will the top players in the state be this year? Duane Long
checks in to give club members an exclusive Top 15. Take a
1. Prescott Burgess, LB/DB, Warren Harding (6-3, 210, 4.8) - We will list Prescott as a strong safety because that is what he prefers, and because he is such a great athlete, he could still play there in college even at this size. But we think he will be a LB. Last year, despite all the amazing talent at LB in Ohio, I would have taken Prescott Burgess as a junior over all of them if I was given a choice. A ballhawk and a hitter with instincts second to none, Prescott makes the every-down plays and the spectacular plays. What may be the most amazing part is Burgess has not played a great deal of football. He has so much yet to learn and should not be this good this soon, but he is.
I call him "Sudden" because he appears all of a sudden and then the play is over. Don't let that 40-time fool you; football speed and track speed are two entirely different things. Football speed is read, react and run, and while the 40-time is important, it only accounts for one-third of that equation.
Burgess reminds me very much of Tampa Bay Buccaneer All-Pro Derrick Brooks. I think it would shock everyone if he does not commit to Ohio State, and more than likely, that will happen before the season starts. Offers are already on the table from the Buckeyes as well as from Michigan, Tennessee, Penn State, Michigan State, and Iowa.
2. Shawn Crable, DE/LB, Massillon Washington (6-6, 225, 4.65) - Shawn has enormous raw potential. Last year, Massillon Washington's defense did not allow him to really show his stuff (he did not play in an attack style of defense; he ended up dropping into coverage as much as he rushed the passer), but it could help make him a more well-rounded player.
If he ends up at LB I think it will help him in the long run, I believe he will be a DE. He has a massive frame and plenty of room to grow. He is listed at 6-6, and anybody who has seen him will tell you he is at least that tall and maybe taller. He has long arms that will help him to keep blockers off his body and has unusual athleticism for a player his size. Offers are already on the table from Ohio State, Michigan and Tennessee.
4. Donte Whitner, DB, Cleveland Glenville (5-10, 170, 4.3) - I don't know where I would play Donte "Lights Out" Whitner. He has the right size for corner and runs in the low 4.3s, but he hits like a truck. I don't know whether to compare him to Mike Doss or Antoine Winfield. He currently plays SS for Glenville.
When I spoke with him earlier in the year, he said he was going to add 20 lbs, and with his work ethic, I could see that happening. He is a very mature young man and very focused and was carrying a 3.8 GPA the last time we spoke. That would make me want to play him at one of the safety spots so he could become the leader of the secondary. It doesn't matter where Whitner plays, just make sure he is on your team somewhere. He is a great football player and a fine young man.
5. Sian Cotton, DT/OL, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (6-5, 300, 5.0) - Cotton falls into the "freak" category. He is 300 and couldn't get below 280 if his life depended on it, but he's mobile enough to play center on the St. Vincent-St. Mary basketball team. He was highly impressive at the Ohio State camp last June as he ran a 5.0 at 300 lbs and showed surprising agility for a young man his size. I spoke to coach Jay Brophy recently and he put something in my head that I had not considered before -- Sian as an offensive tackle. Because of his mobility and athleticism for his size, we just assumed he would be a DT in college, but with his great feet, what an offensive tackle he would make! Sian would be the best player at either of those positions in the state of Ohio.
Sian missed several games last year due to grades, but he will be eligible this year. He would have been eligible last year by OHSAA standards, but that was not good enough for St. Vincent-St. Mary. Sian will camp at Ohio State again and will probably go down to camp at Miami (FL), the Alma Mater of Coach Brophy. Alabama and Virginia are at the top of a long list of schools interested in this unique athlete, but it will probably come down to Ohio State and Miami.
6. Dareus Hiley, ATH Cleveland Glenville (6-1, 175, 4.42) - Dareus is the best athlete in Ohio since Charles Woodson. We think he will play corner, but he could just as easily play wide receiver or quarterback. Every year while watching Ohio players I see special athletes, but Hiley is in a class by himself. Players like this come along only once in a great while. He is a human highlight film.
Dareus is cat-quick, and his ability to change direction looks like something straight out of a Hollywood action movie. At the recent junior combine in Texas, he ran a 4.42 electronically timed and finished no lower than third in any drill.
I like Dareus' ability at WR better than other positions. His after-the-catch skills are something you need to see to believe, and his size (6-1) is legit, but he does need to be more consistent in catching the ball. He can kickoff and punt as well.
Dareus favors Ohio State, Michigan, West Virginia, Miami, and Penn State. If his grades were in better shape, we would have rated him at least #2 in this class.
7. Marcel Frost, TE/DE, Lyndhurst Brush (6-5, 230, 4.7) - Marcel is the most athletic big man in this class. I can't decide which side of the ball he will play on. At TE, he is already a very advanced player. He has great hands and runs great routes, and he is athletic enough to line up as a WR. He has great balance and runs with great power, and after the catch, he is like a bull in a China shop. On one touchdown catch I saw, he took on five tacklers and beat them all, fighting off three of them inside the 5-yard line.
I have compared Louis Irizary to Tony Gonzalez of the
Kansas City Chiefs. I would compare Marcel Frost to former Steeler Eric
Green. Marcel is not as big as Green, but his game is the same as he is a
surprising agile young man with great hands who has a feel for the passing game
and is a very dangerous open field runner after