High-SchoolMichigan: Must See

ESPNHS Baseball Players of the Week

April, 19, 2012
Here are this week's high school baseball players of the week. One player is chosen from each region of the country. The only other criteria is that no player will be chosen more than once during a season.

(After games of Tuesday, April 17)


Randy Rodriguez, George Washington (New York)
The Trojans' leadoff hitter had a monster week as GW captured the annual George Washington Tournament crown with a 5-1 record and avenged an early-season loss to rival Cardozo (Bayside, N.Y.) 6-0 in the title game. Rodriguez, a senior veteran, was selected the tournament MVP after going 12-for-18 in the six games, driving in eight runs and playing stellar defense at short.


Emerson Gibbs, Jesuit (New Orleans)
The senior pitcher, who got the save for the Blue Jays in last year’s Class 5A state final, posted the equivalent of a seven-inning perfect game within the team’s 2-1 victory in 18 innings last week over Archbishop Rummel (Metairie, La.). Gibbs retired 21 straight batters after the sixth inning of the marathon matchup. He ended up throwing 15 innings and 193 pitches. Those totals are legal in Louisiana, but would make the heads spin of many coaches around the country. Gibbs has signed with Tulane.


Alex Darr, University Liggett (Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich.)
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound senior right-handed pitcher/infielder is off to an impressive start for the defending Division 4 state champions. Last week, he struck out 30 batters in two wins, including a no-hitter in a 4-0 blanking of Clarenceville (Livonia, Mich.). In Liggett's home opener, Darr fanned 15 and allowed only two hits in a 13-0, five-inning win over Parkway Christian (Sterling Heights, Mich.). He also helped his own cause with a three-run first-inning homer. Later in the week, he fanned 15 in the win over Clarenceville for his second no-hitter of the season.


Sean Rubalcaba, Grand Junction (Colo.)
A familiar name for anyone who follows Colorado prep sports, Rubalcaba continued his hitting tear in a Tuesday game this week by going 4-for-5 with two doubles in a 19-12 victory over Montrose (Colo.). Rubalcaba, a three-sport athlete who was the winner of the prestigious Gold Helmet Award by the Denver Post, kept his season batting average at a hard-to-believe number (.673) and also raised his season total for doubles to 12. He had his fourth four-hit game of the season and in one of those games all four hits were doubles. Rubalcaba, who has a 3.9 GPA and totaled 2,449 yards of total offense last fall as Grand Junction’s quarterback, has signed to play football at Northern Colorado.


Kyle Twomey, El Dorado (Placentia, Calif.)
Pitching no-hitters is one thing, but doing it at the Hard 9 National Classic and for a third straight shutout is something else. Twomey tossed his no-hitter and struck out 14 for the Golden Hawks in a first-round game against Galena (Reno, Nev.). They eventually went on to win the tourney title with Twomey getting the save in a 4-2 victory over El Toro (Lake Forest, Calif.). He was named the tourney’s MVP. Earlier this week, Twomey pitched a three-hitter with nine strikeouts when El Dorado topped Esperanza (Anaheim, Calif.) 2-1 in a matchup between two state-ranked squads. The 6-foot-3 senior has signed with USC.

Get Familiar: Notre Dame verbal Steve Elmer

March, 5, 2012
Steve ElmerCourtesy of Chopper PhotographyMidland (Mich.) offensive tackle and Notre Dame commit Steve Elmer was named an ESPNHS Underclass All-American as a junior.
On the heels of a successful season, Midland junior Steve Elmer didn’t spent much time relaxing. Instead, he hit the weight room.

The Notre Dame recruit stands tall at 6-foot-6 and 315 pounds and is a formidable presence on the offensive line. And not many defenders have had success getting past Elmer.

But that doesn’t mean he’s resting on his laurels. For him, his senior season is a chance to get better, improve on his technique and work on making the transition to the college game.

