This is the season before the season, and Michigan Wolverines coach Brady Hoke isn’t letting up when it comes to stockpiling talent for the 2014 class.
Now entering his third year in Ann Arbor, Hoke has continued his trend of efficient and effective recruiting by landing the commitment of Detroit Country Day wide receiver Maurice Ways, a 6’4”, 195-pound, 3-star rated prospect.
Ways hasn’t received as much admiration and praise when compared to other high-end metro Detroit juniors, but that doesn’t negate the fact that he’s a borderline 4-star that’s flown, somewhat, under the radar.
Carrying a rating of 87, Ways is essentially three points away from being ranked as a 4-star commodity using 247Sports’ system, which typically has players rated at 90 or above tabbed as 4-star talents.
For all intents and purposes, Ways is basically another four-star recruit that adds depth and dimension to a wide receiving corps that already has Drake Harris on the way. Harris is the nation’s No. 4-ranked wide receiver of the 2014 class and has been the most talked about recruit in Michigan thus far.
Ways, however, could be mentioned with more frequency in prep football recruiting circles now that he’s committed to Michigan, which has a top-10 class shaping up due to a handful of pledges from other four-star juniors.
Ways’ skill set is undeniable. It’s difficult to fathom the fact that he’s barely considered as one of the top 10 juniors (seniors-to-be) in Michigan.
The following video (via YouTube user yarberry32) will certainly display Ways’ mobility. Before watching, be sure to look for Ways’ performance in a few key areas: 1. Long-distance receptions, 2. Catches in traffic, 3. Using size as an advantage.
Ways Goes Deep
At 30 seconds, you’ll see Detroit Country Day inch up tight to the line of scrimmage. Ways, lined up at the bottom, is 6’4” and has a long stride – both difficult to contend.
Ways has no trouble torching down field to grab the long ball and rattles off an 80-yard touchdown without being touched by a single member of the secondary.
What does that mean for Michigan?
The Wolverines are matching wide receivers with the types of quarterbacks that they’re bringing in to Ann Arbor.
Wilton Speight enters in 2014, and the 6’6”, 220-pound junior is among the top pro-stylers of his class. Shane Morris, once considered the No. 2 pro-style quarterback of the 2013 class, has an arm built for the deep ball too.
Offensive coordinator Al Borges will have possibilities by the droves when it comes to selecting packages to run with his new, taller, faster and stronger wideouts. Harris and Ways, along with 2013 recruit Jaron Dukes, are 6-foot-plus, big-bodied targets who will certainly find the means necessary to make their quarterbacks look even better.
Ways’ Height Will Be a Factor
Of course college receivers—especially those who play at elite programs like Michigan—have to be able to “go up and get it.”
The play at 1:04 isn’t anything new. It’s a typical scenario when a quarterback knows that his wide receiver is better than the other guy—or the other two guys, in this case.
Detroit Country Day signal-caller Tyler Weigers, a three-star Rutgers commit, simply throws the ball where only Ways can come down with it—and it works to perfection, as Ways’ superb grab between two defensive backs shows.
In the playoffs, Detroit Country Day, Division 4 title runner-up, benefited from Ways’ speed on the sidelines. Again, that’s key for wide receivers at the higher levels. Possessing the ability to stretch the field is one of Ways’ specialties, evidenced by his over-the-shoulder touchdown grab from Weigers at the 1:25 mark.
At 3:40, Ways’ height again comes to the forefront. Weigers easily connects with Ways for a sizeable gain. The undersized defensive backs never had much of a chance of making an on-the-spot tackle—they had to catch up with Ways several yards down the field.
Ways Should Close Door on WR Until 2015
Now that Ways is secure, Michigan doesn’t have to add another receiver for at least another year. Don’t forget about 2012 commit Amara Darboh – the former 4-star prep made a great impression on Michigan’s coaching staff during spring scrimmages.
Jehu Chesson, a three-star commit from 2012’s class, also attracted praise.
As mentioned above, Dukes is on board via the 2013 class that also features Da’Mario Jones and Csont’e York. The Wolverines will likely only have to grab up to a pair of wideouts from the 2015 and 2016 classes, leaving plenty of energy to focus on getting four- and five-star talents.
Follow Bleacher Report’s Michigan Wolverines football writer Adam Biggers on Twitter @AdamBiggers81