EDITOR'S NOTE – Today we are beginning a 14-part series where we unveil the top 101 football prospects in Ohio's Class of 2007. These rankings were assembled by Bucknuts and Ohio High recruiting editor Duane Long. They were originally published in the May 2006 edition of Ohio High magazine.
Before we get into the first installment, we will share some of Long's general comments on Ohio's top prospects.
On the various message boards, there are regular disagreements over how a player is ranked. For some, a three-star recruit is a reach for a top 20 program. Others argue that history has proven rankings mean nothing. Naysayers usually go on to list any number of players that have proven the "star system" is dicey at best.
This class of 2007 may not end all arguments about the advantages and disadvantages of the star system, but it makes me somewhat uncomfortable with the numbering system. Fans want to see not only a top 100 but they want them in order. With a class as deep as the class of 2007, I look at players I have barely in the top 20 and I cringe.
The term "top-10 prospect" has a cache to it. It smacks of elite prospect but that is not always the case. Looking back at previous classes, there were players in the top 10 that were not really top 10 talents but they had to be ranked in order. Occasionally, there classes that don't have 10 elite prospects. On the other hand, there are classes like the class of 2007 with at least 20 kids that would be top 10 in most other years.
For instance, take Massillon linebacker/safety Andrew Dailey. In the class of 2006, a deep class in its own right, Dailey is a top-10 player. In the class of 2005 he is a top-five player. Ranking him in the "good prospects" range and not with the elite prospects where he belongs leads me to believe the star system is more accurate than most perceive. Dailey is a five-star player.
The ranking system could even be taken a step farther. Players could be ranked by position as well as by the star system. Let's take a look at the linebackers in the class using that system. It would look something like this:
***** Jermale Hines
***** Andrew Dailey
**** Vince Harris
**** George Tabron
**** Ricardo Thompson
**** Tyler Replogle
This ranking is a more accurate representation of what kind of player Andrew Dailey is than a No. 18 ranking overall in a class. Recruiting is done by position; therefore, rankings should be done by position.
South Point quarterback Chris Smith is another example. Smith is a five-star quarterback who has USC and Oklahoma requesting tape on him. He has the most scholarship offers on the table right now of the quarterbacks in this class, yet here he is ranked No. 19.
The problem is not with the star system. It is with making accurate evaluations about the players. No system is perfect but the star system coupled with accurate evaluations is the most fair and most accurate system. Add in ranking by position, and that could be the best system for ranking players.
On to the class of 2007, which should forever to be known as the "Magnificent '07".
I grew up in Columbus, Ohio during the Woody Hayes years. The phrase "You Win with People" was all over Columbus, which was a famous Hayes saying. Hayes meant that winning requires good people with good character. He probably also meant winning requires good talent. As a result, I was always paying attention to the top high school talent.
I really caught the "top high school talent" bug with the class of 1990. Ohio had the consensus No. 1 player in the country in Robert Smith. That class in Ohio was loaded. Running back Ricky Powers, who went to Michigan, was ranked ahead of Smith by at least one talent evaluation service. Wide receiver Joey Galloway was in that class as well as quarterback Joe Pickens, who was ranked the No. 1 player in the country by one recruiting service. Until the class of 2001 with A.J. Hawk, Mike D'Andrea, Bobby Carpenter, Maurice Clarett, Justin Zwick and Troy Smith, the class of 1990 was the benchmark for me.
The class of 2006 was the equal of the class of 2001 and it may have even been better. But now it really doesn't matter. The king is dead ... long live the king.
The class of 2007 is so deep that all future classes will be measured up against it. It starts with a safety class that is simply mind-boggling with its depth, including the spectacular Eugene Clifford (Colerain), continues with the Mike Doss-like Nate Oliver (Lakewood St. Edward), through one of the best all-around athletes in the class in Copley's David Arnold, to the underrated Chris Givens (Chillicothe). These players are all in the top 20 but they would be in the top 10 any other year.
There are safeties down in the lower half of the top 100 that could end up at Big Ten or Big East schools.
Quietly, this has become a really good quarterback class as well. Last year's class was a bit of a disappointment. It simply did not live up to expectations. Any of the top five in this class would have been number one last year. Clay Belton from Clayton Northmont and Chris Smith from South Point headline this talented class and Mitchell Evans from Milton-Union is a small school athlete that could end up being a top recruit. Jones and Williams need to be mentioned with the other three. Also remember the names Skylar Jones (Middletown) and Jason Williams (Miamisburg).
There is not a lot of depth with the running backs in this class but the top runners are elite. Before seeing Piqua's Brandon Saine, I assumed he was a small scatback because he was such a great sprinter, but he is not. Think of Maurice Greene and not Carl Lewis when thinking of Saine. He runs between the tackles as well as he runs wide. If he is not a national top-10 back, then this is a monster year for backs.
One of the most underrated players in the class is Winton Woods running back Hosea Simpson. He is special. Then there's Morgan Williams of Canton McKinley. The fact that a player like Williams is no better than the third-best back speaks volumes about the lesser-publicized Saine and Simpson.
Warren Harding's Daniel Herron is also a very good back, one who looks significantly better than the first time I saw him. His junior year tape was quite impressive and it is no wonder Ohio State and Michigan have had him down for visits.
Defensive end may begin with Ben Martin but it does not end there. Martin is the best defensive end prospect I have seen in Ohio. Solomon Thomas (West Chester Lakota West) just might be the next best.
There are three of four other defensive ends that are likely to get Big Ten or Big East offers. Chaminade-Julienne's Rob Trigg has a Pittsburgh offer already.
There is size and athleticism at receiver in this class but no position is more speed intensive. Speed numbers at camps and combines will tell the tale for a number of receivers in Ohio. Unknown Tomaz Hilton from Youngstown Rayen could be the talk of Ohio with a top speed number and the same goes for Dover's Dan Ifft. Both wideouts have the size, hands and athleticism of elite prospects.
This class can be summed up in one word: athlete. Safeties are athletes and with so many top safeties in this class it is the perfect way to describe the class of 2007. So many players in this class are great athletes, even the linemen. At 6-5, 225 pounds, Ben Martin runs for a very good 4x100 relay team. The best linemen in the class are Hilliard Darby's Antonio Jeremiah and Gahanna Lincoln's John Hughes because they are so athletic. As a result, it is hard to not project them as defensive tackles even though they could be great offensive linemen. Athletes are abound in this class.