It shouldn’t be a tough transition. The offensive tackle is on the ESPNU 150 Watch List and was named to the ESPNHS Underclass All-American team as a junior, a year in which he led Midland to a 9-2 record and a spot in a Division 1 district championship.

Colleges continue to send letters to Elmer with the hopes they can still sway him from his Notre Dame commitment. But Elmer said he’s solid with the Irish and is looking forward to a dominant senior campaign.

So what else did one of the nation’s top offensive linemen in the Class of 2013 have to say? It’s time to Get Familiar with Steve Elmer.

ESPNHS: What’s keeping you busy in the offseason?
Elmer: I’m working a lot in the weight room, just trying to stay in shape. I’ve been working on a lot of agility drills and technique and footwork drills.

ESPNHS: Your junior season was really a breakout year for you. In your mind, what changed from your sophomore season to this year?
Elmer: I definitely got better as a player. I got stronger and faster and knew our offense better and definitely had better technique. The difference was night and day. In my spring camp after my sophomore season, I worked a lot on pass sets and run blocking and first steps. I didn’t really work on that much before. This season, my pass protection was way better overall and my run blocking was better, too.

ESPNHS: You’re committed to Notre Dame, but there have been stories recently that said other schools have picked up their recruitment of you. Have you softened your stance?
Elmer: I think [the stories are a] little misleading. I’m 99 percent with Notre Dame, and that other one percent is just schools sending me letters and stuff. It’s pretty crazy. One person gives their take on my recruitment and the next thing you know, you’ve got all sorts of weird stories out there. But I’m still committed to Notre Dame.

ESPNHS: What was it you liked about Notre Dame that made you choose so early?
Elmer: It was everything about it, really. I love the campus a lot. I like the coaches and the people and the tradition and the academics. Everything was a perfect fit for me.

ESPNHS: Have the Notre Dame coaches talked with you at all about what they are looking for you to improve on in your senior season?
Elmer: Not really. It’s kind of a weird situation. I haven’t really met the new O-line coach (Harry Hiestand) in person. I’ve talked to him on the phone. But I’m waiting to talk to him in person about specific things. I just know they want me to get bigger and faster.

ESPNHS: What are some of your expectations for Midland, and for yourself, this season?
Elmer: I expect my team to have another good year. Hopefully no losses. We’re playing a tougher schedule this year and we’ll be facing some different programs, and we’re looking forward to that. I’d like to keep up on my technique for pass sets, and for run blocking I’d like to improve my blocks on linebackers. I don’t think I get quite low enough.

ESPNHS: What do you do in your spare time?
Elmer: I don’t have a ton of spare time. When I’m not working out, I’m doing homework. But I like to fish, I like to hang out with my friends and play video games.

ESPNHS: In recruiting circles, you’re practically a household name now. Have you been surprised by how much attention you’ve gotten?
Elmer: It’s been pretty cool. You go online or you read the newspaper and there’s stories about you all the time. And to be able to go to all the places I’ve been to and see new places, that’s definitely cool. I didn’t let it all get too overwhelming, though. I made my (college) decision early.

School: Midland (Mich.)
Class: 2013
Position: Offensive tackle
HT: 6-6
WT: 315
College: Notre Dame

Food: Barbecue ribs
Movie: “Good Will Hunting”
Athlete: Tim Tebow
Video Game: “Battlefield 3”
Musical Artist: Billy Joel

Christopher Parish is an associate editor with ESPNHS. You can follow him on Twitter @CParishESPN.

ESPNHS 100 goalie commits to UPenn

February, 8, 2012
Ahmed Iftikhar, Warrior 40Doug Austin/ESPNHSAhmed Iftikhar from Detroit Country Day (Beverly Hills, Mich.) at the 2011 Warrior 40 held in Boston, Mass.
Related Commitment Links: Most Recent Commits | Class of 2012 Boys | LaxPower Recruit Database

Detroit Country Day (Beverly Hills, Mich.) goalie Ahmed Iftikhar has confirmed to ESPNHS that he verbally committed to play men's lacrosse for the University of Pennsylvania.

