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Published: Thursday, 4/21/2011

Top recruit Pike shuns Michigan

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

A Michigan baseball cap sat on a table in front of Zeke Pike Wednesday, a sign that the Wolverines were one of five schools who advanced to the final round of cuts in the intense recruitment of the blue chip quarterback.

It's unknown whether the Wolverines finished second, third, fourth, or fifth. But they weren't first.

Considered one of the nation's top high school quarterbacks in next year's senior class, Pike put on an Auburn cap during a news conference held at his Kentucky high school, announcing he'll play for last season's BCS national champion.

It's easy to see why the Wolverines were interested in him. At 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, Pike fits the profile of the type of quarterback coach Brady Hoke is searching for to operate Michigan's pro-style offense. According to the recruiting service Scout.com, Pike is a five-star recruit and the third-ranked quarterback in next year's senior class.

Tennessee, Arkansas, and Purdue were also in the final mix for Pike, who received scholarship offers from a swarm of marquee programs including Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Louisiana State, Penn State, Southern California, and Wisconsin.

Pike passed for 2,300 yards and 23 touchdowns and ran for 1,120 yards and 16 TDs last season at Dixie Heights High School, located just south of Cincinnati in the city of Edgewood, Ky.

Michigan will enter the upcoming season with three scholarship quarterbacks -- junior Denard Robinson, sophomore Devin Gardner, and incoming recruit Russell Bellomy.

Gardner, despite his status as a sophomore, may wind up having four years of eligibility remaining because he sat out much of last season with a back injury.

A determination on Gardner's eligibility will be made by the NCAA after he completes his fourth season.

Although Pike seemed to be at the top of Michigan's wish list of quarterbacks, other options exist.

According to Tom VanHaaren, who covers recruiting for the Michigan fan site MGoBlog.com, the Wolverines have offered scholarships to four other quarterbacks in the 2012 class. They are: Maty Mauk (Kenton, Ohio), Gunner Kiel (Indiana), Bennie Coney (Florida), and Devin Fuller (New Jersey).

Four non-quarterback prospects have committed to Michigan. Offensive linemen Ben Braden (Rockford, Mich.) and Caleb Stacey (Cincinnati) provide an area of need for the Wolverines, as do linebackers Royce Jenkins-Stone (Detroit) and Kaleb Ringer (Clayton, Ohio).

Jenkins-Stone, of Cass Tech, continues a long-standing pipeline from that school to Michigan.

Ringer is the cousin of former Michigan State and current Tennessee Titans running back Javon Ringer.

Contact Ryan Autullo at: rautullo@theblade.com or 419-724-6160.



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