Here is the list of Ohio's prospects ranked No. 51 to 101, followed by a list of other senior prospects.
51. *** Kendall Washington
6-4 190 WR/S Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas
Is he a receiver? Is he a safety? Is he a linebacker? In a class full of versatile players, Kendall Washington might be the most versatile. During the regular season, he had 30 catches for 585 yards and six touchdowns.
I did not see Washington play safety, but everyone is looking for bigger kids to play safety. Moving back is not as easy as moving down, so it doesn't happen as much.
He is an excellent tackler and shows good instincts. I see him as a defensive player because of his speed. If he runs well this summer at camps, he will rocket up the boards of the top schools as a receiver. He has everything else to be an outstanding receiver.
He will be at the Scout.com combine in Louisville.
52. *** Josh Copeland
6-1 190 S Fairborn
Fairborn is tucked down in Southwestern Ohio. It is a bit off the recruiting map. But with talents like offensive lineman Jarrod Smith last year, who committed to Indiana, and Josh Copeland this year, head coach Roy Thobe could find his quiet little corner of Ohio developing into a regular stop.
Copeland is one of those players that gets recruited as an athlete. I list him as a safety because that is where I think he ends up.
When I first saw Copeland, I thought he was a very impressive running back. He played some running back in 2005, but Fairborn got a lot better when Thobe moved his best player to quarterback.
Copeland is one of those athletes that is so smooth and effortless that he looks like he is not working hard. But it is obvious that he is working hard on the first play on the tape Thobe sent me. Copeland ran down Trotwood-Madison speedster Jovanni Chappel from behind with no angle. He just went and got him. A player has to have some speed and use all of it to catch a player with speed like Chappel's.
Copeland was invited to a game at Notre Dame last year and he has been to a junior day at Purdue. Ohio State recruiting coordinator Jon Peterson was in to get a tape. Josh plays basketball and is a solid student – qualifying should not be an issue.
53. *** Alex Kaufman
6-2 220 LB West Chester Lakota West
Because of Solomon Thomas (No. 7), there are going to be a slew of top programs stopping by Lakota this season. They may go there looking at Thomas but will come away just as impressed with Alex Kaufman.
He is ideal size for a high school linebacker and he is a very smart football player. It is apparent he is making decisions about what to do on the field just by watching him. He is very aware of what is going on with opposing offenses. At this age, a player that is already making pre-snap reads is a big plus.
Kaufman is an excellent blitzer and a very smart one. He will back off a blitz when he sees he does not have a shot. So many kids would just go and rely on their athletic ability to get them through.
This is a prime candidate for the strong side of the defense because he is so good in coverage and so comfortable. Vince Harris (No. 23) may be the only linebacker in the class that is as good in coverage.
Lakota West head coach Larry Cox says Kaufman is one of the hardest workers he has ever had. He will be a sure qualifier.
He has the body to fill out to 240 pounds and Cox gives him a 4.7-40 . If he runs that well or better at camps this summer, Kaufman will be one of the most heavily recruited players in Ohio next year.
54. *** Perci Garner
6-2 190 QB Dover
Perci Garner is the best thing that happened to his teammate Dan Ifft.
Garner's arrival allowed Ifft to move back to wide receiver, the position, where he will be a big-time recruit. Ifft was a good quarterback, top 100 as a matter of fact, so Garner was going to have to be a good one for Dover head coach Dan Ifft to make the move.
Garner reminds me a lot of Nate Davis of Bellaire, one of last year's top quarterbacks who committed to Ball State. His arm is almost as strong as Davis's, meaning he has a big time arm. But Garner's is a little bigger and more athletic.
He threw for an amazing 4,003 yards and a whopping 40 touchdowns last season. Yes, he threw the ball a lot (363 attempts) but he completed 242 of those passes. That is a 67 percent clip with only 10 interceptions.
Quarterback is the toughest position in all of sports to master and those numbers are from his first year as a high school starter. He shows real pocket presence and a cool head. His attempts to interceptions ratio speaks volumes about what kind of quarterback mind Garner has.
I have to be excited about his upside.
55. *** Matt Yarab
6-1 220 LB/FB Youngstown Ursuline
I have liked this kid since the first time I saw him.
Yarab was a tough, instinctive linebacker that played as a freshman. At the time, Ursuline was one of the better programs in the state and putting out a lot of talent. Breaking into the lineup at such an early age was even more impressive considering the position he played.
Yarab is thriving under coach Dan Reardon at Ursuline. This kid has a great frame on him and he will easily add 20 pounds. Yarab is a weightroom warrior with a work ethic second to none.
He is in his element between the tackles. He bends his knees and takes on blockers with his hands, not letting them get into his body. He gets off the blocks efficiently and is a great tackler.
However, I saw a new element this year – Reardon is using Yarab in a one back set. If someone wants a fullback that actually carries the ball, get to Ursuline and offer Matt Yarab. He is a very good runner and an excellent receiver. Yarab took direct snaps last year both running and throwing the ball.
Reardon will use him as a safety this year on defense and that is an indication as to what kind of an athlete Yarab is.
He collected over 200 tackles between his sophmore and junior seasons.
56. *** Mike Madsen
6-5 275 OL Youngstown Cardinal Mooney
Madsen is a big framed, long-armed player that can really run. He is a very active kid gets downfield chasing plays that have broken for long runs.
Madsen has a lot of room to fill out and he needs time in the weight room. I have seen him listed at 6-6 and he very well could be. He plays left tackle in high school and he has a tackle's length and a tackle's feet. I would like to see him bending at the knee a little more, however. I don't think he is a kid that earns early playing time for that reason. Offensive linemen and quarterbacks are the least ready to play as true freshmen so that is not out of the ordinary.
I really like to see hustle on the field with big kids. It gives some indication of their willingness to work. That is all Madsen needs. If he works, he is going to be a major contributor to some program.
The Mooney talent dictated a run first offense, so he will need to work on his pass blocking. Again, this is something that most high school linemen need to work on when they get to college.
57. *** Pete Rolf
6-5 220 DE Piqua
Piqua has enough defensive linemen in this class for a couple of teams. There are three of them in this top 100 alone.
Dusty Snyder (No. 64) and Jafe Pitcock (No. 72) put up better numbers, but Rolf is the one that the college coaches are going to get excited about.
