When you hear talk of Brandon Maupin, you always hear the word "upside" enter the conversation, but that upside has already started to materialize. The difference in his game from last year was noticeable from about mid-season on. I spoke to players who played against him last year and who also played against him this year, and the voices were unanimous: Brandon was a better player this year. I didn't think we would see his game step up until he got to college.
You couldn't ask for a more perfect DT body. One college coach remarked that
he looks like former Tennessee All-American and Outland Trophy winner John
Henderson as a high school player. He has long arms, and with feet good enough
to run a 4.9, some will think about a move to offensive tackle, but everyone
will give him a shot first at DT. He is considering Boston College, Ohio State,
Pittsburgh, and Tennessee.
7. ***** Dareus Hiley 6-1 175 4.42 ATH Cleveland Glenville
Hiley was off to a slow start because of a hip injury, but he found his stride about mid-season and didn't disappoint. Playing mostly quarterback this year, Hiley completed 57 of 83 passes for 1118 yards and 20 TDs, giving him 58 for his career. He has 35 scholarship offers. A hit in last game of the year left him with a bruised tailbone (the early reports were greatly exaggerated so I wanted to clear that up).
He is the best athlete I have seen in Ohio since Charles Woodson. Every year while watching Ohio players, I see special athletes, but Hiley is in a class by himself. Players like this come along once in a great while. He is a human highlight film. He is cat quick and has an ability to change direction that looks like something straight out of a Hollywood action movie.
I think he really may be better as a receiver, but every school that is high
on his list -- Ohio State, Michigan, Miami and USC -- are recruiting him as a
corner. I like him better at WR (his after the catch skills are something you
need to see to believe), but Dareus needs to be more consistent catching the
ball. His 6-1 size is legit. Bet the farm he ends up in Columbus or Ann Arbor.
8. ***** Shawn Crable 6-6 225 4.5 DE/LB Masillon Washington
I saw Crable in the regional final game against Pickerington, and I finally saw him have the kind of game that is the basis for all the ruckus about him. Even more important than the fact he may be a tweener was the lack of plays made on the field, but he made them in this game. It was a highlight film. He was all over the place, and I only counted 2 plays where an outstanding Pickerington team blocked him successfully. He was so dominant in this game that the announcers started making jokes about it. If he wasn't in on the tackle, the announcers were saying things like, "tackle made by someone other than Shawn Crable." He has to do this consistently to live up to the hype, but at least now we have a game where he showed what he is capable of.
I am still concerned about him position-wise. I think he plays LB, but he is so tall. I think the 6-6 height measurement is accurate and may actually be a little short. He is at least that.
He did not play in an attack style of defense. Crable ended up dropping into coverage as much as he rushed the passer. If he ends up at LB, I think it will help him in the long run, but I believe he will be a DE. He has long arms that will help him to keep blockers off his body and has unusual athleticism for a player his size. He camped at Ohio State. He showed up at a lean 215 pounds and then ran a reported 4.5. Several campers have told me he was as fast as any of the backs. He still he has that DE height and wingspan. There are questions that all recruiting coordinators will have to try and find answers to with Crable. Will he grow into a DE? Is he a natural LB? Is he a tweener that will need to have a position created for him to be effective? How well Crable answers those questions will determine his future. He has as much raw athletic potential as any player in this outstanding class.
9. ***** Ernie Wheelwright 6-5 210 4.55 WR Columbus Walnut Ridge
Ernie is the best receiver in Ohio. He has great size and athleticism and leaps out of the stadium. He averaged over 20 yards a catch this season and had 13 touchdowns. He also ran back punts and kickoffs for TDs. He just goes up and takes balls away from defenders. He made a play in the Scots' playoff game versus City League rival Brookhaven that I can't get out of my head. The ball was thrown high. Wheelwright came out of nowhere, went waist high over the 2 defenders, came down with the ball, spun, broke a tackle and outran the pursuit to the end zone. That was one of the plays of the year. Among the schools he is interested in are Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, and Ohio State.
This one is special. He should not be as good as he is based on his
experience level. Wheelwright was a basketball player only until his freshman
year. I noticed on offense that he willingly blocked, which is something you
don't see a lot with top high school receivers. Wheelwright really went after
defenders, and he was even more physical on defense playing as a corner. This is
a player with unlimited potential on either side of the ball. He has the frame
to grow into a tight end or the way he gets after it we could see him eventually
at linebacker. Great character too. Academics need work.
10. ***** Sian Cotton 6-5 283 5.0 DT/OL Akron SVSM
Cotton came out of the camp season with his stock a little down. He was overweight and did not look motivated. There was a good reason for that -- Sian was hurt. He had a bad shoulder that kept him from lifting at camp. It was still with him until late in the year. He also had a leg injury that kept him from running at camp. That injury stayed with him until the season started.
Sian, however, never made excuses. He just kept working and came out with a stellar senior year. He chalked up 85 tackles and 13 sacks. Notice the measurements -- his weight is down to 283.
Cotton falls into the freak category. Players this big don't move like Cotton. He is not interested in the talk of possibly playing the offensive line though. He says any school that is recruiting him for offense will not get a visit. His family is very pro-Ohio State, and I think that is where Sian ends up. Pittsburgh is coming after him hard, and he will visit Florida too. Other visits are not set, and it will be difficult for Sian to set visits with his busy basketball schedule.