EDITOR'S NOTE – Today we are continuing 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. Here is the fourth installment with players ranked No. 11-20.
11. ***** Morgan Williams
5-11 190 TB Canton McKinley
Ohio High contributor Bill Greene first told me about Morgan Williams when Williams was in the eighth grade. McKinley head coach Brian Cross is likely the only person who has seen Williams more.
Morgan Williams is another great running back from Canton McKinley, according to Green. He led the Bulldogs to an undefeated regular season in 2005 rushing for over 2,400 yards and scoring 27 touchdowns earning All-Ohio honors.
He is a prototypical one-cut slasher at tailback. Williams has great feet and great vision to find the seam in the defense. Williams doesn't have sprinter speed but he rarely gets caught from behind. He needs to prove he can catch the football and be an effective blocker.
Williams could also project as a fine defensive back but I feel his future is on the offensive side of the ball. He plays against the top competition in the state week in and week out and always shows well. Williams never has an off night and has great work ethic and determination. He has the frame to fill out to 215 pounds and not lose any speed.
He took over for Ryan Brinson and the Bulldog running game never missed a beat. He will probably find the going tougher in 2006 as his entire offensive line has graduated.
Williams is being recruited by most of the Big Ten schools as well as most of the top programs in the Midwest but has not visited many schools because of his basketball commitment. As a result, he needs to have a great summer camp season to get offers from the top programs.
12. ***** Hosea Simpson
5-9 210 TB Cincinnati Winton Woods
Early on, this class showed well at running back. The cast of characters has changed over time, except for Hosea Simpson. He has been around the entire time, but I see lists of top running backs all the time and Simpson's name is never on it.
Brandon Saine's tape really put him on the top of the heap. Until he separated himself from the rest of this class, I could make a strong argument for Simpson being the best in the class. As a junior, Simpson tallied 1,675 yards and scored 25 touchdowns.
When I first saw tape of Simpson, I only had one concern. Would he outgrow the position? He was listed at 225 at the time. He played some as a fullback, and still does, but he has brought his weight down. I would have played Simpson as a tailback, regardless, but I think the weight loss ends the argument. It gave him a little more speed, not that his speed was questionable before, but he is still the same load he was at 225.
This kid is an "assassin" type back, meaning he is deadly efficient. Simpson has no wasted motion doing exactly what he needs to do to get down the field. I have seen him leave potential tacklers trying to figure out which way he went and I have seen him leave potential tacklers trying to figure out which way is up. He is a natural born runner that runs with great power. Simpson has more pancakes than most of the top linemen. He has balance and very quick feet and uses his blockers very well. Simpson is an excellent pass receiver out of the backfield as well and has superb vision and acceleration.
Calling Simpson a power back is selling him short. This is, without question, the most underrated player in the class. Simpson is a back that is worth offers from the big four in the Midwest: Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame and Penn State.
13. ***** Kyle Hubbard
6-4 225 WR/TE Lakewood St. Edward
Hubbard stepped into the starting lineup in 2005 for the first time and did he ever make a splash.
In the state semifinal, where the outstanding St. Edward program is making a habit of reaching under John Gibbons, Hubbard made his statement as a top recruit in this class. He ran a skinny post late in the first half and was absolutely hammered to the ground by a safety that had a good run at him. He caught the ball and held onto it. I thought this kind of contact would end his afternoon but it didn't. Hubbard got up showing the effect of the play but never looked to the sidelines.
Later on, he made a couple of catches that most kids with his limited experience would not make. On one catch, he took a wide pass and showed great athleticism to keep his feet in bounds. On another, he came back to his quarterback, who was running for his life, got in his quarterback's line of sight, caught the ball and managed to keep his feet in bounds. It is these little things that show me he has a lot of football sense.
Hubbard has only played football for two years. He is very athletic and has the best hands. If he can reach it he will catch it. Considering how little he has played, there is no limit to what he is capable of. He played wide receiver but I think he grows into a tight end. There is a great frame on this kid.
Hubbard has never run a 40 and he has never been to a camp but this ranking will be too low if he runs well this summer.
He is an outstanding basketball player and will be an easy qualifier.
14. ***** David Arnold
6-0 185 S/WR Copley
When I first saw David Arnold, I thought he would be a safety at the next level because of his attraction to high speed collisions. But the more I look at tape, I think he could be as good or better at receiver.
I recently learned Arnold had been a running back until Delone Carter transferred into Copley as a junior, so last year was just his first ever as a receiver. He is an explosive leaper and has great hands but the only thing that keeps him from being a great receiver is he seems to have a defensive player's mindset. He takes as much pleasure from laying someone out (and he had quite a number of those to celebrate) as he does making an interception.
Arnold had seven interceptions as a junior, including one that was as incredible a catch as I have ever seen. He fell and did not have time to get back up to make a play on the ball, so he just put his feet under him and exploded up and back to make the interception.
Arnold, who has been clocked at 4.41 in the 40, led the team in tackles last season and had over 20 receptions for more than 500 yards and three touchdowns.
