September 18, 2014

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Avon defensive back to play for Michigan after decommitting from Penn State

How do you improve on a breakfast of steak tips, hash browns and chocolate pancakes?

Douglas

It’s not easy to do, but Ross Douglas found a way Tuesday.

The Avon High School senior football standout, just one day after giving up a scholarship to Penn State, capped off his meal at IHOP by agreeing to be a Michigan Wolverine.

“These last 24 hours of my life have been the craziest 24 hours of my life,” he tweeted.

Hard to argue with that.

Douglas, considered a four-star (out of five) recruit by Rivals.com, 24/7 Sports and ESPN and a three-star recruit by Scout, had gone to bed Monday night as a cornerback without a home, having been the first Nittany Lions recruit to decommit in the wake of the crushing NCAA sanctions, including a four-year postseason ban, that came down Monday over the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.

Having already visited Nebraska on Friday, Douglas was planning a visit to Wisconsin on Saturday and had another trip to Notre Dame in the works when he got a call around 11 a.m. from Chris Singletary, Michigan’s director of player personnel, telling him to give defensive coordinator Greg Mattison a call.

Though Douglas hadn’t talked to Mattison in three or four months, he made the call and got the best news he’d heard in awhile: The Wolverines, his second choice all along, still had a scholarship waiting for him.

“I was in shock,” Douglas said. “I wasn’t expecting it because I thought Michigan’s class was full. … I thought they were waiting on two more commitments, but they said the offer was still valid. They said they switched some things around … that’s how much they thought of me.”

The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Douglas, who is enough of an all-around talent to be a Division II third-team All-Ohio selection at running back, had 22 Division I offers, including one from the Wolverines last fall.

From the time he decommitted Monday to the time he gave his oral commitment to Michigan on Tuesday, 20 coaches had reached out to him in an effort to secure his services.

While he always intended to make his choice fairly quickly, he didn’t expect it to happen quite so soon.

“I thought my decision was going to be done before we played Avon Lake on Aug. 24, but it was done a day after (decommitting), which is great,” he said.

Avon coach Mike Elder is just happy things worked out for Douglas.

“Ross, obviously, has a lot of options,” he said. “To me it’s not a distraction. It’s a big decision for him. However long it took was fine with me. I think in his heart of hearts, Michigan was one of his top choices. I wasn’t in a hurry (for him to decide), I just wanted him to make the right decision.”

The No. 222-ranked recruit in the country and the 22nd best at his position, according to Rivals.com, Douglas rushed for 1,019 yards and 15 touchdowns, while also recording 40 tackles, 13 pass defenses and one interception last year as Avon made it all the way to the Division II state final.

As good as all that sounds, it’s not normally fodder for getting your name mentioned on SportsCenter.

But being the first recruit to decommit in the light of Penn State’s problems apparently is.

“I didn’t even watch SportsCenter (Monday night),” Douglas said. “I had people telling me about it. Every kid’s dream is to be mentioned on SportsCenter.”

After the good news, the good breakfast and all the tweeting, Douglas spent the day doing what he loves: playing football.

“We had seven-on-seven from 6 to 8:30,” he said.

He heard lots of congratulations at practice, which might be even better than the SportsCenter mentions.

“It’s just cool to share that with my teammates,” he said.

Contact Kevin Aprile at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.