PREP FOOTBALL: Cheshire Academy’s Black commits to Michigan

PREP FOOTBALL: Cheshire Academy’s Black commits to Michigan

CHESHIRE — The Wi-Fi at Cheshire Academy’s Bowden Hall Green Room was overloaded Wednesday awaiting the college decision of senior wide receiver Tarik Black.

The flurry of live video streaming delayed his long-awaited reveal by 20 minutes. Following the technical difficulties, the footage rolled.

Black kept the jam-packed room in suspense until, toward the end of the 2:52 minute video, he revealed he will play next fall at the University of Michigan. Teammates, students, friends and family erupted in a united scream of joy.

The 6-foot-4, 207-pounder was one of three Cats to sign Division I pacts on Wednesday. Running back C.J. Holmes committed to Notre Dame and lineman Sam Vretman inked with Rutgers.

“It’s an incredible day,” Cheshire Academy coach David Dykeman said. “There’s something amazing about seeing young men realize their dreams. Every time we can see something like this is special.

“Obviously, this is a unique day. To have the University of Notre Dame, Rutgers and Michigan recruit from [one] program is special. But this is not something that has happened by accident. This is four years of hard work and, on behalf of our coaching staff, this is special.”

Black said he was impressed with Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh.

“He’s a very interesting guy,” Black said. “Very down to earth, very truthful guy. He’s honest. He’s a little weird, but that’s just him. He doesn’t care about what anyone else thinks. That’s the reason I really like that guy, and he’s going to push me to be the very best I can be.”

Black, a Hamden resident, played four years at Cheshire Academy. He thanked each of the other schools that were among his final choices — Alabama, Auburn, Stanford and UCLA — before revealing that he would wear the Maize and Blue for the next four years.

Black will head to Ann Arbor the day after he plays in the nationally televised U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 7 at San Antonio’s Alamodome. He will get right to work on making his mark at Michigan.

“They have two senior wide receivers leaving for the NFL draft,” Black said. “They told me it’s pretty much open for anyone to come in and compete and just grab that spot. I just want to go in and work my tail off and see some playing time next year.”

Black and Holmes are lifelong friends from Hamden. Holmes’ decision wasn’t a surprise. He announced in July he’d be going to Notre Dame.

“This means the world to me having it all on paper and knowing the deal is done,” Holmes said. “Without my support system, I wouldn’t have been able to have done this.

“It’s a blessing. It’s the best decision for me and I feel it’s the best of both worlds in both academics and athletics.”

Holmes also considered the University of Tennessee, Penn State and Alabama.

“C.J. and Tarik came in as repeat freshmen,” Dykeman said. “I tell everybody, the first time I met C.J., he was 5-foot-6 and 138 pounds and Tarik was 5-foot-9 and 160 pounds. I thought they were terrific young men from great families and to see what they have become is so special. They left an impact on our program that will be felt for a long time.”

Vretman, whose hometown is 30 minutes from Stockholm, Sweden, has played his last two years on the Cheshire Academy offensive line. The left tackle stands 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds. He drew interest from UConn, Temple, Penn State and Colorado State before deciding on the Scarlet Knights.

“What an unbelievable force,” Dykeman said. “If you look how we ran the ball this year, Sam was a big part of that. He’s a leader.”


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