Recruiting Rundown: Two commits advance in playoffs

By Jake Lourim, Daily Sports Writer
Published November 18, 2013

Michigan target Da’Shawn Hand dealt the Wolverines a major blow to the 2014 recruiting class when he put on an Alabama hat and said “Roll Tide!” on Thursday.

Hand, the No. 1 overall recruit according to, was leaning toward Michigan, according to many experts. When he committed to Alabama, he bolstered the Crimson Tide’s No. 1 class and hurt Michigan’s, leaving the Wolverines with four-star defensive lineman Malik McDowell (Southfield, Mich.) as their best remaining defensive-line target.

The news wasn’t all bad for Michigan, though. Four recruits — linebacker Michael Ferns, quarterback Wilton Speight, defensive back Brandon Watson and wide receiver Freddy Canteen — signed their national letters of intent last week, meaning they can participate in spring practice as early enrollees.

Only five 2014 recruits remained in their teams’ state playoffs going into the weekend. Here’s an overview of how they did:

Jabrill Peppers, defensive back/running back: Paramus Catholic (N.J.) 55, Notre Dame (N.J.) 14; Ranking: ESPN (2) Scout (4)

Peppers scored on a nine-yard run and a 50-yard punt return to lead No. 4 Paramus Catholic to a 41-0 first-quarter lead and a 55-14 win. He sat out for most of the last three quarters as his team advanced to the semifinals of the New Jersey Non-Public Group IV tournament. The win sets up a showdown Saturday against No. 2 Don Bosco Prep, where Peppers played his freshman year before transferring to Paramus Catholic.

Wilton Speight, quarterback: Collegiate School (Va.) 19, Liberty Christian (Va.) 31; Ranking: ESPN (128) Scout (NR)

Speight’s playoff run ended last week with a loss to Liberty Christian in the state title game. He completed 14 of 27 passes for 152 yards and four interceptions. The yardage and interceptions were his worst numbers of the season. He did, however, throw three touchdown passes for 56, six and eight yards, accounting for all of Collegiate’s scoring.

Chase Winovich, linebacker/running back: Thomas Jefferson (Pa.) 13, Central Valley (Pa.) 23; Ranking: (NR)

Winovich rushed for 142 yards and a touchdown in defeat. Thomas Jefferson’s season and 11-game winning streak ended in the Western Pennsylvania Class AAA semifinals.

Maurice Ways, wide receiver: Country Day (Mich.) 28, Marine City (Mich.) 33; Ranking: (NR)

Ways caught a 48-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter of Country Day’s loss in the Michigan Division 4 quarterfinals. Marine City scored the game-winning touchdown pass with 45 seconds left to eliminate the Yellow Jackets.

Noah Furbush, linebacker: Kenton (Ohio) 46, Triway (Ohio) 6; Ranking: (NR)

Furbush recovered a fumble as Kenton advanced to the third round of the Ohio Division IV state playoffs. Last week, Furbush was named the Western Buckeye League’s defensive lineman of the year and won first-team All-League honors. His team, which has outscored its opponents this season by a combined score of 556-92, faces a showdown against fellow unbeaten Bryan (Ohio) on Friday.