We knew Fort Wayne Bishop Luers (Ind.) outside linebacker Jaylon Smith was good and athletic, but no one expected him to do what he did on Monday, not even Smith himself.
The 6'3, 220-lb Smith has been playing basketball, still training, but not as much as he would be if he were off the hardwood, but he showed up and ran the fastest time of the day, a 4.44. If anyone doubted that, Smith, rather than sit on that time, ran again and clocked a 4.46.
He looked fluid and explosive in linebacker drills, which allowed him to excel in 1-1 coverage against the running backs. Perhaps looking for a challenge, he moseyed over to the offensive line-defensive line 1-1s and exploded past would-be blockers with his quickness and athleticism. He came back over the skill side for 7 on 7 and promptly made a leaping interception. He was definitely the MVP of the event, and currently an early four-star, Smith made claim throughout the season and on Monday that even that lofty ranking may not be high enough.
Not to Be Outdone...
Smith was outstanding, but so was the linebacker group as a whole. It was the most loaded position at the combine.
Four-star prospect Tim Kimbrough from Warren Central (Ind.) was one of the other big names there. Testing and combine stuff isn't necessarily his forte, but he competed and did very well in the 7 on 7 portion, where he picked off several passes. Chicago (Ill.) Simeon's Reggie Spearman worked out at both linebacker and defensive end. He's slated to be an outside pass rusher in college, but showed his athleticism and footwork in some of the linebacker drills and made some plays in coverage which showed his versatility.
One sleeper who emerged on the day was Fort Wayne Concordia's Michael Hicks. A thick kid at 6'2, 225-lbs, he ran a 4.59 in the forty yard dash and certainly looked like a potential Division-1 recruit. Another who emerged was Westerville (Ohio) South's Jordan Rodriguez, who is a nicely built kid who may even end up as a defensive end based on his size and build.
South Bend Washington's DeVonte Hughes, a productive defensive end, worked out at linebacker, where he has not done a lot of the drills, but he's learning the position because he's undersized at end. I think his best college position will be as a stand up outside linebacker/pass rusher.
There were a couple of young linebackers who did well too. Detroit Cass Tech's class of 2014 duo Deon Drake and William White are very impressive. White is a thick bodied, strong kid who can move that size well. Drake has always been a bit of a leaner athlete type, but he's added a lot of good weight and muscle since I've seen him last. It's very surprising to look at those two and know that they're sophomores. They look college ready now.
The top prospect there for the second year in a row was Lexington Catholic (Ky.) junior Kyle Bolin. The Louisville commit came to compete and support his teammates, including his brother, a rising freshman quarterback. He threw well today, threading the needle several times in 7 on 7s.
Middletown (Ohio) Bishop Fenwick junior Ricky Davis is a kid that moves around well and has a smooth delivery. He's Division-1 prospect looking to add to his offer list.
Brentwood Academy (Tenn.) has a big junior in 6'6 Max Staver. He moves around well for a big kid. He has the physical tools you like in a quarterback prospect. Benet Academy (Ill.) junior Kevin Weller is a kid with a nice arm who made some accurate throws on the day.
Hamilton Southeastern (Ind.) sophomore Jametrius Crockham is one of the top prospects in the 2014 class. He is raw, and seemed like he hadn't done some of the running back drills, but he has a great frame, is smooth, athletic and explosive and is a legitimate Division-1 prospect.
The one who really emerged today was Warren Michigan Collegiate (Mich.) junior Teo Redding, who is skinny, but very smooth, explosive, athletic and can jump out of the gym. He went high to grab several tough passes. If it's anywhere near him, he's coming down with it.
Brownsburg's Chase Dutra is a good athlete who played all over the field last year, but showed on Monday that he has the hands and route running skills to be a good one at wide receiver in college. South Bend Clay's Wesley Thomas is a nice sized kid who has good hands and can outmuscle defensive backs.
Two from Fort Wayne also impressed. Columbia City's Jared Murphy ran a 4.44 and then used that speed to create a lot of separation in 1-1s and 7-7s. He's not real big, but has great hands and is a tough cover because of his quickness. Isaac Griffth from Homestead is a great route runner who catches everything effortlessly and made a couple tough ones look easy as well.
I really liked what I saw from Cathedral's Sampson Levingston too. He's a thicker kid who uses that strength and he has really good hands and ball skills. His 4.56 in the forty was a good time for him. He has a chance to add some offers soon.
A youngster to watch is Detroit Cass Tech's Damon Webb, who still needs to add weight, but has excellent body control and ball tracking skills. The kid has outstanding hand-eye coordination and ball skills.
Avon's Jalen Edwards, who ran in the 4.4s, Fort Wayne Bishop Luers' Michael Rogers, and Hertiage Christian's Anthony Warrum, are three others who had good days.
Dave Berk will have a full recap of the offensive linemen and the defensive linemen, but we wanted to mention here, a few who did exceptionally well. On the offensive line, Warren Central's Dwyane Brown had the best day, stoning a couple of the top prospects at the event. He's a strong kid who will play inside in college.
Notre Dame commit Steve Elmer won some early battles against top guys. He's an impressive athlete, running a 5.05 at 315-lbs. He was 297 last year at this time, and has added good weight while keeping his speed.
The unknown guy who emerged most was Guerin Catholic's Bama Powell, who is strong and has good technique, which allowed him to win his share of 1-1 battles.
South Bend Clay's Shakir Carr and Center Grove's Skylar Lacy are two others who had good runs. Lacy stepped against some of the top pass rushers and won those reps, which drew attention his way.
On the defensive line, Avon's Elijah Daniel is a fantastic athlete who explodes off the ball and showed good strength. He's filled out more since the last time I saw him and it shows in his play. Indianapolis Pike's David Kenney is quick off the snap of the ball and stays low while rushing the passer. After losing his first rep, he consistently beat his man off the ball and got to the "quarterback."
Warren Central's Chris Davis is one to watch. A former linebacker who is growing into a three-tech. He's powerful for being just a sophomore and should be one of the next top prospects at the school. His teammate, Anthony Wimbush, was one of the most physically imposing players at the event. He could be an outside linebacker-end hybrid in college. Another young tackle to watch is Bishop Luers' powerful sophomore Tony Fair.
Two safeties with offers, Antonio Allen from Ben Davis (Ind.) and Delano Hill from Detroit Cass Tech had nice days. Allen, known as a hitter, made a couple of plays in coverage, including an interception in 7-7s. Hill grabbed a couple, showing good awareness and he used his size to muscle receivers at the line.
Detroit Crockett's Desmond King was the top corner in attendance. He has good footwork and showed the ability to run with receivers. He also plays the ball in the air well.
Two from Luers, Tyvell Jemison and Kendrick Mullen had nice days. Jemison is a good sized kid with good footwork. Mullen, while undersized, is a technician with good ball skills and was awarded co-MVP on the day.
Looking way down the line, Warren Central's Mykelti Williams is a prospect to watch, even though he's only in the class of 2015. He's a nice sized kid for being that young.
Video, interviews, and Dave Berk's full lineman recap still to come from this year's Best of the Midwest.