NFL Draft: Midwest Recruiting Lookback

The Midwest region will have several former recruits go in the 1st Round of the draft on Thursday night. Scout looks back on what we thought of them as recruits.

High School: Cleveland (Ohio) Glenville
Marshon was a kid who was not on the radar early. He started to get some buzz the summer before his junior season, but it was the first few games of that season that really transformed him into a national prospect. There was a play against Solon where he reached behind him with one hand, snagged it, then cut through the defense for a touchdown. I think seeing that play on tape was what made us realize he was about to get big. Back then, it was all wide receiver. It was not until after that season that more of the cornerback talk started. When we saw him at Sound Mind, Sound Body, that was when it became really apparent that he was a big time cornerback prospect. He was No. 51 in the country. We had 40 five-stars that year and he was in the conversation, but we kept him a high four. The one question that I, and Ohio analyst Bill Greene had, was his ability to stay healthy. That still has nagged him some even until now, but I wish we had not weighted that as much and made him a five-star.

MITCH TRUBISKY, QB, North Carolina
High School: Mentor (Ohio)
Like Lattimore, it was during Trubisky's junior year that his recruitment really exploded. Alabama offered that fall. He was always a gamer. His high school film showed his athleticism and ability to make plays when things broke down and he had to improvise. I remember seeing him go through the Elite 11 in Ohio and he was solid, but did not light it up there. That is where that event can be tougher to evaluate mobile quarterbacks at because it takes away his legs. We went off the game film and made him a four-star on the lower end. He should have been a little higher but we put too much stock in that Elite 11 I think. His athleticism and intelligence that was there in high school is still what has him about to go high.

High School: 
Pickerington (Ohio) Central
We first saw Taco very early in his high school career when Pick Central played against Plainfield (Ind.) in a kickoff classic and the potential was there but he was super raw, so we actually started him off as a three-star. He went way out to California and dominated a NIKE Training Camp (before it was called The Opening Regional). Even then, we wanted to see what his junior season of football looked like and it matched up to his camp performances, so we moved him up to a four. He has gotten better every single year since then, even

COREY DAVIS, WR, Western Michigan
High School: Wheaton (Ill.) Warrenville South
Corey was high school teammates with quarterback Reilly O'Toole, who was committed to Illinois, and even during his senior season, Corey's name was not out there on a national level. I remember watching Reilly's senior film and wondering, who is that receiver? We ended up sneaking him into the rankings as a lower three-star. I'll probably kick myself forever for not digging into him a little more and raising that ranking because it was obvious even from the clips on Reilly's tape that he had a ton of talent. His older brother Titus was having a big year at Central Michigan at that time, and I remember thinking it was odd CMU had not offered Corey. Western Michigan hired a young coach named P.J. Fleck that winter and they signed Corey.

High School: Stevens Point (Wis.)
Ryan did not even have a Scout profile in high school. He was committed to Winona State out of high school before heading to several different schools including Wisconsin Stevens Point before transferring to Wisconsin as a senior and developing into a 1st Round pick. Having not seen him in high school, we went back and watched his high school film. It shows an athletic kid, but I am not certain that, had we even seen that film, he would have been ranked apporpriately. He is simply one of those kids who developed in college and took a path much less traveled and that is what makes NFL Draft night great.

T.J. WATT, OLB, Wisconsin
High School: 
Pewaukee (Wis.)
I stopped by the high school and met T.J. when he was a senior. He was already committed to Wisconsin by that point. He was a high school tight end and was built almost like a receiver. We had him rated as a mid-three star as a tight end. He was athletic, so when he moved to outside linebacker, that made sense, we just always looked at him as a tight end. Given the way his brother J.J. developed from tight end to 1st Round defensive end, we should have seen history repeating. This one was a miss by us.

MALIK McDOWELL, DT, Michigan State
High School: 
Southfield (Mich.)
When McDowell was a freshman at Loyola, he attended a Big Man Camp at Toledo and one of the high school coaches that was there told me Loyola had the best prospect in Detroit. That was a surprise to me because Loyola, to that point, had not had the number of prospects Cass Tech, King and others had. I went and saw Malik his sophomore season and he was playing more offensive tackle and he looked like a Power 5 level guy there. In February of that year, we saw him at the Elite Big Man Camp in Wixom and after a few drills, it was evident we were looking at a major prospect. Watching him run through the NFL Combine drills this year, it was a flashback to seeing a 6-foot-6 kid with his wingspan move the way he did in high school. He was always heavily scrutinized. I remember after Loyola lost to Ishpeming in the state title game, I got a lot of messages saying we had him ranked too high. But his physical tools were and are so rare. He stood out from the best in the country at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl that year and it cemented his five-star status. That scrutiny continues to this day, but Malik may very well get his name called late in the 1st Round tonight and if not, it should not be long before his name is called in Round 2. I saw the articles this week with NFL personnel folks talking about how polarizing he is as a prospect. There was also a quote from one GM saying physically, he should be the 2nd pick in the draft. That physical skill set has always been there. That reminded me of the shock I felt when seeing that big sophomore dominate in Wixom.

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