We are back with our fourth installment of our look at the top 105 prospects in the Class of 2006 in Ohio high school football. This list was published in the May edition of Ohio High magazine, which will be on newsstands and in mailboxes any day. Recruiting editor Duane Long produces these rankings and comments on each player.
We started this series with a look at the players ranked from No. 51 to No. 105. The second installment looked at players ranked No. 31 to No. 50. Then, we looked at players ranked from No. 21 to No. 30. Today, we'll examine the players ranked from No. 11 to No. 20.
11. **** Kurt Coleman 5-11
190 CB/WR Clayton Northmont
Talk about coming out of nowhere. In February, Kurt Coleman was just another name on my list of players to look at. Now, he is a four-star player with an early offer from Ohio State. He also has offers from Boston College, Wisconsin, Purdue and Eastern Michigan. After seeing him, I can now see why his name was on my list.
Coleman had 10 interceptions last year. He took two back for scores, and two others returned for touchdowns were called back due to penalties. He played some corner last year, but mostly safety. It looks like he will get a look at corner first. Big corners are highly prized these days with all these big receivers we are seeing.
Coleman was also a very effective receiver, catching 16 passes for seven touchdowns. But it seems everyone wants to take Coleman's good size and 4.4 40 and put him on defense. Coleman had 91 tackles last season and is said to have put three players out of the game against Piqua.
As soon as I saw Coleman, he immediately reminded me of E.J. Underwood, one of the most naturally gifted corners I have seen in Ohio high school football. This kid has a bigger frame and very long arms. He could be very special.
**** Jeff Cumberland 6-6
222 TE/DE Columbus Brookhaven
Cumberland first got my attention after a four-sack playoff performance as a sophomore but really stood out this year as a tight end. Cumberland is athletic and quick and has big hands and a really good frame, but he needs to add weight. I think he can get to the 240-245 pound range with no impact on his speed and athleticism.
Cumberland is a good overall athlete as he is a fine basketball player, but he understands he will be a football player on the next level. He also has good feet and runs very well. I am looking forward to getting a 40 time on him. He says he runs a 4.5; after seeing him on film, I won't argue that, and it is the difference between he and Josh Chichester. Cumberland had 19 catches last year for 375 yards and seven touchdowns in an offense that did not feature the tight end. Brookhaven enjoyed a perfect 15-0 season on its way to the Division II state title.
This is still a very raw prospect. I think we are just now starting to see what kind of player he can be. Cumberland was offered in early March by Illinois and Minnesota, with Ohio State, Miami (Fla.), Florida, Oklahoma, Maryland, Clemson, and Indiana all considering following suit.
**** Josh Chichester 6-8
200 TE/WR West Chester Lakota
Chichester is a high school receiver, and a very good one, but his size could result in a move to tight end. That is where I think he could be a very special player and why I have him rated this high. As a junior, he had 27 catches for 603 yards (22.3 average) and scored 11 touchdowns.
Chichester has receiver skills. He makes plays on the ball at its highest point like the fine basketball forward that he is. In fact, he is as highly rated as a basketball player as he is a football player. Which sport Chichester plays in college is up to him, but Lakota West football coach Larry Cox believes Josh will choose to play football. He needs to fill out and get stronger, but that is all he needs as a football player.
Chichester shows the hands that we see with top basketball players, and he uses his hands to catch the ball rather than cradling it or using their chest like kids that grew up as football-first athletes. Chichester had early football offers from Boston College, Cincinnati and Iowa, among others.
**** Ryan Palmer 6-6
280 OL Canton GlenOak
In an ordinary offensive line class, Palmer is likely the No. 1 player at his position. In a class as deep and talented as this one, he is ranked fifth. This is a kid that is the epitome of the mantra for recruiting offensive linemen out of high school – feet, frame and runs great.
All these linemen are going to get bigger, but I think Palmer or Aaron Brown may end up being the one who gets the biggest. I would not be surprised to see Palmer get another two inches taller, and he has plenty of room to fill out. Like with Aaron Brown, Palmer has the least developed body, but neither is carrying excess weight.
Palmer is the least experienced of this stellar offensive line crop in Ohio this year. He just became a starter last year as a junior. He plays guard in high school but has that long-limbed frame and the excellent feet that coaches are looking for in a tackle.
I think Ryan will be surer of himself this year. Sometimes, kids are their own worst critics, and Ryan is one of those kids. I think a year of starting and all the hype that comes with being a top recruit are going to the best thing for him. The sooner he starts to believe he is this good, the better he is going to be. Four years from now, with some time in the weightroom, plenty of reps and a dose of confidence, we could look back and say Ryan Palmer was the best from this class.
15. **** Bill Nagy 6-5
295 DT/OL Hudson
Most are going to look at Bill Nagy as an offensive lineman, but in my opinion that is because of his size. A kid this big as a high school player is going to be projected to be an offensive lineman by the time he gets on a college football field, but I think Nagy is a better defensive lineman. He has an excellent first step and reads the game well. He does a really good job of shedding blockers and uses his hands very well. He has good technique already. He uses a rip and a swim move to good effect and has a good motor. As a junior, he had 52 tackles and eight tackles-for-loss.
I know Bill prefers defense, and maybe that is why I see him as more effective as a defensive tackle. He is simply playing harder on that side of the ball. I know he plans on shedding some weight to get offers as a defensive lineman. He is a highly motivated, mature player with Ivy League grades, so don't count him out. He is a basketball player and plays third and first base in baseball. Playing third base at 295 pounds speaks volumes about this kid's feet. Northwestern is in with an offer, and Nagy (3.4 GPA) also stopped by Michigan and Notre Dame in February at their invitation.