He is athletic enough to play as an outside linebacker in high school and he is an outstanding OLB, but this long, lean athlete with an impressive wingspan is going to grow into a defensive end.
Piqua head coach Bill Nees reports a 4.76-second 40 , but I think Rolf gets that down in time. I like his football speed.
Rolf had 55 tackles and six sacks on the year in 2005. I think his best is in front of him. He just leaps out at you and plays tight end, too.
After one of his interceptions last year, he took off like a tight end would take off after the catch. But with Brandon Saine in the backfield, there are not a lot of opportunities to catch the ball in the Piqua offense.
He plays with some nastiness, so I see him as a defensive player, but some schools will be interested in him at tight end.
Qualifying is not going to be a problem for this 3.3 student. He is an all-around great looking, big athlete.
58. *** Sidney Glover
5-11 203 DB/RB Warren Harding
There was not much action around the Harding program last year on the recruiting front. That is highly unusual for this legendary program. That is going to change this year. There are at least four Division I players in this class from Harding.
Glover is a high school quarterback that projects as a running back or a defensive back in college. If the option were still a widely used offense, Glover would be a recruited player at quarterback.
The skill Glover demonstrates at quarterback is what shows what kind of running back he could be. He is outstanding. This is a well put together kid with a burst that is only believed when it is seen. He reads the game well and is at top speed in a blink of an eye once he decides to keep the ball. He is very elusive in the open field.
Glover had some highlight reel runs on the tape Harding head coach Thom McDaniels sent. He is a starter on defense at safety and is just as impressive there if not more so than at quarterback. He shows the same skill with reading the game and the same explosiveness when it comes to hitting stopping ball carriers in their tracks.
McDaniels gives him a 4.7-40 and that time can be taken to the bank. His football speed looks better than that, however. For a 4.7 player, he ran away from a lot of tacklers and closed on ball carriers quickly.
Running back is a possibility at the next level, but I think he is going to be a dynamite safety.
59. Kendrick Bruton
6-3 215 DE/TE Miamisburg
With Bruton, I thought I would see a kid that projects as a linebacker. But after seeing him on tape, he is a defensive end all the way.
Bruton has a frame to fill out to a Division I sized end yet has the speed to play linebacker if a school wanted to try him there. He plays defensive end in high school and seems at his best attacking the quarterback.
He does a good job of getting off blocks and plays hard all the time. He is impressive as a tight end, but I think he will be a defensive player in college. Bruton had 35 total tackles last year, including 23 solos, five for a loss, and 4½ quarterback sacks. He also had two pass break-ups.
Miamisburg head coach head coach Tim Lewis feels like the kid is just scratching the surface. After seeing him on tape, I would agree with that. He got better as the year went on.
He is the brother of Notre Dame safety David Bruton, so the genes are there.
60. *** Steve Matas
6-3 250 DE/DT Mentor
We are seeing a rebirth of the 3-4 defense. A 4-3 defensive tackle can be made into a 3-4 defensive end, but that is not an ideal situation. Most 4-3 defensive tackles will do a fine job against the run at defensive end, but they are not going to be quick enough to defeat the athletic tackles they will run into on the pass rush.
Matas, on the other hand, is an ideal 3-4 defensive end. I think he could be a good defensive tackle in college, but he fits a 3-4 at defensive end perfectly. Matas has the better burst often looked for in a 3-4 defensive end and really good straight ahead speed. He is a very physical player at the point of attack and has some nastiness in his game.
Matas holds the point like a defensive tackle should hold the point and he is also a relentless pursuer. He reminds me of Pittsburgh Steeler Pro Bowl defensive end Aaron Smith because he is so fast for his size.
He has the advantage of playing in a 3-4 right now in high school and Matas plays it smart and is technically sound.
This is one of the more underrated players in Ohio this year.
61. *** Erique Robertson
5-11 200 S/LB Maple Heights
It is an embarrassment of riches in Ohio at safety this year. In any other year Erique Robertson would be one of the first names from Ohio that comes to mind. This year he is not being mentioned, but that doesn't mean anything.
Robertson is a great football player. He is a high school linebacker that projects as a strong safety.
He is outstanding against the run and takes on much bigger players almost relishing in it. Robertson is a sure tackler as well as a hitter. He has a high football I.Q. and is regularly where he needs to be to make plays. He is also a great blitzer. Contrary to popular belief, there is something more to blitzing than just too many people to block. He is as good as any of the higher rated safeties in this class.
Robertson plays with such intensity that he almost needs to be calmed down. He has a 4.5-40 and some weightroom numbers that a good chunk of the offensive linemen in the state would envy.
Robertson carries a 3.0 core GPA.
62. *** R.J. Peake
5-11 180 CB Akron Buchtel
This kid could have the best instincts of all the cornerbacks in Ohio this year.
Peake reads quarterbacks like a much more experienced player and his anticipation is second to none. It is not uncommon for great athletes to play defense because they can't catch the ball, but Peake catches the ball so well someone may want to try him on offense.
Some of Peake's interceptions were highlight reel material. He intercepted nine passes last season and took six back for touchdowns. It would have been eight touchdowns if on one of his interceptions he had not been dragged down by the facemask, and doing everything but catch the ball on another play where he would have walked down the sidelines with the ball if he had hung on. He read the play and stepped in front of the quarterback but started running before he had the ball. On two others he was knocked out of bounds, once on the five-yard line and once on the two-yard line.
Peake is a big play corner but he also is a solid cover man. He has the feet and hips to be a big-time corner prospect. He looks bigger than his listed 5-11 and Buchtel head coach Claude Brown reports a 4.5-40 . That is a good time but will not be good enough knowing Brown. He will work with Peake to get that time down.
63. *** Skylar Jones
6-1 180 QB Middletown
This is the best athlete playing quarterback in Ohio. Jones is my kind of quarterback. He is an excellent passer, but at the same time, he will gut a defense with his ability to make plays with his feet. Jones is what I call a dynamic quarterback; he will throw the ball first and run second, always threatening a defense. He is never in a passive position. Jones is constantly probing and trying to get the defense to commit.
Last season, Jones was 155 for 299 passing for 2,135 yards and 21 touchdowns and added 760 yards rushing and nine touchdowns.
