In a class known for outstanding linebacker prospects Lakewood St. Edward junior Justin Staples could be the best of the bunch. Staples, 6' 3" and 210 pounds, established himself as a rising star with a fine junior season. He finished the year with 59 tackles and had 4 sacks in helping lead St. Ed's to a 9-2 campaign.
"We had a disappointing year really," Staples explained. "I think we should have been a lot better. We just didn't get it done for whatever reason. Losing in the playoffs was a big disappointment, especially for our seniors.'
"For me personally I had a very good season, but I'm more concerned with winning a state title really. I think my strengths are my speed and I'm able to play physical. I always want to be fast to the football."
Staples was invited to participate in the U.S. Army All-American combine but declined to participate in the event.
"I would have loved to have gone to San Antonio for that combine," he explained. "I play on the basketball team and I just wouldn't feel right leaving my team in the middle of the season. We're undefeated and I owe it to my teammates to be with them."
Although a fine basketball player Staples knows that football will be the sport he plays in college. He already is drawing attention from the football recruiters.
"I've been contacted by Virginia, Michigan, Ohio State and North Carolina," Staples said. "I don't really have a favorite but I'm impressed with Ohio State and Michigan a lot. Coach Loeffler of Michigan text messages me all the time. I'm hearing from Tim Beckman at Ohio State. I've also talked with Jim Tressel a couple times. I was at the Minnesota and Michigan games. I like coach Tressel a lot. He's a good man. The atmosphere at the Michigan game was unbelievable. I want to play in games like that some day. I feel very comfortable at Ohio State. My teammate Nate Oliver will be there next year and he and I get along great. I'd love to play alongside Nate again."
Staples, who ran a 4.65 forty at his school, is being recruited as an outside linebacker. He knows he needs to continue to work at getting better all the time.
"Right now I don't have a lot of time to workout because of basketball," he noted. "Once basketball is over I'm going to spend more time on speed and strength training. I have a personal trainer and I'm looking to be much faster next year. I'd also like to play at around 225 pounds by the start of the season."
Staples will be one of the highest rated prospects in Ohio for 2007. He will be playing for a new coach next season as veteran coach John Gibbons was fired recently. Look for the Eagles to be one of the top teams in Ohio in 2007.