April 20, 2007

Ohio's top prospect a tough call

Who's the top high school football player in Ohio for the Class of 2008?

Unlike in many other years, there's no clear-cut answer to that question.

Every time the question is asked, the debate rages. What about Brandon Beachum? What about Mike Adams? What about Kyle Rudolph? What about Devoe Torrence? What about so-and-so, etc.

While it's still tough to peg who is No. 1, there's no debating that this year is a loaded year in the Buckeye State. From top to bottom, this year's crop is full of high level national prospects.

"Ohio has an abundance of talent this year, yet no player has laid claim to top-player status," OhioVarsity.com editor Mike Parris said. "Several of the best players in the state - such as Brandon Beachum and Devoe Torrence - are very similar players in terms of size, athleticism, and offer sheet. Yet, each projects differently at the collegiate level. The same can be said for the outstanding tight end class and wide receivers."

In the recently released Pre-evaluation period Rivals100, there were five players from Ohio that made the list - linebacker Brandon Beachum, tight end Brandon Moore, tight end Kyle Rudolph, receiver Cordale Scott and athlete Devoe Torrence.

Further film evaluation has already juggled up that list quite a bit. With the upcoming NIKE Training Camps at both West Lafayette, Ind., and State College, Pa. - plus the Elite Skills Camp in Cleveland - there's sure to be more shuffling before the first official Rivals100 rankings are released.

There's a core group of 10 prospects for this year's class that have emerged over the others. Below is an early look at the top 10 prospects in Ohio and a breakdown of several other Division I prospects in the area. The players are listed in alphabetical order.

Ohio top 10

Mike Adams

6-7, 308, OL, Dublin (Ohio) Coffman

Adams in action

Many people were shocked when Adams wasn't a member of the pre-evaluation period Rivals100. It's easy to see why some might question the move because 6-foot-7, 308-pound offensive tackles don't exactly grow on trees. Adams has a great deal of potential, but he still has a ways to go. There aren't too many kids that pass the eyeball test like him, and on film he does show flashes of brilliance. But when compared to the other high profile offensive tackles in this year's class, he doesn't take over games like they do. If Adams works hard as a senior and takes steps toward turning that potential into accomplishments, then he should easily earn a spot with the best of the best.

Recruiting update: Few players had an offer list like Adams did. He turned down offers from Tennessee, Florida, LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Notre Dame and countless others before he accepted an offer from the hometown Ohio State Buckeyes.

Brandon Beachum

6-1, 220, LB, Youngstown (Ohio) Cardinal Mooney

Beachum in action

Beachum is viewed by some as the top prospect in Ohio, and he definitely brings a strong résumé to the table. As a junior, he rushed for 1,500 yards and 16 touchdowns. As a head-hunting linebacker, he had 123 tackles and 12 sacks. Not only is he a tackle machine, he's clutch in big games. In the state championship game, Beachum ran for 61 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. He added 11 tackles, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery on defense. He was also a varsity starter for Poland (Ohio) Seminary his freshman and sophomore years before transferring to Youngstown Cardinal Mooney.

Recruiting update: He has all of the offers of a true national recruit. Florida State, LSU, Penn State, West Virginia, Pitt, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Michigan State and Illinois are just some of the schools have extended him scholarship offers. He said he'll start to narrow things down in May or June. Ohio State has yet to offer him.

Daniel McCarthy

6-2, 190, DB, Youngstown (Ohio) Cardinal Mooney

McCarthy in action

McCarthy is a do-it-all player that is very good in everything he does. On offense, he stars as Mooney's feature back. He rushed for 1,910 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2006. On defense, he's a hard-hitting safety that made 112 tackles, seven sacks and two interceptions. His 4.5-speed often allowed him to make something out of nothing, but it was his competitiveness that helped him emerge as a player. "I feel one of my strengths is that I love to compete," he said. "I play my hardest and feel that I am physical with speed to get to where I need to be." His brother Kyle is a redshirt freshman defensive back at Notre Dame.

Recruiting update: McCarthy recently took unofficial visits to Notre Dame, Michigan and Ohio State, and it looks like those teams stand out at this point. He also has offers from Indiana, Iowa, LSU, Oklahoma and heavy interest from Florida.