One interesting aspect of Jones is he is a powerlifter. I can't remember the last time I saw a powerlifting quarterback. He has a 225-pound bench press, 345 squat, 220 clean and a 360 deadlift. Add to that a 4.41 40 , plus Jones is the top returning 300-meter hurdler in Ohio. He made the state meet in the 300 meter hurdles and the 4x400 relay last year.
Most interestingly, Jones is coming off his first year in this system. Ron Johnson came to the Middletown program last summer and he is arguably the most underrated coach in Ohio. He is a former college assistant and has a knack for developing quarterbacks. His starter at Westlake, Jon Brown, ended up starting at least one game as a freshman at Kent. Jones is bigger than Brown, has a better arm and is more athletic.
It will be interesting to see what happens with another year under the tutelage of Johnson. This is one I will keep my eye on.
64. *** Jason Williams
6-3 185 QB Miamisburg
Last year I saw a senior quarterback class not live up to expectations. The class of 2007 would still be a better looking class even if the class of 2006 had lived up to expectations because of quarterbacks like Jason Williams.
Williams is a really good looking quarterback. He is a pocket passer with excellent mechanics and a live arm. Last year was his first as a starter and he showed toughness and hung in there to deliver the ball even with pass rushers in his face. His coach, Tim Lewis, was impressed with the leadership Williams showed.
He was asked to throw every pass in the book and Williams showed he could deliver. He threw in routes sharply and got the deep out there with good velocity. He also showed good touch on the long ball and on the fades.
Williams is a pocket passer but he is a pretty good athlete. He had 62 rushes for 276 yards and six touchdowns last year with his 4.66 speed. Additionally, Williams was 112 of 211 for a 53 percent passing percentage and 1,632 yards with 14 touchdowns. Not bad for a first year quarterback.
For me, the most impressive statistic is Williams completed 20 or more passes to four different receivers in 2005.
65. *** B.J. Cunningham
6-1 185 WR Westerville South
Westerville South quarterback Rocco Pentello has thrown for some big yardage in his career. Having a receiver like Cunningham is the main reason why.
I had never heard his name until I got the tape from Westerville South head coach Rocky Pentello, but this is one of the better receivers in Ohio. He is well put together but he could fill out to about 200 pounds.
Cunningham runs great routes. He will do something that few high school players do – he runs his routes out even if he is not the primary receiver. Cunningham's hands are as good as any receiver in the state. He shows great ball awareness making sure he is between the ball and the defender. Cunningham has the uncanny ability to make contact with a defender, come down with the ball and keep his feet. He shows real strength on the ball and after the catch and is very hard to bring down.
It has been some time since the Westerville South program has had a Big Ten recruit. This is a program that gave the Buckeyes Andy Katzenmoyer and Penn State Ki-jana Carter. If he runs well this summer, Cunningham could be the next one.
66. *** Dusty Snyder
6-2 240 DE Piqua
When it comes to football skills, Dusty Snyder can put his game film up against any other defensive end in the class. If he were 6-4 or better, he would be in the top 40.
He comes off the ball like he is shot out of a cannon. He has a 4.75 40 but his football speed, which is something I have become more and more a believer in every year, is better than that. He is on top of quarterbacks as quickly as any defensive end in the class not named Ben Martin or Solomon Thomas.
Snyder could play with his hand on the ground but he might be most suited as weak side 3-4 defensive end/outside linebacker. He plays with such intensity and reacts so quickly to what is going on around him. Snyder could be the smartest football player in the class.
Snyder racked up eight sacks and 14 tackles for loss in a stellar junior campaign. One play on his tape showed Snyder's football I.Q. when a tackle tried to cut him right off the snap. Snyder got his hands out in front of him, buried the tackle then leaped up and intercepted the pass.
He played well against a future superstar in Clayton Northmont junior to be offensive lineman Zebrie Sanders, who is 6-6, 260 pounds right now. Several of his plays against Sanders were highlight reel material, and Sanders is destined to be a national top 10 offensive lineman and is one of the best football players in Ohio.
67. *** Frankie Edmonds
5-7 190 RB Lakewood St. Edward
Frankie Edmonds is not a small back - he is a short back. Tackling him is a real chore. Potential tacklers get a whirling dervish of knees, elbows and pads.
He is not a small back with a big back's power game. He is not one of those little scatbacks that rely on their quickness and elusiveness to avoid tacklers. I can't come up with a back to compare him to. Frankie Edmonds has the Frankie Edmonds style. He is unique.
Edmonds rushed for over 2,000 yards against arguably the toughest schedule in Ohio high school football last season. He was hurt late in the playoff run, and the loss played a big role in St. Edward getting knocked off in the state semifinal.
Everyone is going to find everything wrong with Edmonds until about January of next year when they will realize why they are watching film of him. He is a really good football player. Edmonds received early offers from Miami (Ohio) and Akron.
68. *** Blake McCroskey
6-5 250 TE/OL Dayton Chaminade-Julienne
McCroskey is my top pick for the dark horse of this class. It is amazing how good he is considering last year was his first year playing football. McCroskey is a natural.
For a veteran, successful coach like Jim Place to feel comfortable playing a first year player at left tackle speaks volumes for what kind of talent this kid is.
McCroskey is so athletic and so fluid. He obviously needs time in the weightroom but the sky is the limit. Place has seen him in practice and feels like he will be a tight end, but there will be a coach making his regular stop through C-J and like Blake McCroskey right where he is at tackle.
McCroskey is a sure qualifier.
69. *** Marlon Parker
6-2 216 LB Warren Harding
Parker is an undersized high school defensive end that has the speed to make the transition to linebacker at the college level. Parker is a high motor player that is very physical and is a punishing tackler.
Harding head coach Thom McDaniels has Parker listed with a 4.8-40 , but his football speed is better than that. He shows an excellent burst. I would like to see linemen run a "10" instead of a 40. As former All-Pro linebacker Bill Romanowski said, the only time a lineman runs 40 yards is to congratulate a teammate.
From his side of the line of scrimmage to the offensive backfield, Marlon Parker is as fast as anyone. He could be an ideal 3-4 outside linebacker. Level of competition matters, and Parker has that as a plus as few, if any school, plays a tougher schedule than Harding.
Parker also plays running back but he did not get a lot of opportunities last year with Dan Herron taking all the reps. Parker received early offers from Boston College and Indiana.
