Chicago Combine Recap

A number of the Midwest's most talented recruits came out to Evanston High School this weekend for the latest in the combine series. There were many standout performances. Here are some of the players who stood out.

The MVPs
Saginaw (Mich.) sophomore DeAnthony Arnett walked away with the offensive MVP. It is tough for underclassmen to take home this honor, but Arnett had an impressive day all-around. It all started with his forty yard dash. He had sprained his ankle earlier in the weak and even looked a little gimpy running his forty, yet, his 4.51 was one of the top times on the day. He then followed that up with a 4.23 shuttle, which tied for one of the tops on the day. In footwork drills, the coaches consistently remarked at how smooth and quick out of his breaks he was. However, during one route, he let out a scream and said he felt something pop. After a few minutes and against the advice of his family members, he returned to the field, saying he wanted MVP. In 1-1s, his route running was impressive and his quickness off the line allowed him to get off the line against some of the more physical defenders. He made a couple of great leaping grabs and drew some oohs and aahhs from the peanut gallery on several double moves where he left his man. He needs to get bigger and stronger, but he is a very natural receiver. He has long arms and should continue to grow into his body.

The defensive MVP was a fellow Michigan native, Detroit Renaissance cornerback Mylan Hicks. nickname is "Clamps" and Hicks lived up to it today. He began the day by measuring in at over 5'11 and running a 4.49 forty (on a hurt hamstring), one of the top times on the day. He then set the bar in the shuttle with his 4.25, which was later beaten by Arnett. 1-1s was what he came for though and again, he impressed me as he did at the Columbus 7-7. This kid is confident, aggressive and cannot stand giving up completions. He is a competitor and a battler. He came up and pressed several receivers into the ground and into the sideline. His feet are very quick and his makeup speed is good, so that, combined with his physicality really makes him a great all-around package. He lost the ball in the air once or twice and that is the one area he can improve in, but trying to get off the line on this kid proved to be futile for most receivers. The coaches kept throwing the best receivers up against him and he took on all comers.

Fort Wayne Bishop Luers (Ind.) product Mullen was right there with Hicks as the day's best cover corner. In fact, out of all defensive backs, he made the most plays on the ball. He had a great play where he recovered on a double move by Arnett, cut in front of the route, batted the pass up in the air and came down with the interception. He has change of direction and instincts, which allow him to get the early jump on routes. He also has great ball skills. He had been at our Cincinnati combine and had a good day, but he returned this week looking to improve on that and he did. He was one of the guys who turned everybody's head. He should be a kid who really takes off this summer if he continues this type of performance.

Committed Players Shine
When a committed player shows up to a combine like this, it says a lot about their competitiveness and love for the game.

Illinois commitment Chandler Whitmer (Downers Grove South, Ill) came out and had a great day. He first ran a solid 4.86 in the forty yard dash and impressed our coaches by throwing darts all afternoon. He has a quick release, good mechanics and understands the game. He obviously has put in many hours being coached and has soaked it all in. He lacks great size (6-1, 183), but all of those tools make up for it.

Tony Lippett was fresh off his commitment to Michigan State two days earlier, but still came down and competed. He was one of the top receivers there on the day, impressive for a kid who has only played quarterback in high school. He ran a solid 4.63 forty and showed great athleticism in drills. He has very quick feet and outstanding hands. He went high to catch a couple passes and looked like a natural receiver. He needs to continue to get bigger and stronger, but I was impressed with his overall athleticism, skills and also his competitiveness. The 1-1s brought out some hometown, Motor City competition and talk from him and Hicks and those two had some spirited battles.

Living Up to the Billing
A few players came in already holding FBS scholarship offers and they showed why they had them. Potosi (Mo.) running back Brandon Bourbon drove six hours and fought through a hamstring injury to turn in an outstanding showing. He measured in at a solid 6'1, 210-lbs and ran a 4.44 forty at that size. His 4.44 shuttle was also one of the top marks on the day. His combination of size and explosiveness made him tough to deal with in 1-1s. Already with five scholarship offers, Bourbon should pick up a few more this summer.

Bolingbrook (Ill.) running back Jamel Martin worked out at both running back and wide receiver. He showed the ability to get by people and made a couple plays down the field as a wideout. He should be a college running back, but his versatility was on display today and he should be able to fit a variety of roles in a variety of offenses.

Birmingham Brother Rice (Mich.) wide receiver Kevonte Martin had an outstanding day. Not known as a speed demon, he ran a nice 4.59 time and used his stocky build and strength to combat the physical play of the corners. He runs solid routes, has great hands and understands the game. He has one offer from Central Michigan, is close to another from Toledo and I think he could score a few more this summer.

On the Rise
Several players without offers came through and showed that they soon could pick up that faithful piece of mail.

Chicago Simeon offensive tackle Fabbians Ebbele has legit size at 6'7, 287 and he improved as the day went along. He is raw and needs to play with better knee bend, but he uses his long arms well and he plays with a mean streak, putting several guys in the dirt. He has tools that can't be taught and once he improves technique and gets in the weight room, he should be a very good one.

Also impressing along the offensive line was Warren Central's Jamoni Gentry. Many of the scouts and coaches in attendance felt he had the best day of any of the linemen. The 6'3, 356-lber is very strong. Once he gets his hands on a defender, it is essentially over. However, he must get in better shape and improve his mobility. Currently, he projects as a run blocking guard.

