EDITOR'S NOTE – Today we continue our 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 13th installment with a look at the player ranked No. 2 in the state.
2. ***** Eugene Clifford
6-2 190 S Cincinnati Colerain
A couple of years ago I compared Hamilton safety Adam Myers-White to Kenny Easley.
I remember how Kenny Easley came into Ohio Stadium for a game with his UCLA Bruin squad back in the late 70's and served notice that he was on his way to being one of the college games all-time greats.
I wish I had saved that analogy because that is what I see with Clifford.
Easley looked like a linebacker instead of a safety and that is the case with Clifford. He has a long lean build and could fill out into a linebacker if that is where he is needed. Or, he could stay lean and remain at safety, which is what I think will ultimately happen.
We have seen the NFL start to put more value on safeties in the last few years with all the spread offenses forcing safeties into man coverage but they still need to be able to come up to play the run. It used to be rare for safeties to get drafted in the first round but we have seen Roy Williams, Ed Reed, Sean Taylor and Troy Polamalu in recent years and they all have been integral to their team's success. This is the kind of athlete that ends up continuing that run of first round safeties.
Clifford is one of those players that just leap out from the game film. He has a complete game as he is equally at home in coverage or at the line of scrimmage.
Something that is never discussed is Clifford as a receiver since Colerain so rarely throws the ball. If I were asked who the best wide receiver prospect in Ohio this year is, don't be surprised if I say Eugene Clifford. If I were a college coach, I would be salivating at the prospect of getting this special athlete in a position where he can touch the ball regularly.
I would tell any college coach to ask Colerain head coach Kerry Coombs for a tape of the Ft. Thomas (Ky.) Highlands game from last season. A punt return he makes in that game is all the evidence needed to make a case for Clifford at wide receiver.
Michigan and Ohio State were among the colleges to extend Clifford an early offer.
Update: Clifford is starting to rack up the college offers, but says he has no favorite.
"I'm still really undecided," Clifford said. "I haven't even been thinking about it yet. I plan to take all my official visits this fall and see what happens then. Right now I'm just seeing who all offers me."
Clifford offer list includes Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State, Boston College, Cincinnati and Illinois. He also has offers from Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Miami (Ohio), Purdue and West Virginia.
His first scholarship offer came from the Wolverines the summer before his junior year.
"I like their tradition a lot," Clifford said. "I went to a game there last year and loved the atmosphere. I love how many people go there and how huge the stadium is. The fans they have are great.
"Ohio State is a lot like Michigan. They have great fans too and I love their rivalry. I root for both teams when they play each other and it's usually a great game. They are a winning team every year."
Clifford finished his junior season with 147 total tackles and six interceptions. He benches 300 pounds, squats 500 and has a 33-inch vertical jump. He also plays basketball and averages 12 points per game, but plans to focus on football in college.
Clifford reports a 2.6 GPA and will be taking the ACT on June 10.
Bucknuts subscribers can click the link below for Clifford's bio page in the Scout.com database. It contains multiple video links:
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