ball, but he could be used a lot like Florida uses Percy Harvin or how West Virginia used Steve Slaton last year. He's probably more like Slaton because he's a bit more of an unknown at the moment. But he just has a chance to be something special because he'll fit into that system perfectly."

While Jones' success against the Phoenix was a bit surprising - he had rushed for a mere 34 yards in the two games prior - Campbell's play was expected. The 6-4, 327-pound five-star lineman dominated defensively, and offensively also. He finished with seven tackles, including a sack, and paved the way for a 233-yard rushing output.

"Big Will seemed to have a grudge against us," Edwards said. "I saw him against King and a few other schools and he was good, but he was super motivated against us and there was nothing we could do. He's too big, too strong, too quick in high school to stop him - he was unblockable."

Campbell finished the year with 64 tackles, including seven quarterback takedowns. He proved unstoppable when he wanted to be.

"When he wants to, he can dominate," Edwards said. "When he doesn't want to … well, he's still a very good player. He has Shaun Rogers-type talent but maybe a bit of the same attitude. If he gets fired up for every game, he can be a force. He's already ahead of the kid that went to LSU, Joseph Barksdale, in terms of ability, being in shape, and motivation.

"He has a mean streak. When he was getting off the bus for our game he was already talking smack and I knew we were in trouble. If the Michigan coaches can harness that energy and motivate him every week, you watch out - he'll do some big things."

Cass Tech went 5-4 a year ago, but with Jones, Campbell and quarterback Thomas Gordon returning for their senior seasons, should be a favorite for the city title.

"Big Will just keeps getting better and better, and leaner and leaner," Edwards said. "He can be the best player in the state this year. With Jones, I think the offer and commitment to Michigan will really motivate him to have a great year. Both kids are hard workers. They're not prima donnas. I think they'll each have a great senior year."

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