STATE CHAMPS! SCOUT TEAM: Deion Burks’ commitment to Purdue continues Belleville’s pipeline to college programs
With Belleville wideout Deion Burks committing to Purdue on Wednesday, it was the first domino to fall in the Tigers’ prospect-studded 2021 class, which could finish with five D-I signees.
A 5-foot-11, 175-pound speedster, Burks committed to the Boilermakers over 17 other offers, giving the Tigers a 10th Division I commit over the last three recruiting classes. Purdue grabbed five highly-ranked Michigan products last year, as well, including a pair of four-star pass-catchers in Oak Park’s Maliq Carr and Walled Lake Western’s Abdul-Rahman Yaseen.
Burks also had offers from Boston College, Cincinnati, Indiana, Iowa State, Kentucky, Rutgers, Temple and most of the Mid-American Conference.
Producing top prospects isn’t new to the program: Ian Gold played there, as did Cullen and Kris Jenkins. All three wound up in the NFL.
But winning at a sustained level had been until recently. Before this three-year run of success under Jermain Crowell — where the Tigers have gone 34-3 — Belleville had only made the playoffs three times between 2005 and 2016, and hadn’t advanced beyond the second round of the playoffs in program history, until two seasons ago. The Tigers won a regional title and made it to the semifinals last season.
Belleville produced five D-I players in the 2019 class, two of them ranked in the top five in the state: Devontae Dobbs (MSU), Julian Barnett (MSU), Marvin Ham (Colorado), Jalen Hunt (MSU) and Tyrece Woods (Buffalo).
The Tigers sent four players — Andre Seldon (Michigan), Brenden Deasfernandes (Iowa), Coleon Smith (Eastern Michigan) and Ronald Jackson (Akron) — to Division I schools from last year’s graduating class (2020), with two more — Jalen Williams and Michael Jenkins Jr. — headed to Division II Saginaw Valley State.
This year, they have have two prospects in the top 10 in the state’s 2021 class, three in the top 35, four in the top 50.
Five-star defensive tackle Damon Payne and four-star linebacker Jamari Buddin have 44 offers between them, while mammoth offensive tackle Ramier Lewis has seven D-I offers, and wideout Darrell Johnson has a pair. Then there’s quarterback Christian Dhue-Reid, perhaps the most accomplished player in the state without an offer.
And that doesn’t even include Myles Rowser, the four-star safety in the 2022 class, who left Belleville to go to IMG Academy in Florida.
The Boilermakers have gotten a bonanza of recruits out of Michigan lately, nabbing Carr and Yaseen (a signing-day flip from Northwestern), as well as Southfield A&T defensive lineman Bryce Austin and quarterback Anthony Romphf, and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep left tackle Nalin Fox. Detroit King’s Marvin Grant, Cass Tech’s Jalen Graham, Muskegon Mona Shores linebacker Jacob Wahlberg and Grand Rapids South Christian offensive lineman Spencer Holstege headed to West Lafayette, Ind., in the 2019 class.
— MATTHEW B. MOWERY