Cornerback is another possibility for Arnold. He had played cornerback until his sophmore year, meaning he has just two years as a safety.
His nasty, on-the-field demeanor is the polar opposite of his off-the-field demeanor. This is one of the classiest kids it has been my pleasure to speak to in my years of evaluating players.
Arnold will play his senior year as a 17 year old. His dad is 6-4 and one of his grandfathers is 6-8, so the chances he gets bigger are quite good.
He is worth a scholarship just to run back kicks. He is already qualified, carrying a 3.0 GPA.
He was born in Ann Arbor and has family ties to Michigan but was raised in Ohio. Ohio State and Notre Dame are very involved in the recruiting process. They both stand as good of a chance at landing this outstanding young man as Michigan does.
15. ***** Donnie Evege
5-11 185 CB Huber Heights Wayne
I have known about Donnie Evege since he was a freshman. I was talking with former Xenia star offensive lineman Ben Person, now a guard at Ohio State, and he told me about him back then. Person said he was the fastest and quickest kid he had ever seen and he was the most highly motivated kid and the hardest worker he had been around. That is a big statement from a high school senior talking about a ninth grader.
I have learned for myself that all those things are true.
Evege is an exceptionally gifted athlete but one that is extremely motivated to get better. Getting better and being the best he can be seems to be at the core of Donnie Evege. He is the kid you have to tell to take time off or to get off the field or to get out of the weightroom.
This is a kid that is going to run low 4.4's straight out of his warm-up and I think he can run 4.3. He has the hips and feet to be a great cornerback in college yet has the attitude to be a great safety and takes great pleasure in making a hit. Evege would like a shot at running back and is likely to get the opportunity this fall to show he can be a running back at the next level.
Evege is a coach's dream come true. I spoke to him right after signing day and the kid was beaming with pride because the day before he had been named to the National Honor Society. This is a kid that ends up as class President, and a captain on any team he competes on, even if he is never a starter, because he is such a positive upbeat kid.
Evege has already received an offer from Ohio State. I think Notre Dame is the one school that could talk this special young man out of a verbal to the Buckeyes. He also has offers from Purdue and Miami (Ohio)
16. ***** Mitchell Evans
6-3 200 QB West Milton Milton-Union
Mitchell Evans is the most dynamic of this outstanding set of quarterbacks in Ohio this year. Last year, I overrated the Ohio quarterback class early on, but there is no mistaking this lot. All three should be getting national attention.
The athletic quarterback is what everyone is looking for now and will be in the foreseeable future. Evans is clearly the most athletic of the top quarterbacks in this class. He is as dangerous with his feet as he is with his arm. If that is what a school is looking for, Evans would be their number one in this class.
He plays safety on defense and is so good he could get offers at that position if he were not such a great looking quarterback. As a junior, Evans threw for 1,920 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also rushed for five scores and also had five interceptions on defense.
Evans' name came up to me as a safety prospect and I was baffled as to why anyone would not think of him as a quarterback first after seeing him play.
I would say Evans has the highest football I.Q. of the three. He puts so much pressure on the defense. He can threaten the line of scrimmage so the linebacker plays him and he can throw over him. He'll pump fake the safety to create room to throw the post. Evans is in complete control out there.
Both Belton and Chris Smith (No. 18) have stronger arms but I want to be clear about the fact that this kid has arm to spare. Evans has great mechanics.
Level of competition is going to be the question mark with Evans playing in Division IV. He should answer that question this summer at camps.
Four years ago, Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn came out of nowhere to earn offers from Ohio State, Michigan and Tennessee as well as Notre Dame. Evans could do the same thing this year.
17. ***** Anthony "Dewey" Elliot
6-0 235 LB Fairfield
I usually ask coaches about players they went against that impressed them. Typically, there is a moment of hesitation as the coach thinks it over but it only took Middletown head coach Ron Johnson about a nanosecond to mention "Dewey" Elliot.
I had never heard of Elliot until that moment and don't know how this super prospect got under my radar for this length of time. Elliot is the real deal.
He is a high school middle linebacker that could play inside or outside. He has such instincts that it is almost as if he is able to hear the play call in the opponent's huddle. Elliot is a very physical kid and does not need a clean run at the ball carrier to make a play. He takes on blockers and gets off of them like a player with a lot more experience but has the speed to avoid blockers most of the time. Once he finds the ball carrier, there is going to be a major collision. Elliot really brings it coming in low and hard. He is a great tackler as well as a big hitter. So often the big hitters are so used to knocking people down that they forget to wrap. Not Elliot. His speed is the reason he could play any of the linebacker spots.
Since Elliot is so physical and has good size, he may be best suited to play inside. He seems most comfortable in the middle and a middle linebacker that can run like this is a huge advantage. He has a great frame but so many kids of this size outgrow the position. Elliot could add 15-20 pounds and stay at linebacker.
Elliot has an early offer from Oklahoma and favors the Sooners and Buckeyes but Penn State is still in this.