Read More »

Super Bowl XLVI high school alumni

January, 31, 2012
Eli Manning, Tom BradyAP Photo, Serra High SchoolBefore they led their teams to Super Bowl XLVI, Eli Manning (left) and Tom Brady were high school standouts at Isidore Newman (New Orleans) and Junipero Serra (San Mateo, Calif.), respectively.

With signing day upon us and the the Super Bowl not far behind, it's a busy time for all levels of the game. Given that every player in Super Bowl XLVI played as a prep back in the day, we decided to break down the rosters for the New England Patriots and New York Giants by state and by high school.

Emerging superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski and fullback Lousake Polite of the Patriots are both from Woodland Hills (Pittsburgh). These two are also the only two players from Pennsylvania from the Patriots in this year's game.

For the Giants, star receiver Hakeem Nicks from Independence (Charlotte, N.C.) was part of the school's legendary 109-game win streak from 2000 to 2009 that still stands as the second-longest in U.S. history.

And with the Great State Debate still fresh on our minds, it's worth mentioning that California leads the way for Super Bowl participants this season with 13, while Florida (11) and Ohio (9) aren't far behind in the tally.

Giants LB Michael Boley (Elkmont)
Giants WR Jerrel Jernigan (Eufaula)
Giants DL Justin Tuck (Central Coosa County, Rockford)
Giants DL Osi Umenyiora (Auburn)

Giants DB Prince Amukamara (Apollo, Glendale)

Giants OL Mitch Petrus (Carlisle)

Giants WR Ramses Barden (Flintridge Prep, La Canada)
Patriots QB Tom Brady (Junipero Serra, San Mateo)
Giants QB David Carr (Stockdale, Bakersfield)
Patriots DB Patrick Chung (Rancho Cucamonga)
Patriots WR Julian Edelman (Woodside)
Patriots OL Logan Mankins (Mariposa)
Patriots DB Sterling Moore (Deer Valley, Antioch)
Giants TE Bear Pascoe (Granite Hills, Porterville)
Giants LB Spencer Paysinger (Beverly Hills)
Patriots WR Matthew Slater (Servite, Anaheim)
Giants DL Dave Tollefson (Ygnacio Valley, Concord)
Patriots RB Shane Vereen (Valencia)
Patriots OL Ryan Wendell (Diamond Bar)

Giants DB Derrick Martin (Thomas Jefferson, Denver)
Patriots OL Nate Solder (Buena Vista)

Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez (Bristol Central, Bristol)
Patriots LB Niko Koutouvides (Plainville)
Patriots OL Donald Thomas (Career Magnet, New Haven)

Giants OL David Baas (Riverview, Sarasota)
Giants OL Kevin Boothe (Pine Crest, Fort Lauderdale)
Giants DL Linval Joseph (Santa Fe, Alachua)
Patriots WR Chad Ochocinco (Miami Beach)
Giants DB Kenny Phillips (Carol City, Miami)
Giants DL Jason Pierre-Paul (Deerfield Beach)
Giants DB Antrel Rolle (South Dade, Homestead)
Giants K Lawrence Tynes (Milton)
Patriots DL Gerard Warren (Union County, Lake Butler)
Giants LB Jacquian Williams (Riverview, Sarasota)
Patriots DL Vince Wilfork (Santaluces, Lantana)

Patriots Deion Branch (Monroe, Albany)
Giants DB Deon Grant (Josey, Augusta)
Patriots LB Gary Guyton (Bradwell Institute, Hinesville)
Patriots DL Kyle Love (North Clayton, College Park)
Giants RB D.J. Ware (Rockmart)

Patriots DB Sergio Brown (Proviso East, Maywood)
Giants OL David Diehl (Brother Rice, Chicago)
Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich (Lincoln-Way Central, New Lenox)

Giants OL James Brewer (Arlington)
Giants LB Mathias Kiwanuka (Cathedral, Indianapolis)
Giants P Steve Weatherford (North Vigo, Terre Haute)

