Story by Eugene Hankerson
Canton, Ohio -- The NFL Prep Academy puts former NFL players in front top high school prospects to provide mentorship and training to youngsters that might become tomorrow’s stars. This year’s cast of former NFLers included Hall of Famer Rod Woodson, Brandon Noble, and former Cincinnati Bengals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Sam Wyche.
Below is our list of standout prospects in order of performance…
1. Asante Samuel - Don't let his size fool you! This St. Thomas Aquinas star had a spectacular week on both sides of the ball. He simply makes plays that will take your breath away. As you'd expect from the son of a former NFL All Pro, Samuel has great technique, plays physical, and competes for the ball like he's the receiver. In a camp loaded with top prospects, Samuel's has impressed his peers and coaches.
Recruiting: Samuel likely stays down south, but is very interested in UCLA. The four-star prospect told me that as of "right now", he has no interest in Michigan despite holding an offer.
2. Micah Parsons - It has been an interesting week for the Scout’s #2 player in the country. He had fun spending most of his time this week working out as a receiver and defensive back. Surprisingly to players, coaches, and spectators, Parsons excelled. He repeatedly showed he's gifted enough to line up all over the field. Offensively he's a natural pass catcher and defensively he showed phenomenal make up speed en route to hauling in several interceptions.
Recruiting: Parsons committed to childhood favorite Penn State in February, but he will likely announce soon that he would like to open his recruitment to explore other options. He has upcoming visits scheduled to Penn State, Michigan (Barbecue at the Big House), Alabama, Nebraska, and a few West Coast schools. The Nittany Lions are still the favorites, but he has a strong interest in playing with other prospects on this list that PSU is not recruiting or not being considered by.
3. Tyreke Johnson - He more than lived up to the nickname of "Showtime". The heralded defensive back has that Florida swag, meaning he's a big time talker that has more than enough game to back it all up. Johnson is long, beats defenders up at the line of scrimmage, then turns and finds the ball. He could be a corner or safety in college, but would like to be recruited as a cornerback exclusively.
Recruiting: Has some interest in Michigan, but his recruitment is wide open right now. Johnson was rocking UCLA and Georgia gear at the camp, but told me it doesn't mean anything. He's not afraid to leave the state and is being guided through his recruitment by his mentor who is a former NFL player.
4. Bookie Radley-Hiles - Overshadowed by his five-star teammate Darnay Holmes on his high school team, Radley-Hiles has shown to be a great player in his own right. He locked up receivers each day, winning roughly 90% of his reps. He's excelled in press and off coverage and will stay in a receiver’s hip pocket. Worked out at free safety on the last day of camp, showing outstanding range and coverage skills netting two interceptions.
Recruiting: He has strong interest in Michigan and said he will be visiting Ann Arbor today. It will be hard to pluck him from the West Coast, but "Bookie" as he many call him claims his recruitment is open. Nebraska is also one to watch here.
5. Ricky Person - This kid is a stud! Great build, currently stands at 602, 205, and makes the difficult look routine. Person is quiet by nature, but he has a great feel for the game. He was fantastic in bag drills, and showed great hands catching the ball out of the backfield. He will quickly earn his way onto a college football field due to his ability to block during passing downs.
Recruiting: Not current being recruited by Michigan, but has a ton of offers and strong interest from Alabama who would like to see him in person. His family and some schools think he could be a terrific safety in college, but Person wants to play with ball in his hands. His recruitment will likely come down to the in-state schools. Right now I think it's NC State over North Carolina.
6. T.J. Pledger - A physical and compact running back that has good footwork and impressed in drills. That translated onto the field, as Pledger was one of few running backs to get a step or two down field on an extremely talented group of defensive backs during 1-on-1's. Pledger is a good route runner with excellent pass catching ability.
Recruiting: He will be visiting Michigan today with childhood friend Brendan Radley-Hiles. They are scheduled to visit Michigan State as well before heading back to California. Unless these Midwest (he stopped by Ohio State on Thursday), I'm expecting Pledger to stay on the West Coast and pick UCLA over USC, and it could happen soon. The depth chart at running back will be a heavy factor for him.
7. Richard Gouraige - A long and athletic tackle with a great frame with amazing long term potential. Showed good strength versus defensive linemen who attempted to bull rush. Gouraige did a good job of handling speed rushers like KJ Henry, and has the tools to be a special player.
Recruiting: He's wide open with no clear favorites. He is being guided by his head football coach, who attended a Michigan spring practice at IMG in Florida. Gouraige would like to visit Michigan, but nothing is currently set up. I think distance might be an issue. If so it will be hard to pluck him from the Sunshine State.
8. Lorenzo Lingard – This was one of my favorite kids to talk to, carries himself well on and off the field. Tall running back that has it all, speed, feet, and moves in the open field. He was a handful to deal with during 1-on-1's because it's hard to get your hands on him. Lingard is a quick-twitch athlete.
Recruiting: No Michigan offer or strong interest at the moment, but with twenty-six offers, Lingard has plenty of options. Florida State feels like the favorite.
9. Drue Jackson - Had a rough time initially dealing with the physical play of a loaded defensive back group. By the last day of camp, Jackson got his confidence back and was making plays all over the field.
Recruiting: Does not have a Michigan offer or interest but has several offers, including a couple from the Big 10 and Big 12 schools. Seems to be wide open right now, but the Texas Longhorns could be the team to beat if they offer.
10. James Cook - Younger brother of Florida State running back Dalvin Cook who recently reclassified from 2019 to a 2018 prospect. He is already committed to follow in Dalvin's footsteps at FSU. A toe injury limited his participation throughout the week, but once on the field he looked very good in drills, then showed his versatility by taking a ton of reps at cornerback.
Recruiting: Michigan offered, but he is firmly committed to Florida State.
11. Jalen Maden - Had a great week of practice despite being in a camp setting where he couldn't show off his entire skill set. Worked on technique and was extremely accurate during 1-on-1's. Mayden was able to connect with his Sachse teammate Drew Jordan several times.
Recruiting: No Michigan offer or interest at this point. Michigan did pursue his brother Jared Mayden is a freshman at Alabama. His mother is from Ohio. They will be taking an unofficial visit to Auburn this weekend. There is no favorite, but Penn State could emerge if they offer.
12. Isaiah Humphries - Good looking safety prospect who had some good moments throughout the week. He's another player from a loaded Sachse squad. Did good job of tracking the ball and making a play on it.
Recruiting: No Michigan offer but the Wolverines are interested. His father is from Ohio and played for Penn State before spending five years playing in the NFL. He has a number of offers including one from the Oklahoma Sooners. Humphries will camp at Penn State this weekend.