Michigan's top prospects stir up controversy in Big Ten recruiting


Normally, you don't expect a lot of recruiting controversy in the Big Ten. Evidently, times are changing. Heck, all of a sudden, it's like an SEC free-for-all.

The two best prospects from the state of Michigan are involved. One is cornerback Damon Webb, from Detroit's Cass Tech High. The other is defensive end Malik McDowell, from Southfield High in suburban Detroit. Both are considered among the top 35 prospects in the nation.

Webb grew up a Michigan fan but will sign Wednesday with Ohio State. He committed to the Buckeyes in January 2012 and never wavered. The reason he never wavered is simple: "The coaches aren't developing their talent," Webb told Sports Illustrated.

We're confident in saying Webb might be the most disliked Buckeye going forward for Wolverines fans. One reason is that he didn't sign with his childhood favorite and instead chose that school to the south; the other is that he dissed Michigan coaches and -- by extension -- praised Urban Meyer.

McDowell's situation is a lot murkier, but it also involves Ohio State. McDowell was seen as likely to stay "home" and play for either Michigan or Michigan State. He took official recruiting visits to both schools and also visited Florida and Florida State. It was thought he would choose between FSU and one of the state schools, with McDowell evidently favoring Michigan State.

This past weekend, though, McDowell visited Ohio State, and where he signs Wednesday suddenly is a big mystery. His parents are big reasons: They do not want him to sign with Michigan State and would prefer he not sign with Michigan.

McDowell's mother, Joya Crowe, told Detroit's WMGC-FM on Tuesday afternoon that her son is "not mature enough to make" the decision on his own.

"We don't want him at MSU," Crowe, told the Detroit Free Press. "Something happened. I don't want to put it out there what it was, but I had a bad experience at MSU."

While she would be OK with her son choosing Michigan, Crowe said she would prefer he leave the state. McDowell's dad, Greg McDowell, told 247sports that he definitely wants his son to leave.

"You have to be somewhere you have less distractions and be around people that do what you do -- go to class, be football players, be a student-athlete," he said. "That's the environment I want him to be around and not be in close proximity to his friends. I want him out of Michigan. I don't care if that's Ohio State or Florida State."

Could her son go against his parents' wishes and sign with Michigan State?

"I hope not, but it's possible," Crowe told the Free-Press. "I hope he makes the right decision."

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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