CLEVELAND, Ohio -- This weekend, the wind carried myself and my beautiful gold, Sable off to the great state of Ohio to check out some of the most highly coveted prospects the area has to offer.
Officially feeling like fall football weather with temperatures dipping deep into the 50’s, here’s some notes on what I was able to gather from the two-day stint.
Friday: Cleveland Benedictine at Bedford
While Benedictine is home to 2015 Florida verbal commit and four-star linebacker Jerome Baker, a former Michigan target, his teammate, and most likely the second best overall athlete on the team is 2016 four-star wide out Justin Layne.
Friday, Layne wasn’t able to fully showcase his unique ability and elite athleticism but did show enough flashes that leave everyone fully understanding of his ranking and high level interest.
Layne opened up the scoring with a 28-yard touchdown catch down the right sideline. Although the defensive back tripped and fell, Layne showed good awareness in recognizing there was no help from a safety over top, simply turning his route up the field before grabbing the football and walking into the end zone.
As the game went on, Layne’s role in the offense seemed to dwindle and as that happened, frustration set in for the junior. It wasn’t until late in the third quarter and the fourth quarter when Benedictine began going to Layne again and drops followed, possibly just the case of needing to remain in the game mentally as much as possible.
Either way, Layne was the primary returner on kick returns and really showed great shiftiness and speed with the football. Looking at him at the next level, Layne is a player that could factor in as an outside receiver, could be a menace in the slot and even appears versatile enough to handle the ball on end arounds as well.
Saturday: St. Joseph’s (Pa.) Prep at Cleveland St. Ignatius
Talent all over the field in this one and my attention was squarely focused on a couple of players on the offensive line.
For St. Joseph’s, they’re of course boasting 2015 Michigan commitment Jon Runyan Jr. and Runyan Jr. had a good showing from his left tackle position. Noticeably stronger from a year ago, Runyan Jr. showed some power in run blocking and did a nice job of getting into defenders in pass protection.
Speed will still be an issue for Runyan Jr. to handle on the edge but his future at Michigan will most likely reside on the interior of the offensive line.
On the other side, also playing left tackle, was 2016 St. Ignatius’ Liam Eichenberg. I’ve had a chance to lay eyes on Eichenberg on multiple occasions and have never seen him play with such physicality.
Eichenberg had a swagger about him, knowing he was bigger and stronger than his opponent and even playing to the whistle, at times a little bit after the whistle without receiving a penalty of course.
Eichenberg was just as effective in run blocking as he was in pass protection, really doing a nice job of finishing blocks and looking for pancakes.
The wild card on this day was the strong performance of 2017 St. Joseph’s running back Deandre Swift. Swift has great size for just a sophomore, is extremely shifty, and runs the ball out of the back field as well as he can catch it.
Most impressive though is Swift’s vision, able to recognize where the holes were and make one cut up field before turning on the jets for a nice gain.
Swift will undoubtedly be heavily recruited when it’s all said and done.
Look for stories and highlights throughout the week right here on GoBlueWolverine.com.