Brandon Moore

6-6, 243, TE, Trotwood (Ohio) Madison

Moore in action

Moore is a combination of a throwback tight end and a new-wave tight end. Not only is he big and physical at 6-foot-6 and 243 pounds, but he also is fast enough to line up in the slot and beat defensive backs down the field. Moore is especially good on slip screens and short hitch passes. He is also a very aggressive blocker. With his size, he can overpower defenders. As a junior, he had 20 receptions for 350 yards and five touchdowns. "The coaches tell me they like the way I use my hands when I catch the ball," Moore said. They also mention they think I have good playmaking skills and that they like my footwork, too."

Recruiting update: With 32 scholarship offers, Moore is one of the nation's most heavily recruited tight ends. The list is rather long, but a few teams like Georgia, Michigan, Miami, Florida, Minnesota, Notre Dame, LSU and Florida State stand out at this point. It also looks like he'll wait a long time before making his decision.

DeVier Posey

6-3, 190, WR, Cincinnati LaSalle

Posey in action

A football star. A track star. A perfect 4.0 grade-point average. That's a pretty impressive package, and that's why Posey (6-3, 190) is one of the best in the Buckeye State. He had 33 receptions for 750 yards and nine touchdowns in 2006. One of the most complete receivers in the Midwest, Posey has good hands, a great frame and breakaway ability. He's also one of the best two-sport stars in the state.

Recruiting update: Posey ended it early by committing to Ohio State. He turned down offers form Virginia, Cal, Cincinnati, Clemson and Michigan State. Who knows how many offers he would have had had he not decided to commit on March 13.

Kyle Rudolph

6-7, 220, TE, Cincinnati Elder

Rudolph in action

There's a strong push from local observers to crown him as the top player in the state, and it's going to be tough to argue against it. At 6-foot-7 and 220 pounds, Rudolph can create some horrible matchup problems for defenders. Not only is he big enough to go up and get the ball over defenders, he's also fast enough to get past them. He's one of the top basketball players in Ohio, so there's no questioning his athletic ability. He finished his junior campaign with approximately 30 receptions for 400 yards and seven touchdowns.

Recruiting update: Rudolph was offered before the end of his junior season by a number of teams - including both Ohio State and Notre Dame. He also picked up offers from Tennessee, Virginia, Boston College, Louisville, Miami, Michigan and many others. In the end, he said he found the perfect fit when he committed to Notre Dame.

Zerbie Sanders

6-5, 273, OL, Clayton (Ohio) Northmont

While most are calling Mike Adams the top offensive line prospect in the Buckeye State, quite a few coaches are quietly saying that Sanders might be the real top player at his position. The debate between Sanders and Adams likely will go deep into their senior seasons, but there's little debating that Sanders is one of the best of the best. At 6-foot-5 and 273 pounds, Sanders is still rather lean and should be able to add a good 30 pounds and still remain extremely athletic. He also has a mean streak that shows up on film, and he goes hard on almost every single play. He definitely doesn't take any plays off.

Recruiting update: With 14 offers on the table, he says he's not going to rush into a decision. He says his favorites include USC, Ohio State and Georgia, but the Trojans and Bucks have yet to offer. The others that have offered along with UGA include Clemson, Louisville, Miami, Michigan and Michigan State.

Cordale Scott

6-3, 200, WR, Cleveland Glenville

There's been an amazing pipeline of talent from Cleveland's Glenville High School, and Scott is next in line. While he might not be a blazer, he has amazing body control and he has little problem getting separation between himself and the defensive back. He's a pretty consistent route runner, and he has a knack for making big plays at key times. He caught 27 passes and scored four times on offense while intercepting five passes from his strong safety spot. Scott took four of those five interceptions back for touchdowns.

Recruiting update: Most assume that he's Ohio State bound - like almost every other high profile recruit from Glenville the past few seasons. But he does have a long list of national offers, including Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and others. He plans on going through the entire recruiting process and taking visits.

Jake Stoneburner

6-6, 223, TE, Dublin (Ohio) Coffman

Woods in action

Stoneburner compares himself to recently departed Ohio State tight end and future NFL Draft pick Anthony Gonzalez. The only thing is he's bigger, he's stronger and he's faster than Gonzalez. Stoneburner is a combination between a receiver and a tight end. He's not a great blocking tight end at this point, so that's one area of his game that he'll need to improve. However, he does know how to make plenty of plays. He fits the mold of the type of tight end that's sweeping through college football.