70. ** Chris Rucker
6-1 180 WR/DB Warren Harding
It wouldn't be difficult to find a more spectacular player than Chris Rucker, but it would be difficult find one more consistent.
Rucker does so many things well. He runs good routes, gets open, catches everything thrown to him, gets yardage after the catch, works the middle of the field, and he will block. Long runs don't happen unless the receivers are blocking and Dan Herron had a lot of long runs last year.
As a safety, Rucker plays as well against the pass as any safety in Ohio and has such great ball skills. His leaping ability, his superb hands and the uncanny ability to get his hands on the ball when it is up for grabs stands out the most. Harding head coach Thom McDaniels reports a 4.5-second 40 .
If I were making the call, I would play him at wide receiver.
71. *** Marcus O'Hara
6-6 295 OT Hubbard
A friend is convinced that we are seeing these freaky sized kids because they are putting growth hormones in beef. After seeing the size of some of these kids these days, I am not ready to dismiss his conspiracy theory outright.
It seems like we are seeing at least one kid every year that could really qualify as a giant. Marcus O'Hara is that kid this year.
I am not just talking about just being huge - I am talking about being huge and athletic. O'Hara can get a lot bigger. He is going to weigh 330 pounds if he never sees the inside of a weight room and he could get even bigger than that.
O'Hara moves well enough to be a right tackle in high school and he could be athletic enough to stay there in college. However, he will most likely move inside to guard.
He is still pretty raw and needs to work on bending at the knee instead of at the waist. He also reaches sometimes. Those technique issues are easily straightened out because O'Hara plays so hard. He doesn't stand around when the play goes away from him or if he takes his assignment down. He constantly looks for another defender to attack.
O'Hara has a 300 bench press, 280 power clean and runs 5.5-second 40.
72. * Joe Flading
6-4 265 OL Cincinnati Anderson
I am a little surprised that I am just now learning about Joe Flading.
When I first popped the tape in, I was surprised because I thought Mark Wetterer (No. 39) played left tackle. I checked my notes from my conversation with Anderson head coach Vince Suriano. Sure enough Wetterer was his left tackle. That is when I noticed Coach had mentioned he thought his right tackle was a Division I caliber prospect. I would agree with him.
Flading is a highly mobile kid with a great body. He is going to be 300 pounds in no time. Flading is a battler. He stays after it until the whistle. If there is nobody in front of him, he helps a teammate or goes looking for someone to block.
I first heard about Wetterer when he was a sophmore. It is very difficult to believe nobody noticed the fine prospect on the other end of the line. In time, this kid could be as good if not better than Wetterer.
73. ** Chazz Anderson
6-2 200 QB Pickerington Central
Chazz Anderson is still very new to the quarterback position, which is the toughest position to master in all of sports. Last season was only his second at the position and he had to deal with the loss of his best receiver, Terrence White, to injury for the year.
Anderson has the arm strength, which is why Central head coach Jay Sharrett put him at quarterback.
There are several plays in his tape in which he lays it out 50 yards. He shows good velocity on slants and skinny posts. As a junior, he completed 109 of 213 passes for 1,331 yards in the regular season.
Even if the lack of experience at quarterback proves to be insurmountable, it isn't like Anderson would be a waste of a scholarship. He could easily move to receiver or the defensive backfield since Anderson is such a fine athlete.
If a school that can wait on him to develop, a smart highly athletic quarterback could mature in time.
Having White back this year will definitely help Anderson's development.
74. ** Jafe Pitcock
6-3 250 DT Piqua
Jafe is the brother of Ohio State defensive tackle Quinn Pitcock but it wouldn't be fair compare him to his brother.
Quinn falls into the freak category and there is usually only one of them per family. Jafe is a very good football player in his own right.
He is very quick off the ball. He plays with good balance and leverage and does a really good job of keeping blockers off his body. He shows good closing speed once he clears traffic and is relentless in pursuit. I am sometimes disappointed in the tackling technique of defensive linemen but Pitcock is a very good tackler. He runs a 4.75-second 40.
He is a high school defensive end that I think grows into a defensive tackle. A move to offensive guard is an intriguing possibility, as well.
Pitcock racked up an impressive 10 sacks and 18 tackles for loss last year.
75. ** Dane Sanzenbacher
6-0 180 WR/DB Toledo Central Catholic
Talk about stepping into the spotlight! There is no better showcase than the first weekend in December when the state of Ohio has its state championship weekend.
There were some memorable performances, but Sanzenbacher put up a strong argument for the playoffs most valuable player.
In the championship game, Sanzenbacher set a state Division II record with 140 receiving yards and tied the record for receiving touchdowns in a championship game with two, including a 60-yarder. On defense, he intercepted a pass to seal the win for Central Catholic as Canfield was driving in the weaning moments.
Sanzenbacher is similar to former Youngstown Cardinal Mooney quarterback Kyle McCarthy, who put on a similar show in the state championship game two years ago and earned offers from Ohio State and Notre Dame after the game.
Sanzenbacher could be a receiver or a safety, but he will most likely get a look at cornerback first.
Ohio State has been showing interest.
76. ** Charles Brown
5-10 180 WR Maple Heights
Everyone wants the 6-2 receivers with the 4.4-second speed. How many of them are there out there every year? How many are out there period? If they were abundant, they would not call them "freaks."
Receivers like Charles Brown get overlooked. Fans ask me all the time to compare recruits to players they are familiar with. Brown reminds me of Pittsburgh Steeler all-pro Hines Ward. He is about the same size but may be a bit faster.
Brown makes a lot of big plays. He had 38 catches for 693 yards and seven touchdowns last year.
He is very strong runner and is more like a running back after the catch. Brown catches everything thrown his way and is a great blocker – probably the best blocking receiver in the state.
Brown looked really good as a defensive back in limited reps last year but will never leave the field as a senior.
I have come to expect big weightroom numbers out of any program Jeff Rotsky is in charge of. Brown has a 310-pound bench press, 335 squat and 270 clean, which are better numbers than a lot of high school linemen.
Brown is also an outstanding kick returner.
77. ** Maurice Jones
6-0 210 S Youngstown Ursuline
Jones is a high school linebacker/defensive end that has to get a shot somewhere as a safety. It is a difficult transition moving to the secondary. We see players move down all the time but moving back means learning pass coverage. It means reading the game from an entirely different perspective. We have not seen a lot of attempts at this, let alone successes, but someone has to try with this outstanding football player.