He has a reported 4.5-second 40 to go with a 315-pound bench press and a 500-pound squat.
18. **** Andrew Dailey
6-3 215 LB/S Massillon Washington
Ohio High contributor Bill Greene saw more of Andrew Dailey last season than I did. Here is his take this outstanding prospect:
Andrew Dailey is a player that is going to continue to get better as each year passes by. He has a great work ethic and is driven to be a successful player.
Dailey played safety as a junior, earning All-Ohio honors. He has great size and has surprising speed for a player his size. Dailey has been hand timed at 4.5 in the 40. He is also a great kick blocker and a decent wideout, although his future is as a defensive player. Dailey will probably play linebacker at the next level and might play there next year for Massillon. I've seen him cover wide receivers in space and do really well. This will be a huge benefit if he does play linebacker in college.
If he does move to linebacker for his senior season, look for him to be involved in stopping the running game as he is a very sure tackler. He should flourish by playing closer to the line of scrimmage.
Dailey is also a great blitzer coming off the edge. He made the play of the game in the Division I state title game stripping St. Xavier's Darius Ashley of the football and returning it 80 yards for a score. Dailey also had a huge sack against Lakewood St. Edward that saved the state semifinal game for Massillon. Overall, Dailey had 81 tackles as a junior. He also had an interception to go with six catches on offense.
He is being recruited by most schools in the Big Ten and the Midwest but favors Notre Dame and Ohio State at this time. He has been offered by Akron.
Dailey plays in a great program under Tom Stacy and he does well in the classroom. He is good friends and summer baseball teammate with Canton South's Devon Torrence and also plays on the Tiger basketball team that went 18-2.
Dailey is going to get bigger, stronger and faster and should have a great senior season for Massillon. It's easy to see why recruiters are excited about Dailey.
19. **** Chris Smith
6-1 220 QB South Point
I remember the first time I ever heard the name Chris Smith. I was talking to my associate from Scout.com, Bob Lichtenfels, about a few players that were seniors at the time. He was looking at some new film that came through the door earlier that day and all of a sudden Bob says, "Whoa, does this kid ever have a hose." I asked him who he was talking about and he said the player was a sophomore from Ohio. I discovered I had my own Chris Smith DVD but had not looked at it yet. After the phone call, I put the DVD in and I was just as impressed as Bob was.
It is harder to get a good read on arm strength on tape. That is the main reason coaches like to get quarterbacks into camp more than players at any other position. Smith is one of those that comes along that you really don't need to see in person to know how strong his arm is. One of the reasons is some of the DVD was from field level. You get a better perspective from that angle on a tape.
With Smith, the ball gets there in a hurry. Former St. Xavier star and current Ohio State player Rob Schoenhoft is the only quarterback I have seen here in Ohio in recent years with the same caliber arm that Smith possesses and he showed that arm at the Akron combine last spring.
Smith is not a pocket passer. He runs really well, but unlike most quarterbacks, he runs like a fullback once he breaks the pocket. Most quarterbacks, at least the ones that run well, look more like receivers in the open field. As a junior, Smith passed for over 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns, and rushed for nearly 700 yards and six touchdowns.
He could play in either a pro-style offense or a spread because he possesses both the arm strength and the running ability.
Because of the questions about level of competition, the camp and combine circuit will be important but Smith is already aware of that chink in his armor and plans on making a number of appearances at camps and combines this summer.
He has offers from West Virginia, Marshall and Ohio U. He has a list that had changed over time, but Ohio State and Michigan remain constants. USC and Oklahoma were recently asking for tape.
20 **** Chris Givens
6-3 195 S/WR Chillicothe
Chillicothe has quietly gone about sending as many players to Division I schools as any program in central Ohio in recent years.
Givens is the best player to come out of the school in my years of following recruiting since the legendary Chuck Jones about 20 years ago. This is a kid with the complete package of size, speed and skills and I could list him as an athlete.
He says he would rather be a receiver. Considering he has played all over the field on offense, from quarterback to running back to wide receiver, he could develop into something special as a receiver when he settles in and starts getting all his reps there. He shows very quick feet and an explosive turn of speed. Also, Chillicothe has used him on slip screens a good deal.
Against Dublin Scioto, there was one play where this number 7 looked a lot like another number 7, Ted Ginn, Jr. He stepped away from one tackler and the acceleration he showed would have been impressive on a smaller player, let alone one this size.
However, I think Givens is already something special as a safety. He is an outstanding leaper with tremendous ball skills. He is a good tackler as well as a good hitter. Givens really brings it.
This impressive young man comes from a family of educators, so that will be a huge factor in his decision.
At this early stage, Chris has offers from Miami (Ohio) and Cincinnati. Watch out for Miami here. His brother is there and the top notch education to be had there is going to be very appealing to Givens.
He had over 500 receiving yards and five touchdowns last year and averaged 19 points and 13 rebounds a game in basketball.
Here is a link for more information on how to subscribe to Ohio High magazine (subscribe now to get the July football preview edition, due out in mid-June):