With Michigan close to losing the commitment of 2013 CB Gareon Conley, let's look at a future CB that could be blue before all is said and done.
It's October, and the '13 recruiting class is all but finished. At this point, you're probably tired of having the same recruit stats splashed over you relentlessly, since it's the only news we can salvage at this point. In an effort to freshen the recruiting content in the blog-o-sphere, we at Maize N Brew have begun writing up profiles for some of the premier 2014 prospects. Included will be a summary of their recruitment thus far, a breakdown of their play, and a silly prognostication on their likely destination. We'll start the series off with Parrker Westphal, a DB from Illinois.
Not the fastest or most explosive CB I've ever seen, but he makes up for it with excellent instincts. Physical run defender, really like his use of hands and punch in dealing with WRs. Looks like a prototypical boundary CB with size and physicality. Don't like how he seems to attack more than defend when trying to break up the ball...could get him in PI trouble down the road. Fluid hips combined with instincts should make him a pretty good cover guy, but I'd never wanna put him on the O's #1 guy unless he's 6'3+ and you've got Jourdan Lewis on the other side. Will never be mistaken for a ball hawk.
Overall, he looks like he'll be a mid to high level four star. Might get a couple national looks but seems like it'll end up being a regional heavyweight fight. Not sure he has the explosiveness to be truly elite, but could have an NFL future down the line.
Since offering him before a lot of the other big shots involved in his recruitment, many have assumed them to lead. After saying things like this....
General thoughts: "The facilities were all brand new. The Big House was huge and they had two indoor football fields for practice. The tour also took me through the academic center, the weight room and I got to talk with both Coach Mallory and Coach Mattison".
The Big House: "It was pretty much jaw-dropping".
Expectations: "They were exceeded. The facilities really just blew me away. I didn't expect a full indoor 120 yard field, let alone two of them. I really like to work in a clean environment".
...following his first visit, excitement was justifiable. For a while, it seemed like only a matter of time before he committed. This was reinforced by several ($) statements and implications by him and his father that a decision would help him focus on the season, something which was certainly desirable to the youngster.
"If he doesn't make a decision down the road for a long time, that's going to be a big distraction for a long time."
As the summer went on, that timetable seemed to expand a bit, spurred on by the coaches themselves?
Coaching talk: "I talked with coaches Mattison, Hoke and Mallory during the BBQ. They told me if I were to commit now that they wouldn't want me to because it's still really early and they're in no rush at this point. I wasn't contemplating an early commitment, but they were just making sure not to make me feel pressured and to take my time in the recruiting process. It was pretty special to hear that to be honest, it's not always like that".
This is backed up by various sources, including a change in tunes of sorts from his father as well as 'whispers' from Brian. Since then, more schools have jumped in on the top prospect. Regional powers like Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Michigan State have all been mentioned to be squarely in his focus. Well...the Irish influence is negligible...
Other visits: "I just visited Notre Dame, it was ok. Next, I'm probably going to visit Florida, and West Virginia."
Loldomers. Other schools such as Alabama, Florida, USC, and Wisconsin have shown new interest in the versatile defender. Fear not, Michigan fans. I think it's safe to say he holds the maize and blue in high esteem, thanks to a little help from our friend.
For me, I always said that I wanted to coach and get somebody to go to Michigan," Howard admitted to Scout.com. "I want our kids to go where they can go, the best choice for them, and where they'll be able to max-out their potential. Of course, I'm biased toward Michigan. I pulled Parrker aside before he even enrolled in high school and I said, 'You're going to go to Michigan.' I looked at his dad and said that and they said, 'You think so?' I guess one Wolverine can always pick out another."
The Michigan coaching staff followed up on the tip and offered Westphal a scholarship in late April before later hosting him on an unofficial visit in early June. It proved to be a trip that lived up to all of Howard's hype.
"It was jaw-dropping," said Westphal. "I saw the facilities, learned about the academics, and met with the coaches. My dad and my brother had the same reaction as me - they were speechless. Everything there is so modern."
Westphal's father, Brian, was even more taken aback by the Maize and Blue presentation.
"It was a spur of the moment thing for us to be able to get out there, and they were able to put it together and not miss a beat," the Brian Westphal said. "I think every single coach was there; we got to meet every single one of them.
"The other thing was taking us out on the football field. That was special. They walked us down the tunnel, we got out to the end, and we were just kind of looking around. You're kind of in awe of the size of the stadium and the people that have been there. Then all of a sudden the guy that was taking us around gets on his phone and the (video boards) come on. The music is blaring, and the pre-game stuff is on.
Then all of a sudden, it just kind of sunk in that, 'Holy crap, we're at a really big school where really big people have come from - people that have played on this field, people that earned their way into the business world or earned their way into to the NFL from this very spot.' That was pretty special.
"Obviously, there are other schools that have history and that have people go to the NFL, or go on in the business world and become extremely successful. But once you experience it that first time it's not quite the same at the other ones."
I'm trying to actually stick with one school in these previews so I can objectively measure how accurate I was at some point in the future, even though that's almost certain not to look good in the end. At this point, it'd be hard to guess anyone BUT Michigan. However, the longer it goes on, the less confident I am in that prediction. If he decides at the end of the junior season as he now plans, I think Michigan.
"With Parrker's size, he has extreme athletic ability," Howard, who played at Michigan from 1998-2001, told Scout.com. "He's been around football his entire life. He used to hang around our practices when his older brother (Brandon Westphal, now playing at Illinois State) played here, so his football IQ is better than most of the kids on our team. Parrker is very coachable and he's a quick learner. When he fully develops and understands the things that he's capable of, he will be a phenomenal player. I really don't think Parrker knows how good he can be, but with his work ethic, there is no doubt that he'll reach his full potential."
Added Scout.com Midwest regional manager Allen Trieu: "Right now he has a chance to be the top player in Illinois, although it's a strong group with four or five potential number one guys. He's definitely a top-10 guy in the Midwest."
Westphal credits Howard with helping grow his game to its current level, but the confidence and hard-hitting approach are ready-made traits.
"Coach Howard calls me the 'Honey Badger,' Westphal said. "Like Tyrann Mathieu from LSU, I'm aggressive, I like to tackle, but I also like to cover. I feel I can cover anyone man-to-man."
His team is real good. Used to like Penn State. Not sure they're up there anymore. (Former) teammates include Florida LB Antonio Morrison and Illinois commit QB Aaron Bailey.