Jones has a football I.Q. second to none. He takes on blockers and gets rid of them as well as a good college player. He is a sure tackler and everything that was asked of him he did, and did well. He looked good as a running back but was just as impressive as a blocker.
There is no doubt that Jones could be put into any position on the football field and he would hold his own.
78. ** Ernest Pitts
5-11 185 RB Akron Buchtel
I don't know if it is something in the water at Buchtel or maybe it is just something head coach Claude Brown teaches. Buchtel grad and Pittsburgh gridder Tim Murphy and Antonio Pittman and current Ohio State running back preceded Pitts at Buchtel and they all have the same thing in common – they hit the hole. There is no messing around and no wasted motion. Get in the hole then get up field as quickly as possible.
Pitts possesses outstanding acceleration and he is a very determined runner with great balance and toughness. He is as comfortable inside as he is outside and has really good vision. Pitts changes direction quickly and easily.
There are so many things to like about this much-underrated back but several stand out. He is a very determined runner. It is hard to get a hand on him but the process of getting him on the ground has just started, and he accelerates with the best of them once he sees the hole.
Ohio has several excellent backs catching the ball out of the backfield and Pitts could be the best of the lot.
Pitts has an excellent body and is built a lot like Antonio Pittman. Like Pittman, he could fill out to around 200 pounds.
79. ** Robert Anderson
6-1 200 QB Upper Arlington
Robert Anderson is one of the gutsiest competitors at the quarterback position this year.
Anderson works the entire field to keep plays alive. He threw more passes from the hash marks to the sideline last year than all the other quarterbacks in the top 100 combined. He shows a really live arm and excellent mobility.
Anderson does not have the reps that the other top quarterbacks have in this class since Upper Arlington had a coaching change last year and the quarterback position is usually the most impacted when there is a quarterback change. For the first six games of the 2005 season, Arlington was in a Wing-T. In the first game after moving away from the Wing-T, Anderson threw for 234 yards and two touchdowns.
Anderson also led UA to victory on the last drive of the game three out of the last four games.
Akron is showing interest in Anderson and he will camp at Northwestern and has been invited to the Elite 11 regional camp.
This is a kid with a lot of upside.
80. ** Bobby LaRosa
5-11 215 S/LB Avon
Bobby LaRosa is a small school superstar and level of competition could play a part in his recruiting process.
LaRosa is not a big fish in a small pond. He is a whale in a small pond. He is not just the best player on the field, he dominates in such a way that he should have to play up a level.
LaRosa is a tough minded, smart kid that brings it on every play. That is common with small school players sometimes, but LaRosa has something they don't have. He has impressive measurables. He ran a 4.64 at Ohio State's camp last year on a slow track. He has a 4.3 pro agility, a 350 pound bench press, and 185 for 25 reps. He has a 550 squat and a 9-1 broad jump. Everyone that I talked to said that was a slow track.
The real proof is on the tape. LaRosa can flat out ball.
81. ** Dan Dario
6-2 215 LB Akron Hoban
Buddy Ryan once said all Cris Carter does is catch touchdowns. Everyone laughed because that is the name of the game and that is what is expected from an offensive player. On the other side of the ball, defensive players are expected to tackle. All Dan Dario does is make tackles.
Dario had 22 tackles in one game last year and 50 over a three game span. The 22-tackle game happened to be against Akron Garfield and superstar running back Chris Wells.
Dario has started at middle linebacker for the quality Akron Hoban program for two years. I have two games on tape. In those two games, Dario made just two bad reads. He was not where he needed to be only two plays in two full games.
Dario does a great job of blitzing. He plays bigger than his listed 215 and will fill out to 235 or so in no time. He has the frame to handle the weight.
He is running about a 4.75-40 . If the entire formula could be measured, read-react-run, Dario would be right up there with the best of them.
82. ** Sean Baker
6-0 200 S Canfield
Sean Baker has played quarterback, running back and safety for Canfield. Last year he was the backup quarterback but stepped in for star running back Angelo Babbaro when he went down with an injury in the state championship game and rushed for 166 yards on 21 carries.
Baker has a go-till-you-hear-metal style that will suit him well as a college safety, or possibly as a linebacker. His dad is 6-4 and his brother is 6-3, so there is every reason to believe he is not done growing.
He is a solid and smart pass defender and is outstanding versus the run. Baker is a solid sure tackler and a punishing hitter.
Baker is a three sport athlete. Once he started to concentrate on one sport, he very well could grow into a linebacker. He has a 300-pound bench right now.
I have been asked about his speed, but I don't have a time. All I know is what I see and I have not seen anyone run away from him.
Baker is a hard worker, smart, great kid and one heckuva football player.
83. ** David Peary
6-5 250 DT/OL Lancaster
Peary is a work in progress but one with some very intriguing physical tools. He is a well put-together 250 pounds and could fill out into the 280-300 pound range.
He runs a 5.0-second 40, but I would like to get a 10-yard time on him or at least be able to measure the torque when he comes off the ball. The surge Peary produces is something to see. Peary is going to continue to play football for a good many years the way he drives into offensive linemen and consistently gets into the backfield or a stalemate like he does in high school.
Peary did not play any offense on the tape I have but he could ultimately end up on offense. He is a natural big body and moves well in general.
He needs some time in the weight room, but a team with the depth to let Peary sit, learn and fill out could find a real gem in about three years.
84. ** Steve Slade
6-0 200 S Youngstown Rayen
Slade started 10 games at nose tackle last year at 6-0, 200 pounds in Youngstown, the heart of high school football in Ohio. He started another 10 games at outside linebacker, another position he is not suited for.
Slade is as tough as the steel that is forged in that part of the state of Ohio. He doesn't just hit, he runs through ball carriers. Slade is one of those players that possess the uncanny ability to find the ball. If it is on the ground, Steve Slade is odds on to pick it up.
Slade is not playing nose tackle and outside linebacker because he lacks the speed to play safety. He is plenty fast enough to be an outstanding strong safety in college.
He is a ferocious hitter and intense competitor.
85. * Rocco Pentello
6-1 195 S/QB Westerville South
Everyone that offers an opinion about Rocco Pentello says he is a great athlete that will be a college player but not at quarterback. I am not convinced after taking a good look at him on the film his dad, Westerville South head coach Rocky Pentello, sent me.