Recruiting update: Stoneburner stayed home, picking hometown Ohio State over several other offers. He was also recruited by Oklahoma State, Penn State, USC, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame and numerous others.

Devoe Torrence

6-2, 210, ATH, Massillon (Ohio) Washington

Torrence in action

Torrence is a lot of things - a running back, a quarterback, a linebacker, a punt returner and a kick returner, but there's one thing that he does better than anything else. He plays with passion. There isn't a player that's more aggressive, enthusiastic and angry on film in the state of Ohio than Torrence. He can project at a number of different positions in college. His film proves that he's excellent on offense with the ball in his hands, but there's just something about him on defense that makes it easy to see him roaming the field at outside linebacker.

Recruiting update: Offers from Pittsburgh, Purdue, Akron, Cincinnati, Michigan, Michigan State, Ole Miss and others couldn't stop him from jumping on an offer from Ohio State. Torrence will join his older brother Devon, who signed with the Bucks in last year's class.

Best of the rest

Northeast: Johnny Adams, Akron Buchtel, DB; Harold Coates, Youngstown Ursuline, OL; Whitney Mercilous, Akron Garfield, DE; Taylor Hill, Youngstown Cardinal Mooney, LB; Michael Zordich, Youngstown Cardinal Mooney, LB

Cleveland: Nic DiLillo, Madison, TE; Justin Staples, Lakewood St. Edward, LB; Shawntel Rowell, Cleveland Glenville, OL; Dawawn Whitner, Cleveland Glenville, DT

Columbus: Ben Buchanan, Westerville Central, K; Trey Fairchild, Dublin Coffman, ATH; Isaiah Pead, Columbus Eastmoor Academy, RB; Nathan Williams, Washington Court House Miami Trace, DE

Cincinnati/Dayton: Darius Ashley, Cincinnati St. Xavier, RB; Domonick Britt, Trotwood Madison, QB; Fred Craig, Cincinnati St. Xavier, LB; Michael Shaw, Trotwood Madison, RB; D.J. Woods, Strongsville, WR; Aaron Van Kuiken, Cincinnati Turpin, OL

Toledo: Elliot Mealer, Wauseon, OL; Kevin Koger, Toledo Whitmer, DE

Five sleepers

Chandler Burden, Cincinnati La Salle, OL: Burden is a two-way threat at both defensive end and offensive line. Most coaches love his explosion at defensive line, but he's probably best suited to be an offensive lineman in college. He played almost exclusively on the offensive line in 2006, but he did play the final three games at nose tackle - where he made an impact. Regardless of where he plays, he's definitely one to watch.

Zac Dysert, Ada, QB: After throwing for almost 4,000 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2006, there are going to be quite a few schools that take a long look at Dysert. He already has offers on the table from Cincinnati and Tory, but others like Akron, Utah, Pittsburgh, Northwestern and Miami are taking a long look at him.

Will Fleming, Akron Hoban, DB: The tall, rangy safety brings a 4.52-second time in the 40-yard dash to the table along with his 6-foot-4, 194-pound frame. He's always around the football and more and more teams will be impressed with his film in the spring evaluation process.

B.J. Machen, Hilliard Darby, LB: Has truly shined in the spring evaluation process. He has recent offers from Maryland, West Virginia and Duke in the last week. He also has offers from Central Michigan and Miami University. Machen, who runs the 40-yard dash in 4.67 seconds, plays hard and tries to be more physical than his opponent.

Ryan Radcliff, Sherwood Fairview, QB: Everybody is trying to catch lightning in a bottle at quarterback and find the next great Ohio signal-caller that might be under-recruited but ultra-talented. Radcliff might be that guy in this class. The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder has set a number of school records. Radcliff completed 336 of 557 passes for 4611 yards during his junior season. He connected for 57 touchdowns with 18 interceptions. Radcliff works exclusively out of the shotgun formation with five wide outs. Bowling Green is his only early offer, but it's not going to be his last for sure.

Ohio top 10 prospects | Best of the rest | Sleepers


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