20. Justin Staples – Lakewood St. Edward – SLB
Bob Lichtenfels: This talented athlete just keeps getting better each year. Two years ago Joe Thomas told me to keep an eye on Staples because he was going to be a good one and he was right. I actually had a few coaches tell me that when all is said and done he may be one of the best to ever come out of St. Edward and that is saying a lot. He is a talented pass rusher who will likely be a very good outside linebacker in college.
Greg Powers: Like Rippy, Staples is only beginning to realize his potential. He has ideal size and wingspan. He is probably athletic enough to play some safety, but he could be a freak at outside linebacker after he gets entrenched in to a solid weight-conditioning program. With his intangibles he could be scary good in a couple of years. He compiled 59 tackles as a junior while playing for a very competitive defense that hosted many other division one level type of players.
Bill Greene: Justin is a natural outside linebacker with great quickness and agility. His athletic ability is evident on the basketball court. Staples is a very nice kid with a strong desire to be a great player. He comes from one of the top programs in Ohio. I like his potential as well as any linebacker in Ohio. Staples has only scratched the surface of how good he can be. There is a lot of upside to getting Justin and I see him playing college football in the Big-10, possibly Michigan State, where his basketball teammate Delvon Roe will be attending.
Dave Berk: I was talking with a current college defensive back that played at Lakewood St. Edward a few years ago. He asked if I'd seen Justin Staples because he was the "real deal" and going to be a major prospect. Then I got the chance to watch Staples perform and came away knowing here is a "Big Time" player getting ready to hit the scene. When we look back we all may be asking how we had him at number 20. Physical size to go with burst makes him a natural future all-conference outside backer.
19. B.J. Machen – Hilliard Darby – WLB
Bob: Is a kid I have been talking about all year long and I think he is a good one. This whole group of players that we are talking about here are good enough , that in some years they could be the top five players in the state and their not far off this year. Machen is a tackling machine. He has great lateral movement and is like a heat seeking missile. I like backers who finish tackles and play with bad intentions, that is Machen. The kid is very cerebral, a trait that his father has instilled in him. Someone is getting a winner here.
Greg: I found out about B.J. Machen when Lichtenfels hit me up with his highlights after discovering early this year. He told me that he had found a real hidden gem, and it only took a few minutes scouting his film to realize that he was spot on. This kid plays with bad intentions, and will flat out lay the boom when laying a hit on the ball carrier. He shoots the gaps well and shows nice instinctual fluidness when he moves. He may not have ideal size, but these intangibles make him worth a chance.
Bill: Yet ANOTHER great LB prospect in Ohio, and this one is a flat out tackling machine. Offers from West Virginia, Nebraska, Pitt, and others. Machen will probably not get an Ohio State offer but someday might be a looked at as a player that should have. Machen takes great pursuit angles and doesn't miss when he gets there. He gets it done in the classroom too and that also makes him a desirable recruit. He doesn't get the publicity of Brandon Beachum or Justin Staples, but he's just as good a football player. I expect to see Machen succeed at the next level.
Dave: When I last spoke with Hilliard Darby head coach Paul Jenne about one of his seniors in the 07 class he was quick to point out Machen as being a major prospect. After watching film and talking with a few other coaches I fully understand what all the fuss is about. Shows great instincts and an explosive burst.
18. Steve Gardiner – Dublin Coffman – WLB
Bob: Another great linebacker and what a bad year for the Buckeyes to have limited scholarships, because I have a sneaking suspicion that if they had 25 Gardiner and Machen would be Buckeyes. Gardiner plays the position as well as anyone, but he is athletic and fast enough that some talk about him being a safety and it would not surprise me to see him there. Academics are very important to Gardiner and his family, so expect them to play a huge role in his decision.
Greg: Yet another linebacker who does not have the ideal size that many high profile schools are looking for in a middle linebacker, but does everything very well. He is the most complete linebacker in the Ohio class form wise and plays the game the old fashion way. He hustles and makes nice form tackles. He is where he supposed to be on a consistent basis and does not take himself out of plays. He could make the move to safety on the next level, but I think he has what it takes to hold on to a spot at linebacker.