I saw Northwestern quarterback Brett Basanez this year a number of times as well as Iowa quarterback Drew Tate. Pentello is about the same size but he is as good and is a better athlete.
Basanez and Tate are Big Ten quarterbacks and Pentello could play quarterback on the Division I level. He is very smart, which is common with kids that have dads that are coaches. He is a very accurate passer and has the quickest release of any of the quarterbacks in this class. As a junior, Pentello completed 106 of 170 passes for 1,700 yards.
Also, he really can hurt a defense with his ability to make plays with his feet. If he is not a Division I quarterback he is surely a Division I defensive back.
86. * Mark Wooldridge
5-10 190 TB/DB Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit
If quickness could be bottled, Wooldridge would be a millionaire.
After running behind top offensive lineman Mark Schepis, Wooldridge has given defenses fits since he was a freshman. I would hate to play against Wooldridge. He is a perpetual motion machine. Once cornered he starts twisting and ducking to do whatever he can to get away. He is very difficult to get a clean shot on since he is all knees, elbows and pads. He has the balance of a cat and the determination of a pit bull.
I have always heard about Wooldridge as a back but he may be a better college defensive back because some may decide he is too small to be a running back. However, he is not too small to be a defensive back. Walsh Jesuit head coach Gerry Rardin included some tape of Wooldridge playing as a defensive back, and judging by that, he would have made this list as a defensive back. As a junior, Wooldridge carried 166 times for 934 yards and five touchdowns.
Wooldridge ran a 4.38-second time in the 40 at the U.S. Army junior combine in January and benched 185 pounds 19 times.
87. * Charles Babb
6-0 185 QB/S Alliance
For so many schools, the most important attributes in a quarterback are height and a big arm. For those that consider those as extras, get to Alliance as quickly as possible. Charles Babb is the quarterback for your program.
Babb is a brutally efficient and effective quarterback. If quarterback skills are the most important thing, then Babb does not have to take a backseat to anyone in this class. He has great vision and sees the entire field. He makes great decisions and is the most accurate passer in the class with the best touchdown to interception ratio.
Babb moves around really well hurting defenses with his feet. He is not going to throw 80-yard spirals but he will move the offense 80 yards and not turn the ball over. He is a very effective runner.
The only thing Charles Babb is going to have to be taught is how to play quarterback to protect himself better. He has difficulty running out of bounds.
Babb threw for 5,169 yards through his junior year and 53 touchdowns. As a junior, he completed 83 of 179 passes for 1,403 yards with 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
He might be a good enough athlete to rate scholarship offers as a defensive back.
88. * Joshua Anderson
5-10 175 CB/TB Columbus Marion-Franklin
Joshua Anderson better have good insurance. No player in Ohio broke more ankles than Anderson did last year.
There is a wealth of quick kids in Ohio in the class of 2007 and Anderson may be the quickest.
On one particular run on his tape, the camera is right on Anderson as he comes left on counter. A linebacker runs through and Anderson's cut is so fast the cameraman loses him.
Anderson did not play any defense last year since Marion-Franklin platooned, but he will play defense this fall.
He probably won't have the size to be a running back on the next level but he should be just fine at cornerback. His lightning fast feet and ability to change direction on a dime bode well at that position.
Anderson showed some toughness, too, as he was a willing blocker when called on.
89. * Michael Grubenhoff
6-3 220 Athlete Delphos St. John's
Grubenhoff is an impressive physical specimen. He plays middle linebacker but he is so long and well put together that he could grow into a defensive end.
Grubenhoff will have to get to camps to show his athletic ability. It is common for smaller school players to get dismissed because of level of competition, so they get pushed to the back of the pack. Grubenhoff is one that could push himself back into the recruiting spotlight with a good camp showing.
He has long arms and just looks like a pass rusher. He runs well and was reported a 4.7-4.8-40 , which tells me he has not really been on a stopwatch. But he looks like he will run at least that.
90. * Brian Peters
6-4 185 S Pickerington Central
I was introduced to Brian Peters in violent fashion. On the tape North head coach Jay Sharrett sent, the very first play by Peters is one of the hits of the year. The receiver looks like he was pole-axed. He had seven interceptions as a junior.
I watched the rest of the highlights of Peters and the entire section on Peters was one big hit in this class is full of big hitters. Peters is not as well known as some of the others, but he would certainly make a top 10 list of the biggest hitters in this class.
Peters is a legitimate 6-4, but he probably won't fill out into a linebacker. He is quite lean and everyone wants big safeties, so that could pose a problem.
With the spectacular Terence White drawing recruiters to Pickerington this fall, Peters will have the opportunity to show his stuff. If he runs well this summer, he should have a nice selection of schools to choose from.
Peters also plays wide receiver, but he has a defensive player's mentality.
91. * Jamarro Spikes
5-11 175 TB Ashtabula Lakeside
Spikes is one of the better backs in Ohio and one of the most intriguing because he is probably not done growing. Most high school backs have not filled out completely but he is going to be able to add more than the usual 10-20 pounds.
Spikes was a wispy little 5-8 or so and about 155 when I first saw him. He is now 5-11, 175 pounds according to Lakeside head coach Jay Corlew but still looks like he is going to get another inch or two taller and at least 20 pounds heavier. He just doesn't look as filled out as most high school backs his age.
Spikes is a no nonsense runner. He is going to get in the hole and hit it hard. He is deadly efficient runner but does not show the highlight reel moves. If such records were kept, Jamarro Spikes would be No. 1 in the class with the number of tacklers that only got one arm on him. He uses his off arm to great effect stiff arming tacklers and slapping hands away. He has great vision and is an excellent receiver out of the backfield.
Spikes is definitely not a finished product. It is going to be interesting to see him in about three years.
92. * Ryan Curry
5-10 195 RB/DB Youngstown Ursuline
There is no reported 40-time on Curry but there were only four players that looked faster than everyone on the field on tape: Brandon Saine, Devon Torrence, Terrence White and Curry.
Curry ran away from so many potential tacklers last year. I held my breath every time I saw the ball go into his hands. His runs look like kickoff returns. He picks a hole and runs as fast as he can until someone knocks him down. On every play, something spectacular happened with Curry, whether it was an impressive turn of speed or a high impact collision.
Curry is utterly fearless. That style might not transfer to the next level well as a running back but it would serve him well as a safety. He has such big play potential that someone could take that speed and try turning him into a receiver.
