Posted: 2:45 pm Friday, August 29th, 2008
By Jason Lieser
Running back Vincent Smith and defensive end Brandin Hawthorne, two of the top recruits in Palm Beach County, announced their intent to play for the University of Michigan next year.
Smith picked the Wolverines over Tennessee, and Hawthorne’s runner-up was Louisville.
Smith is one of the best running backs in the area, and his versatility in the passing game makes him an ideal fit for Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez’ spread offense. He is 5-9, 170 pounds and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds. Smith makes instinctive cuts, has no aversion to initiating contact and easily finds open seams as a receiver.
Smith spoke frequently this week with former Pahokee receiver Martavious Odoms, now a freshman at Michigan. Hawthorne and Smith talked constantly with each other during the recruiting process and both of them like the idea of sticking together in college.
At 6-2, 200 pounds, Hawthorne will need to add a little muscle, but he runs the 40-yard dash in 4.6 second and delivers some the most jarring hits in the county. He will start at defensive end this season, but has been recruited as an outside linebacker, which is a simple transition if any.
Pahokee head coach Blaze Thompson refers to Hawthorne as a “psycho” because of his propensity to run all over the field, push through blockers and drill ball-carriers. Two years ago, the staff had trouble getting Hawthorne to play within the system, but Pahokee defensive coordinator Rick Lammons said Hawthorne now is one of the team’s most disciplined players.
Both players said they are on track to graduate early and plan to enroll at Michigan in January, in time for spring practices.
Verbal commitments are non-binding — Glades Central offensive lineman Henry Orelus recently switched his pledge from LSU to Florida State — and players still can make official campus visits to any five universities.