Bill: Here we go again, another excellent linebacker prospect. Gardiner is another kid that Ohio State would love to find room for, and still might. My favorite part of Gardiner's game is his great speed. He can get to the football in a hurry. Gardiner is fundamentally solid and an offer list that includes West Virginia, Pitt, Oklahoma State and many others shows that the college recruiters agree. A D-I college coach told me "Gardiner plays the game the way it should be played." I couldn't agree more.
Dave: When I tell people that Steve Gardiner doesn't get the respect he deserves many scratch their heads. They look at him standing there waiting to take part in a drill not expecting what's about to happen. Then on cue Steve goes out and pops a 4.4 40-time or makes a break on a play. Gardiner is going to be a player for someone and I fully expect him to captain his team at the next level. Great kid, great player.
17. D.J. Woods – Strongsville – WR
Bob: I remember talking with D.J.'s father Derrick in the fall and he was just hopeful that his son would have a chance to play major college football. Twenty plus offers later father and son are both amazed at what has transpired over the last ten months or so. It couldn't happen to nicer people as they have handled it with class and humility. Woods impressed me greatly at our Pittsburgh combine, what a great athlete. Some say receiver, some say corner, I say who cares because this is a kid you just want on your roster.
Greg: I really like what I have seen out of D.J. Woods so far. He does not explode out at you on film initially, but after further evaluation of him in person and then going back in to the film room to watch him again, I am even more impressed. He is a fluid guy who is fast as they come in and out of his breaks. I was worried about his physicality when he was playing defensive back, but what he lacks in size he more than makes up it up with his heart, technique, and raw skills.
Bill: D. J. Woods- I hung the nickname "Man on Fire" on Woods after he tore apart the Elite Skills camp in Cleveland. Scholarship offers started pouring in immediately after the camp and it hasn't slowed down yet. Ohio State is recruiting him as a cornerback but I could see "Fire" playing wideout at the next level. He has great hip turn and excellent recovery speed. He has offers from all across the country and it's too soon to predict where "Fire" ends up, but he'll be playing in a top program for sure. A wonderful person, who has handled his success very well.
Dave: If this was a different year you'd be hearing and seeing a number in single digits next to D.J. Woods name. After watching him at a Scout.com combine and Ohio State senior camp I feel number 17 may be way too low. In fact one BCS wide receiver coach said he'd take Woods over any other receiver in Ohio after having him in camp. That alone tells me a lot because this coach has had some very good receivers over the years. Can play on both sides of the ball and excel.
16. Brandon Beachum –Youngstown Mooney – RB
Bob: Brandon Beachum – Another great kid who gets the proper guidance from his father Lock. Some question his size and whether he can be a linebacker at the next level, but you cannot question his desire. At our Pittsburgh combine Beachum played running back and looked very good at it. He is a prototypical Big Ten power back. He is also another prospect who values academics very highly. He will be an asset to whatever program he chooses. I love his willingness to compete. There is no prima dona in this kid.
Greg: If there were a combine at 12:00am tomorrow morning in Youngstown in a torrential downpour, Brandon Beachum would be the first player lining up to compete at the event. That is what type of player he is. He is a warrior, and he plays like it on the field. He could be a linebacker on the next level, but why not leave him at the position to make plays on the offensive side of the ball where he has thrived his entire career. People worry about his top end speed, but all I need to do is watch his film to know what he brings to the table. I love big physical running backs, and Beachum fits that mold perfectly.
Bill: This is another big-time linebacker but I suspect he will be carrying the football in college. Brandon is also a fine young man and he comes from a wonderful family. He fit in like a glove at Youngstown Cardinal Mooney. Brandon is a multi-talented athlete that has only scratched the surface of his talent. He will succeed at the next level because NOBODY will out-work him. He went to every camp and combine in the Mid-West this spring. He loves to compete against the best. Brandon had to have been disappointed at not receiving an offer at Ohio State's senior camp. The next day he went to Penn State's camp, a place where he already had an offer, and put on a show. He could have stayed home and felt sorry for himself, but that's not Brandon Beachum. You win championships with kids like Brandon.
Dave: If Brandon Beachum was an inch or two taller he'd be placed on the defensive side of the ball as a major-major linebacker prospect. But at 220-pounds at his height I fully expect a college coach to place him at running back giving them a major-major "Big" back that can take a pounding of 25+ carries a game. Hard working physical athlete with great upside.