The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

The award-winning Shaker Heights High School student news organization

The Shakerite

Big Man on Campus Ready for Big Things

West Virginia, Auburn, Georgia, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Nebraska, Washington. The list goes on.

All these Division I schools and others are recruiting senior defensive and offensive tackle Donovan Munger, including UCLA, Ohio State, Michigan, Tennessee and Cincinnati.

Munger has played football since age 7. “I looked up to my uncles, and they always played football,” Munger said. Football also appealed to Munger because “football is more physical and takes a lot of work.”

Munger is six-foot four and 285 pounds. According to Yahoo Sports Midwest recruiting analyst Josh Helmholdt, those numbers catch recruiters’ eyes. “Players with [Munger’s] size and athleticism get a lot of attention,” Helmholdt said in a phone interview.  Helmholdt said Munger moves very well for his size and has a rare combination of size and athleticism.

In addition to imposing size, Munger’s attitude is impressive. Shaker defensive coordinator Howard Little said Munger is very coachable, competitive and eager to learn.

Munger’s self-assessment echoes those opinions. He said his hands and feet are pretty quick on the field, and he likes “being a leader on and off the field. I like to help people when they’re having bad days.”

Asked about Munger’s strengths, head football coach Jarvis Gibson laughed and said a better question would be, “What are his weaknesses?” because Munger is good across the board.

Athletic Director Don Readance said from Munger’s sophomore to junior year he became a different player. “Donovan has grown physically and matured into a leader. He’s much more than just a physical presence,” Readance said.

Gibson said Munger’s coming-out party was last year’s Maple Heights game. As a junior, Munger was quiet and reserved, Gibson said, but during the game Munger stepped up. Gibson said it wasn’t that Munger wasn’t capable; he just wasn’t noticing what he could do.

Solon football coach Jim McQuaide, whose Comets have faced Munger four times, said Munger’s future prospects are strong. “He can control the lines on both sides of the ball by using his strength and power to disrupt what the other team is trying to do,” said McQuaide, who added that if Munger continues to progress, he has the ability to be a very good player at the collegiate level.

But in college football, “guys are older, bigger and stronger,” McQuaide said, and Munger will have to increase his football effort and intensity to be successful.

According to ESPN, Munger has received offers from more than 30 schools. Gibson said every Big 10 and MAC school, half of the schools in SEC and ACC and three or four PAC-12 schools have contacted him about Munger.

“The recruiting process has been exciting and stressful,” Munger said. “Sometimes you just want to focus on academics, but with the recruiting services and all the interviews, you kind of get side tracked so you have to stay strong-minded.” Munger said he doesn’t “have a lot of interest in one particular school because they all tell me the same thing: that I can just play right away, but I know I’m going to have to work wherever I go.”

And Munger isn’t only good on the field; he’s a good student. Gibson said he believes some of Munger’s best accomplishments have come in the classroom.

Helmholdt said he thinks Munger can make it to the NFL. “Certainly anybody that’s getting recruited at that level,” can make it, he said.

But, Munger said, “Going to college, you have to set your goals to academics because there is a slim chance you can go to the NFL. You could break your leg at anytime and end your career.”

If Munger does make it to the NFL, Readance said he would be thrilled and it would create a trickledown effect as more coaches would recruit at Shaker because of Munger.

Gibson thinks there’s no question about it. In his years of coaching, Gibson has coached four NFL players and a many of collegiate stars. “Donovan is one of the best,” he said.

Many college coaches agree. Gibson said they have told him, “If Donovan continues to work the way he’s been working, he should be playing on Sundays one day.”

A version of this article appeared in print on 31 October 2012, on page 11 of The Shakerite






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