Michigan commits stir it up at NFTC

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Although they arrived a little late, future teammates James Ross (Orchard Lake, Michigan/St. Mary's Prep) and Terry Richardson (Detroit, Mich./Cass Tech) managed to make an immediate splash Saturday at the Columbus NFTC.

The two Michigan commits walked into Ohio State's football complex sporting Michigan hats.

"I guess it was planned a little," Richardson joked. "We figured we might as well represent our school."

Subsequently, when Richardson tried to get stretched by one of the Ohio State athletic trainers working the event, he was denied. A tight hamstring from participating in a track meet Friday kept Richardson on the sidelines most of the day.

"Yeah, she said something like if she helped me stretch, everyone would ask her to stretch them out," Richardson said. "But I see how it is; we came in here with these hats so you have to expect a few stares."

On the football field, Ohio State's dominance over Michigan has lasted nearly a decade but Ross believes things are ready to change.

"I know we already have a strong offense and with Coach [Greg] Mattison on defense I know he's going to be aggressive and allow the young guys to compete," Ross said. "This coaching staff is going to change everything."

Richardson agreed with the confidence in the new staff and said that their commitment to the players in his home state made his decision that much easier.

"Coach [Brady] Hoke and his staff are taking care of the players in our house," Richardson said. "They are coming after the Michigan players first and that's what's going to bring us back to the top."

Pike bounces back
After a rough day during the Elite 11 regional camp on Friday, quarterback Zeke Pike (Edgewood, Ky./Dixie Heights) returned to Columbus for Saturday's NFTC and and the Auburn commit performed better.

While frustrated with his efforts Friday, Pike says it was a valuable learning experience and something he had to work through.

"I just had one of those days and that's part of being a quarterback," Pike said. "You have a day where you don't throw the ball well or you aren't hitting your routes. But it happens to the Peyton Mannings and Tom Bradys, it happens to everybody and you have to bounce back.

"That's why I came back. I felt like I had something to prove and I wanted to show people that I can't be judged on one bad day."

Overall Pike's offseason has been one to remember as the 6-foot-5, 235-pounder committed to Auburn last month and plans on spending much of his summer convincing some of the top players in the nation to join him.

"I'm going to be heading to the campus next weekend for the Big Cat day and there will be a lot of recruits there," Pike said. "There are so many guys in the South that are good, so I talk to as many as I can. I'm not pressuring anyone but just letting them know I'd love for them to come on board."

Family connections
Defensive back Bam Bradley (Trotwood, Ohio/Trotwood-Madison) has offers from Cincinnati, Michigan State, Northwestern, Penn State, Stanford and Vanderbilt. But one program is hoping to use the lure of family to bring him in the fold.

"Pitt is on me pretty strong right now," Bradley said. "My brother signed with Pitt last year and I know they are hoping that connection will lead me there."

Bradley's brother, Nicholas Grigsby, was part of Pitt's 2011 recruiting class. The 6-foot, 195-pounder says the Panthers do have a bit of an upper hand.

"They definitely have a little bit of an inside track because of my brother," Bradley said. "But he doesn't pressure me about a decision. He tells me what he liked about Pitt and what he chose to go there but he wants me to go where I want to be and if that isn't Pitt, it's OK."

Bradley is being recruited as a strong safety, free safety and even a hybrid "bandit" safety by some programs. Whatever the position he says he's happy to be on the field in any capacity as long as he can compete but he's just as concerned about what's happening off the field.

"My first thing is academics; I want to go to a school where the education speaks for itself," Bradley said. "That's why I'm looking at Stanford and Vanderbilt and schools like that."

Stanford plans to trip to Michigan
Under Armor All-American wide receiver Dwayne Stanford II (Cincinnati, Ohio/Taft) has been relatively quiet this offseason but that's going to change over the next few months.

"Next week I plan to go to Michigan," Stanford said. "And in June I'm going to hit the road and see these campuses so I can trim my choices."

The 6-3, 187-pounder says he'll definitely be going to camps at Notre Dame, Kentucky and Florida State.
He is also in regular communication with Ohio State, Alabama, Purdue, LSU, Miami and USC.

"My coach will be working a lot of the camps so I'm going to go with him," Stanford said. "I'm definitely looking for a good atmosphere and hopefully I can talk with the coaches and see what their plans are for me."

Stanford says that he is a great fit for a pro-style offense and takes pride in his ability to assist in the running game with his downfield blocking. As for Saturday's camp, it was a chance for him to see where he is as a top-level prospect.

"I want to be at a point where I'm the best and I know I can come out here and dominate," Stanford added. "Right now I have a lot of things to work on and this camp is helping me with that."

Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at coreyespn@gmail.com.