Top 5 Michigan/Michigan State Football Freshmen Entering 2014 Season

Malik McDowell could jump right into Pat Narduzzi's defense at Michigan State. 

Malik McDowell could jump right into Pat Narduzzi's defense at Michigan State. 

By Adam Biggers

So instead of going to bed, I got to thinking about the top newcomers for Michigan State. Then I moved onto Michigan, a team that welcomes Jabrill Peppers, one of the highest-rated recruits in program history.

Then I decided that I should write about the best recruits. So I did.  Feel free to comment on this blog, or shoot me a tweet @AdamBiggers81 and/or @SITMBigAndKid, the podcast's Twitter. 

Who's in your top five?

5. Mason Cole (OL/LT, Michigan; East Lake Tarpon Springs, Fla.)

According to the above tweet from TheWolverine.com's Michael Spath, Cole, a 6'5," 292-pound true frosh (early enrollee), would start today at left tackle, per coach Brady Hoke. If successful, Cole would be only the sixth true frosh to start on Michigan's O-line. 

That's certainly something to think about--and it means either, A.) Cole is really good, or B.) Michigan is scrambling to put something together up front. 

I'm leading toward A, only because Cole strikes me as a college lineman's college lineman. Kind of like your favorite rapper's favorite rapper. 

4. Madre London (RB, Michigan State; St. Thomas Aquinas, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.)

At 6'1" and 213 pounds, London's going to present options to the Spartans' offense. Sure, he'll run the ball--and he's got a great stride to go with vision--but he could be an invaluable pass-protection asset, something that's been stressed over the years by coach Mark Dantonio. 

Look back to Le'Veon Bell and Edwin Baker, and you'll see two backs who ran well but also blocked. London could be the next in line. And according to what I've been told, London's climbing up the depth chart and is in serious contention for meaningful playing time. 

Over the summer, London was a guest on the podcast. He seemed confident and excited, but also knew what was ahead--he's prepared to work, and I think he's proving that in East Lansing. 

Don't sleep on the 3-star recruit. He comes from a program that pumps out high-level football talent. 

3. Freddy Canteen (WR, Michigan; Elkton Eastern Christian, Elkton, Md.)

Did you see Michigan's spring game? Freddy Footwork is the real deal, and he just may eclipse his fellow new-blue Wolverines. I'm predicting a productive year for Canteen, but questions surrounding Team 135's O-line remain heavy in my mind. As long as Devin Gardner, a fifth-year senior quarterback, gets time, the receivers should flourish. 

During media day, I spoke to Jourdan Lewis, a sophomore corner, and Shane Morris, a sophomore quarterback. Each praised their receivers and said that the new guys are making impressions in practice. Lewis said that Canteen, a 6'1," 176-pound speed merchant, and others will give opposing DBs "Big, big problems." 

2. Malik McDowell (DL/DT, Michigan State; Southfield High, Southfield, Mich.)

Word on the street is that he's up a few pounds, weighing in at 292. However, Michigan State's official roster says the six-and-a-half-footer is 286 pounds. The six-pound difference isn't much, maybe one meal for the D-lineman who's wowing everyone during fall camp. 

During a recent interview on the podcast, Spartan Mag's Paul Konyndyk gave rave reviews of McDowell, who had one interesting recruitment process (remember his mother?!). For that reason, I'm expecting a lot more out of the frosh. Initially, I didn't think that he'd make much of a difference for a team that returns Marcus Rush and Shilique Calhoun to the line. 

But Konyndyk changed my mind. I don't think McDowell will be a team-leading sackmaster, but I do think that he'll get acclimated quickly and find reps as a steady rotation contributor. 

1. Jabrill Peppers (ATH/DB, Michigan; Paramus Catholic, Paramus, N.J.)

This past week, the 6'1", 205-pound diamond-level recruit was said to be Michigan's No. 3 corner. That was the feeling at media day, anyway. Today, it appears as if he could be much more than that. Initially, Hoke and Greg Mattison, the defensive coordinator, said that Peppers would start in the nickel. 

They said he'd eased into the mix. Mattison said he was "just another guy on the depth chart." 

Guess that means that he'll start within the first few weeks. I'm expecting Peppers to have a beyond respectable first year. He's just too good. 

And for those who say "He hasn't even played a college down; How can you be so sure about him?"

I say this: Watch his film. Pay attention to Michigan coaches when they speak of him. Put it all together. 

It's Breezy Time.