He had over 900 yards rushing last year and averaging eight yards per carry.
93. * Lewis Buzzard
6-7 215 TE Columbus Franklin Heights
The measurables line says it all. Buzzard is a high school quarterback that will play tight end this fall, which is sure to be his college position. Obviously, he is very raw but there has been a change at the helm at Franklin Heights. The coaching staff has the experience with head coach Eric Gillespie and assistant coach Jeremy Beckham, who have been around successful programs and big time athletes. They will get Buzzard prepared.
With the double slot triple option offense Franklin Heights ran last year, there was no need of a tight end.
Buzzard is a good basketball player, which gives an indication of what kind of athlete he is.
94. * Garrett Celek
6-5 230 OT Cincinnati LaSalle
It is obvious Celek is not a finished product. He needs some serious time in the weightroom before he is going to help any college team but the raw materials are there.
Celek is a left tackle in high school. That is likely where he plays in college, in time. He is very athletic and he fights hard on the line. LaSalle plays against some real heavyweights and Celek is out there against players bigger than him more often than not.
Celek never asked for any quarter and never offered any despite the fact that he is more tight end-sized. He might not help any program his first year out of high school, but a program that has the depth to let him spend more time in the weightroom than on the practice field could reap the rewards in time.
95. * Nathan Toney
6-5 ½ 265 OL West Chester Lakota West
Nathan Toney has a lot in common with a former Lakota lineman Steve Rehring, now at Ohio State. Both are really big kids, very physical and have a nasty streak. What they don't have in common may be in Toney's best interest.
Toney is not as tall as Rehring. I never thought Rehring would be a tackle, though it looked like he was going to prove me wrong early on. But I could not get my head around a player as tall as Rehring, who is 6-8 or 6-9, standing right in front of my quarterback at guard.
Toney plays tackle in high school, but he is just right to play guard. He looks so much bigger than 265 and he could be a real specimen when he fills out. He moves pretty well and he will keep his athleticism as he adds the weight with his frame.
96. * Corey Pigg
6-3 308 OG Middletown
Pigg is a natural wide body that plays with a real passion. Motor is important with defensive players, but offensive players need it too, especially lineman. Pigg plays hard all the time.
He has good lower body strength with a 405-pound squat and a 425-pound deadlift. Middletown head coach Ron Johnson wants to get his weight down this year and play under 300 pounds. That is in the best interest of Corey Pigg's future and the best interest of the Middletown spread offense.
Pigg plays guard in high school and will be a guard or center in college. Because of the offense he plays in and his natural determination, Pigg is a very good pass blocker for a high school guard.
97. * Myshan Veasley-Pettis
5-9 165 CB/WR Toledo Rogers
Veasley-Pettis is one of the more dynamic players in the state of Ohio this year. He has 10 interceptions so far in his high school career but his size may dictate playing on defense. Veasley-Pettis is a special player is on offense and just makes things happen out there. He has great hands and outstanding body control. He adjusts to badly thrown balls and is fearless about going over the middle despite his stature.
Veasley-Pettis reminds me a great deal of recent Mr. Football award winner and former Ohio State receiver Bam Childress. If he were just a little bigger, Veasley-Pitts would move up this list about twenty spots.
98. **** Terrence White
6-1 180 WR/CB Pickerington Central
There is not a lot to say about Terrence White right now. He blew out a knee preseason and missed the entire 2005 season. When healthy, he may be the next fastest football player in the state to Brandon Saine.
White is an electrifying, big-play playmaker that can change the game with one touch of the ball. His rehab went well and played basketball this season, so he should be fine.
I will put him in here at No. 97 because of the missed season due to injury. Pay attention to the fact that I rate him a four-star player. That is an indication of what kind of talent White has. He is at least a four-star player and maybe a five-star at full health. White needs to be in the top 100.
He is the son of former Buckeye Terry White.
99. **** Dante Jackson
6-4 195 WR/S Greenfield-McClain
At first, I just assumed Dante Jackson was solely a basketball player. I had never heard of him even playing football. He did not play as a sophomore, the year when most prospects start to emerge.
Last fall, Jackson started talking about maybe playing football in college. I decided to look into it and I was surprised at what I saw.
I have never seen Jackson play basketball, but I have a hard time believing he is a better basketball player than he is a football player. Jackson played both receiver and safety as a junior and was one of the most impressive players I saw on tape. It is safe to assume a basketball player is going to shy away from contact but Dante Jackson may be the hardest hitter in the state.
On his tape, Jackson comes up from his safety position and I stopped counting the number of ball carriers that did not get up field.
He doesn't run out of bounds as a receiver and he has great ball skills and great hands. He has solid receiver skills and doesn't just running fade routes. Jackson knows how to play the game.
First, he has to decide whether to be a football player or basketball player. If he decides on football and runs well at camps this summer, he will be able to write his own ticket on the football field. Judging from his track times, it looks like he could.
Last year at the state meet, he ran 14.61 110-meter hurdles finishing fourth and 38.57 300-meter hurdles finishing third.
I continue to hear Jackson will choose basketball. If he makes a decision that football will be his first sport in college, he is a top 40 player at least, and likely higher.
100. *** Jerome Peterson
6-0 180 TB Springfield South
Peterson had some grade issues last year but showed he was willing to work to get back on the football field. It looks like he will make the grade, so he is included on this list.
At one point, Peterson was a likely top-20 player. With the depth of this class and so much time off, he may need some time to get back up that high but the talent is there.
Peterson is a very good back that can run between the tackles and is very hard to get off his feet. Some think he could be an even better defensive back. Good luck to Jerome Peterson. I hope I have the opportunity to re-evaluate him at the end of the year.
101. *** J'Keem Waters
6-0 225 FB Canton South
There are probably those that would say Waters does not belong on this list. He is having a number of off the field problems that are keeping him away from football.
He is on this list for two reasons. One, he is the best blocking full back I have seen in the state of Ohio since former Canton McKinley and Ohio State star Jamar Martin. He is devastating and a good athlete. The other reason he is on this list is there is still hope. Waters has a year for the light to come on. I don't want to quit on a kid until the last possible moment. We are talking about 16 and 17 year old kids here. Maybe if he sees his name in this top 100 he will think he still has a shot.
Good luck to J'Keem Waters.
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