His teammate, Michael Gegner, is the opposite. He is undersized, but he moves fairly well and has solid technique. He is tough and battled all day. He is the Warriors' center and he projects well to that position. Other rising senior offensive linemen who showed well were Detroit Cass Tech center Christopher Horne and Marmion Academy (Ill.) tackle Ryan Lovelace. Horne is a stout kid who battles. He just needs to get stronger. Lovelace is a nice sized kid, who did a good job in 1-1s. He may be more of a guard, but he turned in a solid performance. Chesterton (Ind.) center David Raffin had a solid day. He is a tad undersized at 6'2, 270-lbs, but was technically sound and tough.

Going up against those offensive linemen was a solid group of defenders, which made for some heated competition.

Willow Run (Mich.) product Garret Davis could play on either side of the ball in college and did both on Saturday. He impressed me a little more on defense. He has a real motor and plays 110% all the time. He badly rolled his ankle and was thought to be done for the day, but toughed it out, came back in and won his next rep.

Another pair of Detroit Cass Tech products performed well. Defensive end Dalton Barksdale returned after coming to Cincinnati and again showed some pass rush ability. His partner in crime, tackle Chris Devezin, is a stocky 6'1, 308-lber who has good strength.

Chicago Simeon's Donovon Swint is more of a linebacker. The 6'1, 198-lb Swint put his hand down and blew by would be blockers with his quickness, but at that size, projects to WILL linebacker in college. Other defensive linemen who made nice plays included Detroit King's Robert Williford and Evanston's Jeffery Brown.

At the linebacker spot, Auburn Hills Avondale's D.J. Lynch had one of the best days. The 6'0, 206-lb Lynch is a solidly built kid and clocked a 4.69 in the forty. He also did well in the 1-1 coverage skills. He needs to keep getting bigger, but he has good speed.

Waubonsie Valley (Ill.) product Rickey Simpson also had a nice day. He clocked a 4.73 forty at 6'1, 209-lbs and ran like a safety in coverage drills. He stood out along with Detroit King's Martell Goodson, who is on the shorter side, but can run pretty well. Bollingbrook's (Ill.) Darryl Lee, Detroit Central's Alonzo Jones and Detroit Crockett's Darryl Taylor all made plays as well.

On offense, a few quarterbacks had nice testing days. Valparaiso (Ind.) signal caller Zach Livovich ran a 4.74 forty at 6'4, 198. He is a project at quarterback, but has some tools and could potentially project elsewhere as well. Brandon Pechloff of Montini Catholic (Ill.) measured in a little taller than expected at 6'7. He has a strong arm, but must improve his footwork. He is another project with raw ability. He should improve this summer and fall as he received more reps. Warren Central's (Ind.) Derek Hart and St. Joseph (Mich.) passer Sean Guinane also made a couple nice throws.

They benefitted from a couple of solid wideouts. Barrington (Ill.) has a speedy one in Terrence Terry. He clocked a 4.59 forty and was excellent in 1-1s. He is quick and can cut on a dime and left a few of the better cornerbacks in the dust. I would expect a few offers for him soon. His instate counterpart Scott Kuehn ran a solid 4.67 forty and as usual, found ways to get open and caught everything in sight. Greg Hayes of Saginaw (Mich.) ran one of the day's fastest forties (4.48) and used that speed to blow past defenders on a couple occasions. Warren Central's Auri Durrett had decent testing results and caught the ball well throughout the day.

A few running backs who came a long way showed well. Jamal Johnson came all the way from Massachusetts and ran a 4.52 forty and then caught the ball well in drills and 1-1s. Joseph Morgan from Lower Richland (South Carolina) ran a 4.6 and showed quick feet. Instate product Kevin Starke of Lincoln Way East had an outstanding testing day, running a 4.57 forty and a 4.2 shuttle (the day's fastest) at 6'1, 185-lbs. He is a fine athlete who could project to wide receiver as well. Southfield Christian (Mich.)back Devon Bailey ran a solid 4.63 forty and is a solid, strong kid.

A couple defensive backs who were relative unknowns turned in nice days. Tevin Ross and Kevin Ross, twins from Detroit Renaissance are quick and had several pass breakups. Thea Bowman (Ind.) safety Daron Gamble is a big kid (6'0, 198) who moves pretty well for his size, but still could be a future linebacker. Melvindale (Mich.) corner Wayne Pettus is smaller, but fast (4.51) and had a solid showing in 1-1s. Grosse Ile (Mich.) safety Dex Teen ran a 4.55 and is another prospect to keep an eye on.

Underclassmen Report
For the second straight week, Detroit Cass Tech's Blake Blackwell was one of the most impressive receivers at our event. He is solid at 6'1, 194-lbs and he has outstanding hands. He also had a better day testing wise, running a 4.68 forty. He had some trouble with the press, but made a couple catches that really got people's attention.

Joliet Catholic (Ill.) running back Joshua Ferguson ran the fastest forty of the day at 4.41 and impressed our coaches and scouts with his body control. Fellow back Remound Wright (Bishop Dwenger/Ind.) also was in Cincinnati and he ran a solid 4.66 this week and again impressed us with his footwork.

On the offensive line, Arlington (Ind.) sophomore Ralston Evans was one of the better performers. He is solid all around and moves well. He improved the more coaching he received and as the 6'4, 255-lb youngster improves technique, he should become an FBS prospect.

Chicago DelaSalle wide receiver Ahmad Evans is very smooth and has great body control. A track kid, he just needs to get better at getting off press coverage, but has good tools. St. Paul Central (Minn.) product Andrew Lewis ran a solid 4.6 forty and had a nice day in drills.

Richwoods (Ill.) freshman running back Kendrick Foster showed enough speed and explosiveness that we will monitor him over the next few years.

Stay tuned to for more notes from the event as well as full results.

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