Today we announce the first annual Spartan Nation Michigan High School Football Top Twenty. Hondo and I have reviewed game film and have spoken to various individuals throughout the state about the prospects we have listed below. The 2008 state of Michigan recruits are a strong overall class with the top twenty all having truly star potential. The asterisk after their position denotes that the player is the top prospect at their given position in the state. We do not give players “stars” or numerical rankings, just their talent versus their peers in the state of Michigan. This process as most of you know is not an exact science; remember that we are ranking high school kids. Anything can happen throughout 4-5 years of college football. We hope that you enjoy our insight.

1. Nick Perry, 6’4” 240 lbs, OLB* / DE, (uncommitted) Detroit MLK
The battle for Michigan’s top recruit appears to be going down to the wire. MSU was thought to be the team to beat for Mr. Perry’s services, but USC has made a late push for the star linebacker and it will likely be a recruiting dogfight until signing day. He is lightening fast and gets to the quarterback with ease. He is the best pure defensive prospect from the state of Michigan since Lamarr Woodley. He will likely play early wherever he goes. Signing day prediction: MSU

2. Kenny Demens, 6’1” 225 lbs, OLB, Michigan, Detroit Country Day
Kenny is an outstanding linebacker with excellent closing speed. He is one of the fastest players in a 10-yard box. Demens will likely play OLB at Michigan and has the physical tools to create match-up problems on the edge. He will remind many of the Wolverine faithful of Ian Gold. He will find his way to the field early as he is physically mature and has good football instincts.

3. Fred Smith, 6’3” 210 lbs, WR*, MSU, Detroit Southeastern
Smith may be the best all around athlete in the 2008 class. Fred possesses 4.4 speed in the forty and will likely play an extensive role in Mark Dantonio’s offense as a true freshman. In addition to being a big receiver, Smith is a legitimate basketball talent. The verdict is out whether Smith plays both sports at MSU, but certainly has the athleticism to be one of the best receivers to wear a green jersey. He will be a “jump-ball” mismatch in the endzone.

4. Dan O’Neill, 6’8” 295 lbs, OT*, Michigan, Grand Haven
The Jake Long comparisons have already hit the message boards and rightfully so. O’Neill is an oak tree that has yet to grow completely into his 6’8” frame. He is the type of tackle that is suited to “old-school” smash mouth football. It is going to be very interesting to see how O’Neill fares in M-Rod’s spread option. O’Neill is the perfect tackle to play in a power-I offense with a traditional Ryan Mallett type of drop back passer. How will the new Michigan offensive system accommodate Dan O’Neill?

5. Mike Martin, 6’2”, 280lbs, DT*, Michigan, Detroit Catholic Central
Martin is Mr. Motor. He is running on all cylinders all of the time. He is the perfect interior DL and will wreak havoc on opposing centers and guards. He is physically mature and strong as a bull. He is one of those guys that will fit any defensive scheme and has a knack for creating interior piles. He is outstanding after first contact and has the ability to take the interior running game away from opponents. Mike Martin will be a star.

6. Tyler Hoover, 6’7”, 265lbs, DE*, MSU, Novi
Hoover may be the most impressive physical specimen in the 2008 class. At 6’7”, Hoover is a mismatch for opposing offenses. Hoover’s early enrollment at MSU will likely land him in the two-deep at DE after the spring game. It is rumored that Hoover has run a sub-4.6 forty at more than one summer football camp. His size makes him a natural on the edge to take QB passing lanes away and should have his share of tipped passes and sacks.

7. Mark Ingram Jr., 5’10”, 205 lbs, RB* / ATH (uncommitted), Flint SWA
The old saying is speed kills. Well, Mr. Ingram has speed to burn. He is one of the fastest men on both the track and the football field. Ingram Jr. is the top running back prospect in the state of Michigan and has the ability to play a variety of positions at the next level. Ingram is keeping his recruitment open with multiple schools still firmly in the mix. Ingram is physically mature and will likely play early wherever he goes. Signing day prediction: MSU

8. Charles Burrell, 6’0” 205 lbs, SS* / ATH, MSU, Detroit Southeastern
Burrell did most of his damage in high school running the football and throwing passes to teammate Fred Smith. Burrell will play safety at MSU and his game film quickly shows you why. Even when Burrell is handling the ball on offense he is a physical player that likes to create contact. MSU will likely get him on the field early as a safety and a special teams player. Burrell may be the most underrated player by recruiting services in the state of Michigan.

9. Deon’tae Pannell, 6’5”, 300 lbs, OL, Penn State, Birmingham Groves
Pannell is a big rangy offensive lineman that has the athleticism to play both guard and tackle. Will likely redshirt in Penn State’s system and play extensively as a redshirt sophomore. His versatility makes him a ‘can’t miss’ on the recruiting trail. Like all offensive lineman, he must get bigger and stronger. He will do both as a five-year player at PSU. He is arguably the most nimble OL in the state for his size.

10. Jonas Gray, 5’10” 205 lbs, RB, Notre Dame, Detroit Country Day
Most recruiting services had Jonas as the top player in the state before the season started. His stock went down his senior year and his recruitment was that of a rollercoaster ride. Gray looked to be an MSU lock early and then committed to Nebraska. The coaching change in Lincoln gave Gray a change of heart and opted to play closer to home. Charlie Weiss will give Gray an opportunity to carry the ball. Gray is a powerful running back that is lethal running straight ahead. He is a little elusive, but not shifty like Javon Ringer. Jonas reminds me a lot of Little-John Flowers.

