MSL/The Insiders Combine: Cincinnati

MSL/The Insiders brought their traveling combine to the Queen City on Saturday. The workout mainly consisted of several under-the-radar type players and some very promising youngsters, along with three kickers who put on a show. The entire MSL staff run a great combine, everything well organized and professional.

The MSL/Insiders Combine is very similar to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. The only differences are that MSL does not give a Wonderlic test, medical evaluation, and the bench press is 185 pounds instead of 225. The thing that makes MSL unique is their partnership with the NFL Coaches Association. Several of its members were on hand to help during the testing and to talk to the young men during breaks in the combine.

The combine attracted players from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, and as far away as Florida.

Three junior quarterbacks seemed to stand out for various reasons. Josh Febus (6-0, 195 Dublin-Coffman, Ohio) looked to be the most polished of the signal callers. He has a body like a linebacker and the arm of a quarterback. He is fundamentally very sound, with a nice release, an accurate arm and he gets his feet set properly. Febus transferred to Coffman-Dublin from Mount Vernon.

QB Tyler Dennis (5-11, 185, 4.7, West Holmes, Ohio) - Very sound fundamentally. Son of a coach and plays like it. Very fast and quick, needs to work on arm strength. Shows natural leadership abilities.

QB Dallas Richardson (5-11, 180, 4.6, Carrick, Pa.) - Very raw and athletic. All he lacks is solid coaching on his technique and fundamentals.

There were several running backs on hand. However, one showed skills above all the rest: sophomore Elijah Griffin (5-9, 175, 4.5, Westerville-South, Ohio). Griffin ran a 4.55 40-yard dash, 4.42 shuttle, and did 21 reps on the bench. He actually ran a 4.1 shuttle but did not touch the line and had to run it again. Griffin is a nephew of former two-time Heisman Trophy winner and Ohio State star Archie Griffin. Elijah was on another level compared to the rest of the backs. He cuts on a dime, has quick feet, ability to make people miss, catches the ball well out of the backfield, has nice acceleration and has the power to run through tacklers.

Wide receiver Richard Quinn (6-3, 215, 4.65, Maple Heights, Ohio) was head and shoulders above the competition, both literally and figuratively. The only downside is that he is still raw and learning the game. Quinn is being recruited as a tight end and receiver and has the frame to add extra weight.

On the offensive line, a sophomore from Smyrna, Tenn., Alan Smotherman (6-2 1/2, 265, 5.0), was the one who caught the eyes of most of the people from the Insiders including: Mike McCammon - InsidetheVille, Rod Gidle - InsideKentucky, Dave Berk - OhioPrepScene, and myself. Alan was very smooth and fluid during all the drills. He ran a 5.0 40 and did more than 20 reps on the bench. If this young man keeps growing and progressing the way he has, look out because he may be one of the best lineman in the nation next season.

David White (6-3, 300, 5.3) showed some tenacity during the drills and the one-on-ones. The thing that impressed most about White is his lateral foot speed.

The prospect that came out of nowhere and was unbeaten in one-on-one drills was Kaleb Renfro (6-1, 270, 5.3, Meridian, IL). He was easily the most fundamentally sound of the linemen. When taking on bigger opponents, he was always lower and locking on them, burying most in the ground.

Moving over to the defensive side of the ball, one defensive lineman stood out, Ryan Custer (6-4, 300, 5.4, Troy, OH). Ryan was the biggest of the lineman, a solid 300 pounds. He is a little raw as a DL, often trying to use straight power and bull rushing instead of using technique.

Austin Spitler (6-3, 225, 4.6) was easily the most impressive linebacker. He was the strongest at the combine, recording 31 reps at 185 pounds. He showed quick feet during the shuttle and agility drills. He has all the tools to be big time. A sophomore linebacker from Trotwood, Michael Baker (6-0, 205, 4.6), showed some flashes of being a force in the future.

The star of the combine, as far as position players goes, was an easy choice: cornerback Jovanni Chapel (5-10, 185, 4.49, Trotwood, Ohio). Chapel is only a sophomore but has a college body right now. He arrived late and promptly laid his backpack down and vertical jumped 31 inches. He then went upstairs and pushed out 20 reps on the bench. He ran a 4.7 40 on the slow surface at Nippert Stadium. He then went on to run an 11.4 in the long shuttle, the fastest time at the combine. During the one-on-one drills, Chapel had everyone on lockdown. He then caused a stir when he called out, "Give me the biggest you got." Chapel wanted to prove he could handle the big guys, so William Lewis, the highly touted wide receiver from Kentucky, stepped up and Chappel put the clamps on him. Lewis could not get free. He then gave that patented superstar smile and gave Lewis a pat on the back and said, "Good try." The most impressive thing is that Chapel carries a 3.8 GPA at Trotwood.

In the morning, the field belonged to the kickers and punters, which quickly formed into a battle between Chris Ludwig of Lockport, Ill., and two Pennsylvania kickers - Anthony Piccirilli of Hopewell and Patrick McAfee of Plum High School. McAfee left his high school prom at 1:30 am and he and his father made the five-and-a-half hour drive to Cincinnati to compete.

"My girlfriend was a little upset with me," McAfee said.

Ludwig showed well, drilling field goals from 45 yards and in. McAfee was in the zone drilling kicks from 65 yards and in, with distance to spare. Kickers are not used to having all the attention but when McAfee stepped up to kick the whole stadium stopped to watch his powerful leg. He may have put himself into position to be the best kicking prospect in the entire Atlantic region, perhaps in the nation.

Piccirilli, who prefers kicking off and punting, showed a strong leg booting field goals from 50 yards. During the kickoff portion of the combine, he and McAfee buried most of their kicks in the end zone. Piccirilli was punting 45-50 yards consistently, with four second hang time.

Cincinnati Combine: Top 5 At Each Drill

40 Time

Elijah Griffin: 4.55
Stephen Childs: 4.67
Johnny Winston: 4.69
Steven Hensley: 4.69
Jovan Chappel: 4.70

Long Shuttle
Jovan Chappel: 11.46
Jerrell Leak: 11.64
Elijah Griffin: 11.80
Kevin Dawson: 11.97
Bryan Dean: 11.98

Short Shuttle

Jahcel Glover: 4.19
Jerrell Leak: 4.21
Kevin Dawson: 4.22
Cameron Mobley: 4.24
Adam Brown: 4.24

Angle Drive
Richard Quinn: 10.68
Jahcel Glover: 10.80
Kevin Dawson: 10.93
Chris Givenss: 10.93
Antonio Magnone: 10.96

Nate Yahle: 34
Jahcel Glover: 33.5
William Lewis: 33.5
Thomas Miller: 32
Joe Snyder: 32

Bench Press
Austin Spitler: 31
Ryan Coster: 23
David Fatula: 23
Adam Smotherman: 23
Gary Schussler: 22

Long Jump
Thomas Miller: 9-7
Jahcel Glover: 9-6
Chris Givenss: 9-3
Jovan Chappel: 9-3
Johnny Winston: 9-2

Badger Nation Top Stories