Trying to nail down the 100 best prospects in the nation is a tough job and it doesn't get any easier at the regional level.
This is the first year since 2001 that the Midwest Hot 100 doesn't include the state of Pennsylvania.
There's a ton of talent in the Keystone State, but that didn't make my job any easier as there were still about 150 prospects vying for the 100 spots in the Midwest.
How did I come to the conclusion of picking the Midwest Hot 100? Watching a load of film, talking to my colleagues, going to camps and talking with college coaches on the road.
No. 1 was pretty easy for me. I saw Alex Boone as a sophomore and felt the 6-foot-8, 300-pounder from Lakewood (Ohio) St. Ed's was one of the nation's elite offensive linemen as a 16-year old.
Boone had some stiff competition from fellow blue-chip offensive lineman Dan Doering but the Illinois native had to settle in at the No. 2 slot.
Boone is committed to Ohio State and Doering has an offer from the Buckeyes. Imagine Boone and Doering as bookend tackles in Columbus, it could happen but Iowa will have something to say about that. The Hawks lead for Doering's services.
National recruiting analyst Jamie Newberg says that Ohio cornerback Jamario O'Neal is the best prospect in the Midwest and it's hard to argue that fact.
I can't remember a more physical cornerback in all my years covering football recruiting. O'Neal is committed to Ohio State and he sits at the No. 3 spot in the Midwest Hot 100.
The region is loaded with wide receiver talent and the best of the bunch in my opinion is Michigan's Talonnie Russell.
Russell is another prospect I saw as a sophomore and you could see that he'd be a difference maker in the future. Russell could play receiver or cornerback at the next level.
Best running back? School Sports says that Illinois-bound Rashard Mendenhall isn't only the best running back in the Midwest, he's the best prospect in the region period.
Watching both on film, I give the edge to Mendenhall as well. However, Kevin Grady (Grand Rapids, Michigan) is a record-setting running back that's headed to the University of Michigan.
Grady and Mendenhall should stage some classic one-on-one battles in the future.
Best quarterback? It's hard to believe that anyone is more polished right now than Iowa-bound gunslinger Jake Christensen.
Christensen threw for nearly 3,500 yards as a junior, he's as cool as a cucumber in the pocket and he has a canon for an arm.
Rob Schoenhoft, Evan Sharpley and Dustin Sherer are also top regional quarterbacks, but the signal caller with the biggest upside is definitely Chicago's Mike Kafka.
Kafka comes in at No. 44 in the Midwest Hot 100. He played wide receiver and quarterback as a junior. Kafka has an extremely strong arm, and he has very good size and athletic ability.
Stanford and Northwestern have both offered Kafka a scholarship.
Looking at a few prospects who are sleepers but have impressed in camps and on film are Minnesota's Zach Larsen (49), Wisconsin's Eric Schultz (57) and Indiana's Prince Kwateng (83).
We'll update the Hot 100 at the beginning of every month and break down individual positions. Some prospects will rise and some will fall. We'll also update the commit list.
If you have any questions about the Midwest Hot 100, feel free to ask on the National Recruiting Forum.
Midwest Hot 100 - July
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