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FOOTBALL RECRUITING: Northern Michigan snares trio of gridiron gems to open the New Year

By: Scott Burnstein, January 7, 2013, 10:00 am

While much of the rest of the state kicked off the New Year with balloons and party-poppers, the Northern Michigan football program was hard at work, grinding it out on the recruiting trail.

The first week of January brought three brand new recruits into the fold with the Wildcats, as Muskegon teammates Marcus Smith and Sherman Hodges and Ecorse’s Deionte Bruton all committed to Northern Michigan in the last few days.

Smith (5-foot-10, 175 pounds) and Bruton (5-foot-9, 165 pounds) are defensive backs. Hodges (6-foot-0, 180-pounds) is a wide receiver.

Back in the fall, Smith and Hodges helped lead Muskegon into the Division 2 state championship game.

As a junior in 2011, Bruton, an athletic and versatile talent that lined up all over the field for Ecorse in his prep career, helped take the Red Raiders on a trip to the final four.

Similar to Bruton, both Smith and Hodges excelled at multiple positions on the gridiron at the high school level.

Although he will be a cornerback in college, in addition to spearheading the Muskegon secondary, Smith also played running back and wide receiver. On the other hand, while Hodges will play in the slot on offense at Northern Michigan, he was an all-league selection in the Big Red secondary alongside Smith the past two seasons.

In Muskegon’s 35-28 loss to Birmingham Brother Rice in the state finals in November, Smith found the end zone on an 11-yard touchdown scamper in the fourth quarter of the thrilling back-and-fourth affair. He concluded the game with close to 100 combined yards from scrimmage (eight rushes for 47 yards on the ground and four catches for 38 yards through the air) in his last outing on the offensive side of the ball.

Northern Michigan finished 4-7 in 2012 under first-year head coach Chris Ostrowsky.

The trio of fresh Wildcat-commits were recruited up to Marquette by a familiar name to local football fans: Marcus Knight, Northern Michigan’s recruiting coordinator, is a former starting wide receiver at the University of Michigan from the late 1990s who played on the Wolverines 1997 National Championship team and then in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders, where he appeared in a Super Bowl.