11. Boubacar Cissoko, 5’8” 175, CB*, Michigan, Detroit Cass Tech
Cissoko is probably the most overrated player in the state. I believe that Boubacar’s early commitment to Michigan guaranteed him a place among the elite names with recruiting services. He is currently the best defensive back in the state, but others will likely prove to be better over their four years as Cissoko is only 5’8” tall. Look for wide receivers like Fred Smith to exploit Cissoko’s size in the coming years. To Cissoko’s credit, he has excellent change of direction and has natural ability to close on the football. If Cissoko can make up for his lack of size, he will be star. I just don’t think he is the next Charles Woodson waiting in the wings. We shall see.

12. Caulton Ray, 5’9”, 185 lbs, RB, MSU, Birmingham Brother Rice
Ray is a scat back with quick feet and that extra gear that allows him to turn the corner. Caulton is a good athlete and could play both offense and defense. He will likely redshirt if he is to remain a running back. Ray has been timed at 4.4 seconds in the forty and runs well in traffic. He will need to get bigger and stronger and should be a finished product at 200 pounds.

13. Ethan Ruland, 6’4” 265 lbs, OG, MSU, Lake Orion
Let me start out by saying, I love this kid’s film. He is exactly what MSU needs in their system at offensive guard. Ruland will get a redshirt and a diet of protein while at MSU. He has solid footwork and is notorious for putting his man on the ground. He will need to get bigger and stronger and will probably play OG for MSU between 290 and 300 pounds. Has solid technique, plays low to the ground and enjoys the game. Could see playing time as a RS freshman.

14. Rocko Khoury, 6’6”, 280 lbs, OL, Michigan, Traverse City West
Khoury is another kid that I really like. Possess a large frame with room to grow. In addition to having the coolest name (Rocko) in the 2008 class, Khoury has the ability to play both guard and tackle. I am going to go out on a limb and say that Wolverine fans will ultimately see Khoury become one of the gems in their 2008 class. What Rocko does in the weight room in the next two years will have a huge impact on his development. He is likely to redshirt and should contribute in his third year.

15. Anthony Woods, 6’4” 315, OL, MSU, Melvindale
Anthony Woods has a big body and a great deal of upside. He plays well as an offensive lineman in space picking up additional blocks downfield. Anthony will likely play offensive guard at MSU and will likely contribute in year three as a redshirt sophomore. Like all high school offensive lineman, Woods must learn to play with better technique and get bigger and stronger. Great program kid that will find his way into the rotation with solid coaching and a blue-collar work ethic.

16. Jonathan Dandridge, 6’1” 175lbs, DB, Minnesota, Highland Park
Dandridge has that rare combination of size, speed and agility. He will likely play corner back at Minnesota and has the ability to become a prototype physical DB. Dandridge has room to add weight and will likely add 15-20 good pounds to compete with the physical receivers in the Big Ten.

17. Glenn Winston, 6’1” 215, LB / ATH, MSU, Detroit Denby
Winston is a solid all around athlete. He is so valuable because he is so versatile. He will likely play OLB while at MSU. He has running back and safety speed and likes to create contact. As old George would say, “he’s just a football player.”

18. Keshawn Martin, 6’0”, 180 lbs, WR, MSU, Westland John Glenn
Martin arrived on the recruiting scene late. He was not visible in summer camps and therefore went virtually unknown. MSU did an excellent job of evaluating Martin early and got a commitment from Keshawn before others started knock at his door. Martin is rumored to run a 4.4 forty-yard dash and catches the ball well in space. Will likely redshirt as a freshman.

19. Chris McDonald, 6’5”, 260 lbs, OL / DL, MSU, Utica Ford
McDonald is one of those kids that belongs in a green uniform. He is a solid lineman that will likely end up on the offensive side of the football. He has been timed at under 4.7 seconds in the forty yard dash and could develop into a very diverse all around contributor on the offensive front. McDonald certainly has the ability to play on the interior offensive line. He has excellent footwork and could be a candidate to step out on the edge as a tackle. Once again, he must get bigger and stronger and will likely redshirt as a freshman.

20. Miles White, 6’0”, 160 lbs, WR / DB, MSU, Livonia Stevenson
White is a solid all around athlete with decent hands and breakaway speed. He will likely redshirt as he needs to pack on some precious pounds to take a Big Ten beating. He could play, WR, DB, KR and PR. He is a cerebral kid with a ton of upside.

Honorable Mention:
Cortez Smith, DB, 5’10” 195, Detroit, Indiana
John Deyo, OL, 6’6” 260 lbs, Richland, MSU
Trenton Robinson, DB, 5’10” 171 lbs, Bay City, MSU
Adam Follett, QB*, 6’4” 200 lbs, Alma, Indiana
Zach Hueter, OT, 6’7” 300 lbs, North Branch, CMU
Jamie Simpson, RB, 6’0” 225 lbs, Dowagiac, WMU
Brendan Kay, QB, 6’3” 230 lbs, Marine City, Cincy
Shawn Hooey, OL, 6’7” 250 lbs, Hillsdale, Cincy