Photo courtesy German Green/Twitter
DESOTO — Jim Harbaugh got double his pleasure and an early gift when DeSoto twin defensive backs Gemon and German Green inked their names to National Letters of Intent five days before Christmas.
Truth be told, Gemon, a 6-foot-2 and 165-pound three-star free and strong safety, and German, a 6-foot-2 and 168-pound three-star cornerback, could solidify the back end of the Wolverine secondary for the next three to four years in Ann Arbor.
“I’m very excited to play for Jim Harbaugh,” Gemon said softly, restraining his excitement about making the 1,189-mile trip from Texas to Michigan. “It’s going to be great and playing in the big 10 is going to be a good experience for the both of us. From the time we started receiving offers, we knew that we wanted to play college football together.”
Gemon and German, which each have a 2016-17 season University Interscholastic League Class 6A title under their belts, combined for 42 tackles and two interceptions during the championship run. They accounted for 65 of DeSoto’s 585 tackles and four of the Eagles’ seven interceptions a year later.
The twins also recovered four fumbles in their final two varsity seasons. That total was despite German missing most of his junior season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
The two brothers are only six minutes apart — Gemon is the eldest — but have been playing in sync football and torturing opposing running backs and wide receivers since they were 4 years old. With fellow Eagles Byron “BJ” Hanspard, Jr., Jabbar Muhammad, and Isaiah Steward by their side, the duo joined one of the most deadly secondaries in all of high school sports.
One known best as the “No Fly Zone.”
“[The name] got started through Isaiah,” German said about their four seasons in DeSoto. “We knew in our hearts we were good, but we knew we had one of the best secondary when the other teams couldn’t complete a pass on us.”
That big-stage experience and defensive intensity fits right into the gruff and opportunistic mold of a Harbaugh-led defense and could replace losses in the forms of Tyree Kinnell and Jordan Glasgow when the two graduate in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
Michigan’s defense ranked third in total defense, allowing only 3,523 yards, 4.52 yards per play, and 271 yards per game in 2017 per NCAA statistics. Only National Champion Alabama and Big Ten rival Wisconsin boasted a better defense.
Armed with a pair of twins physical enough to play the run but agile enough to blanket speedy backs, hulking tight ends and lengthy receivers, the Wolverines could be markedly better next season. They might even improve Michigan’s already lofty 10/1 odds to win the 2018 CFB Playoffs as rated by Sportsbettingdime.com. Starting quarterback Shea Patterson’s chances to claim a Heisman Trophy could rise, too.
Gemon and German will likely pair with sophomores Lavert Hill and Josh Mettelus once they have a season of learning defensive schemes behind them. They are the only two safeties of a group of 16 signed recruits for Michigan’s 2018 class. A trip to Ann Arbor, however, wan’t a full guarantee with 40 total offers — including ones from Baylor, Houston, Oklahoma, Oregon, Stanford, TCU, Tennessee, and Texas — on the table.
Choices and decisions threatened to tear the two brothers apart and possibly place them on opposite sides of the country and/or in different conferences. According to Todd Peterman, DeSoto’s head coach, the decision to split was never in the brothers’ plan.
“They had about 20 schools that offered them both and there was a time after German hurt his knee that they came to me for advice, but I don’t ever think it was a real possibility. They were going to play together no matter what,” Peterman mused.
He said it took them less than a second to wave away the notion of playing collegiate football apart.
Soon the green and gold of Baylor faded away, the red of Houston and Stanford were a distant memory, and the burnt orange of Texas was no longer a viable option. It left the brothers with only a sea of blue and gold before them.
“Michigan’s getting a pair of men that had to compete to get on the field every day and in every practice,” Peterman continued. “That means a lot when you’re playing on the level we do. They’re long and rangy defenders that have experience competing against Division I receivers. They also played for Mark Howeth, a defensive coordinator with a similar coaching style and demeanor as Jim Harbaugh.”
Some of those current and potential DI wideouts include brothers Laviska (Colorado) and La’Vonte Shenault, Kadarrian “KD” Nixon (Colorado) and Emmet Perry (Wisconsin).
The brothers’ bond, specifically, was the precursor to donning No. 9 and N0. 10 jerseys in Michigan maize and blue. It was one strong enough to carry a pair of hard-hitting Texas speedsters out of the warmth of the Lone Star State and into the frigid cold of the Great Lake State.
Gemon and German have already purchased winter coats for the trip.
“[Michigan’s] real cold, man. It was between like 10 and 17 degrees with a wind chill last week,” Gemon chuckled. “That’s crazy. I think we’ll adjust to the temperature over time, though.”
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