Giants DB Tyler Sash (Oskaloosa)

Patriots DL Brandon Deaderick (Elizabethtown)

Patriots RB Kevin Faulk (Carencro, Lafayette)
Patriots RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (St. Augustine, New Orleans)
Giants RB Brandon Jacobs (Assumption, Napoleonville)
Giants QB Eli Manning (Isidore Newman, New Orleans)
Giants DB Corey Webster (St. James)

Patriots DB Kyle Arrington (Gwynn Park, Brandywine)

Patriots DL Ron Brace (Burncoat, Worcester)
Giants LS Zak DeOssie (Phillips Academy, Andover)
Patriots DB James Ihedigbo (Amherst-Pelham Regional, Amherst)

Patriots OL Nick McDonald (Ford, Sterling Heights)
Giants WR Devin Thomas (Canton)

Patriots K Stephen Gostkowski (Madison Central, Madison)
Patriots RB Stevan Ridley (Trinity Episcopal, Natchez)

Patriots OL Dan Connolly (Marquette, Chesterfield)

Patriots LB Dane Fletcher (Bozeman)

Patriots RB Danny Woodhead (North Platte)

Giants WR Victor Cruz (Paterson Catholic, Paterson)
Patriots DB Nate Jones (Scotch Plains-Fanwood, Scotch Plains)
Patriots DB Devin McCourty (Saint Joseph Regional, Montvale)
Giants OL Kareem McKenzie (Willingboro)
Giants DL Justin Trattou (Don Bosco Prep, Ramsey)
Patriots WR Tiquan Underwood (Notre Dame, Lawrenceville)

Giants DL Jimmy Kennedy (Roosevelt, Yonkers)

Giants DL Chris Canty (Charlotte Latin, Charlotte)
Giants WR Hakeem Nicks (Independence, Charlotte)
Patriots LB Brandon Spikes (Crest, Shelby)

Giants TE Jake Ballard (Springboro)
Giants LB Chase Blackburn (Marysville)
Giants OL Jim Cordle (Lancaster)
Patriots QB Brian Hoyer (Saint Ignatius, Cleveland)
Giants LB Greg Jones (Archbishop Moeller, Cincinnati)
Patriots OL Matt Light (Greenville)
Patriots Zoltan Mesko (Twinsburg)
Giants WR Mario Manningham (Harding, Warren)
Patriots DB Antwaun Molden (Glenville, Cleveland)

Patriots DL Mark Anderson (Booker T. Washington, Tulsa)
Patriots WR Wes Welker (Heritage Hall, Oklahoma City)

Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski (Woodland Hills, Pittsburgh)
Giants LB Mark Herzlich (Conestoga, Berwyn)
Giants RB Henry Hynoski (Southern Columbia, Catawissa)
Patriots RB Lousaka Polite (Woodland Hills, Pittsburgh)
Giants RB Da'Rel Scott (Plymouth Whitemarsh, Plymouth Meeting)
Giants OL Chris Snee (Montrose)

Giants DB Will Blackmon (Bishop Hendricken, Warwick)

Patriots DL Shaun Ellis (Westside, Anderson)
Patriots LB Tracy White (Timberland, St. Stephen)

Giants DL Rocky Bernard (Sterling, Baytown)
Patriots OL Marcus Cannon (Odessa)
Patriots QB Ryan Mallett (Texas, Texarkana)
Giants DB Aaron Ross (Tyler)
Giants OL Tony Ugoh (Westfield, Houston)
Patriots OL Brian Waters (Waxahachie)
Patriots DB Malcolm Williams (South Grand Prairie, Grand Prairie)

Patriots LS Danny Aiken (Cave Spring, Roanoke)
Giants RB Ahmad Bradshaw (Graham, Bluefield)
Patriots LB Jerod Mayo (Kecoughtan, Hampton)

Giants TE Travis Beckum (Oak Creek)

Note: List does not include OL Sebastian Vollmer of the Patriots, who is not from a U.S. high school (Germany); Rob Gronkowski attended Williamsville North (Williamsville, N.Y.) before transferring to Woodland Hills for his senior year

Elite 11 Watch: Star southpaw Shane Morris

January, 12, 2012

Throughout this offseason, we’ll spotlight Class of 2013 quarterbacks who have a shot at making the Elite 11 finals in July. This week we profile De La Salle (Warren, Mich.) standout and Michigan commit Shane Morris.