**** Jacob Ballard 6-7
255 ATH Springboro
I can't remember the last time I called a player of this size an athlete. In fact, off the top of my head, I can't remember ever calling a player this big an athlete, but Ballard is one.
When we talk about physical specimens in this class, the name Robert Rose is the one that immediately comes to mind. Ask me for another name and I would quickly say Jacob Ballard. That is not the only thing he has in common with Rose. Both are raw prospects with such tremendous upside that down the road when we have the gift of hindsight, both may look more like top five prospects than top ten.
Ballard is a legit 6-7. The body is one that a coach can go any number of directions with. He plays tight and defensive end in high school. Ohio State and Notre Dame, among others, think he could be a defensive end. I think he could be a great offensive tackle or possibly a tight end. He is a good blocker right now and in time could be a great one. A 6-7, 280-pound tight end that has the athleticism and the hands to be effective in the passing game but is a good in-line blocker is the kind of match-up problem that keeps defensive coordinators up nights. That is very intriguing. We are also seeing 6-6 and 6-7 defensive tackles these days, so that is another possible option. There are so many possibilities with this kid.
Ballard has offers from Boston College, Miami (Ohio) and Cincinnati as I write this, with Ohio State, Notre Dame, Iowa and Purdue showing strong interest. An offer from the Buckeyes is highly likely to be accepted on the spot. I would not be surprised if we see that offer after a good camp showing this summer. He attended OSU's spring game.
**** John Ryan 6-5
240 DE Cleveland St. Ignatius
We are used to seeing quarterbacks come out of St. Ignatius, but the linemen, particularly defensive ends, have been making a greater impact at the college level in recent years. We had Pat and Mike Massey come out of St. Ignatius, both now Michigan Wolverines, and here we have the next in line.
Ryan plays with the kind of intensity that makes great pass rushers. He has a great motor and comes off the edge hard. He has a nice first step, the frame to fill out to 255 or so and has some nasty in his game. Ryan has a reported 4.7-second 40 and will also play tight end next year as top tight end prospect Jim Ramella has graduated. This year's top ten is a pretty elite group, but John Ryan is one of a short list of players that I think could threaten to break that group up. Ryan has offers from Notre Dame, Michigan State, Syracuse, and Boston College, among others.
18. **** Kallen Wade 6-5
210 DE Cincinnati Withrow
Wade is the most productive of this good-looking class of defensive ends, with 13 sacks as a sophomore. He is long and lean like another recent Cincinnati defensive end, Woodward's Ray Edwards, who is a starter at Purdue. Wade is a better football player and playmaker than Robert Rose right now but just doesn't have the body. Wade looks like he could top off at about 245 whereas Rose is 238 already. Wade is more advanced than Rose but is still raw himself.
Wade shows good instincts and a good motor. He does a really good job of using his imposing reach to keep blockers off that lean body. There's a lot of upside here, and if he can add the weight without affecting his speed and athleticism, this is a future All-American just waiting to happen. Wade was invited to junior day at Ohio State and as of press time had offers from Notre Dame, Boston College, Illinois, Cincinnati and Miami (Ohio) to go with interest from Ohio State, Florida, Minnesota, Duke, Northwestern, Purdue and Michigan State. Wade ended the suspense, though, in late April by verbaling to Notre Dame.
**** Arvell Nelson 6-4
190 QB Cleveland Glenville
There may not be a coach used to seeing more talent walking around his school's hallways than Glenville's Ted Ginn. So when Ginn got so excited during a conversation with me about Arvell Nelson's off-season progress, it definitely got my attention.
Last year, Nelson did not throw a lot of passes as it was his first year as a starter, and at times, it showed. He finished with 722 yards passing on 43 completions in 78 attempts and 8 touchdowns in four games. But since then, Nelson seems to have put in the work, studying his playbook and learning the offense in the off-season. He seems more confident, and that means everything with an athlete, but no position needs confidence more than quarterback.
Nelson has all the physical tools you want in a quarterback. He has a big arm – even bigger than Nate Davis, which is saying something. He is even more athletic than Mike Hartline. He is a multi-dimensional threat. Experience is all he needs.
By the time summer camps are over, Nelson could be the new No. 1 quarterback in this outstanding Ohio class for 2006. I would have him a few places higher if his grades were in order. He is likely to make it but has his work cut out for him.
20. **** Robert L. Williams
CB Cincinnati Withrow
I watch Williams' tape over and over again. I just can't get over how this kid seems to find the ball and get his hands on it. Uncanny is the word I come up with.
Every coach tries to teach his defensive backs to go after every pass as if it were his, and Williams does that. He challenges every ball and seems to come down with more than his share. Once he gets the ball is when the magic starts. I don't have his interception return average, but I am sure it is in the double digits. Even with fumbles, Williams seems to be the one that comes up with the ball. But this is not just a ball hawk. Williams is an excellent tackler. He will not shy away from contact.
Williams is most adept in the open field and may be the best punt returner in Ohio. He is worth a scholarship just to return kicks. Williams received an early offer from Boston College and Notre Dame will have likely followed suit by the time you read this. Ohio State, Purdue, Michigan State, Cincinnati, Miami (Ohio) and Kent are also showing interest. He is the most underrated player in Ohio. Williams attended OSU's spring game.
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