Some of the nation’s most impressive quarterbacks were at the same Elite 11 regional camp last May at Ohio State. It was a list that included Chad Kelly, Gunner Kiel and Jameis Winston. But one of the most impressive recruits in the competition was an underclassman. Warren De La Salle signal-caller Shane Morris stood out thanks to a unique combination of arm strength and a quick, accurate delivery. Having completed his junior season, Morris is looking forward to his opportunity to return to the event and vie for a spot in the finals. The standout QB talked to us about last year’s event and his expectations for this year.

ESPNHS: What was your impression of the Elite 11 camp you attended last year?
Morris: It was an awesome event. Being at Ohio State and having some of the top quarterbacks from the Class of 2012, being around that competition, that was great. I loved that atmosphere and I had a great time just learning from other kids and coaches. We had outstanding coaches. The whole experience was great.

ESPNHS: What are some of the things you learned?
Morris: I was really taking in the stuff they were telling us about not forcing every throw. I don’t have to throw it that hard. If I take a little off and really focus on the accuracy, I have a strong enough arm to get it there with great velocity. So I’ve been concentrating on that in the offseason, and I used it quite a bit this season. I feel like it helped me a lot.

ESPNHS: How do you think your experience at the event will help you at this year’s event?
Morris: My QB coach had gone down to the event with me, and we both learned a lot of stuff from the warmups we were doing and the drills, how do do three-step and five-step drops correctly, and we went back and incorporated a lot of that stuff into our workouts. Hopefully I can take a lot of that knowledge this year and get myself into the Elite 11 final in California.

ESPNHS: What are some of the things you've been working on this offseason?
Morris: So far a lot of three-step and five-step drop work. I’m working on my stance, getting my hips turned around when I throw, stuff like that. I’m not leaving any little thing to chance. I’m even working on handing the ball off to the running back and taking the snap from under center. I’m not going to overlook any little thing. I’m never good enough in my opinion.

ESPNHS: It seems like that’s a pattern for you, that you’re never satisfied. Is that what motivates you?
[+] EnlargeShane Morris
Steve Johnson/ESPNHSThe Michigan-bound Morris has a big arm and a big personality.
Morris: Oh definitely. Last year at Elite 11, they told me I did really well. I was second behind Gunner Kiel. But with them telling me that, I walked out of there and I knew I had made some bad throws and I could have thrown a better spiral. My dad was telling me I did great, but I know I could have been better.

ESPNHS: What were some of your thoughts as you watched Michigan in the Sugar Bowl?
Morris: It was an awesome game. The way they played, it just really shows what the seniors went though for the past few years and what they overcame this year. Those seniors had a lot of pride.

ESPNHS: Finally, what are some of the things you’re most looking forward to about your senior season?
Morris: Just being with my classmates, really. We went through a lot these past few years. And finally being able to play against kids my own age. I’ve always played against kids three or four years older than me. I think it’s going to be kind of fun. All of the seniors with me who have been playing together since we were freshmen on varsity, we’re finally going to play against kids who are 18 just like us. And our focus is going to be winning our school its first state championship. So that’ll be a lot of fun.

School: De La Salle (Warren, Mich.)
Position: QB
Class: 2013
2011 Team Record: 9-3 (Lost in Division I regional final)

2011 Stats
Completions-Attempts: 121-235 (.515)
Yards: 1,684
TD: 19
INT: 7
Rushing Yards: 150
Rushing TDs: 6