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September 23, 2008

From the Road: Offensive skill

Rivals.com recruiting analysts had the opportunity to scout some of the nation's top prospects in games this past weekend.

Saint Louis University High athlete Ronnie Wingo Jr. showed off his versatile skills in a 51-13 victory over St. Louis Vashon.

Here are some rundowns on the top Class of 2009 offensive prospects they saw in person, listed alphabetically.

WR KRAIG APPLETON (6-3/190), East St. Louis (Illinois) High
CONSIDERING: Top five of LSU, Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio State and Notre Dame.
PERFORMANCE: Three catches for 69 yards and one touchdown; also caught two 2-point conversion passes in a 61-7 victory over Belleville (Ill.) West.
STRENGTHS: Has excellent height, uses his size to get open and catches the ball at its highest point. Appleton is a vertical threat who uses his long strides to get behind defensive backs.
WEAKNESSES: Needs to work on adjusting to the ball when the throws are off-target. BARRY EVERY
RB ALEX CRUTCHER (6-0/195), Nashville (Tenn.) Hillsboro
CONSIDERING: Holds one offer, from Texas Tech.
PERFORMANCE: Eight carries for 114 yards and a touchdown in a 28-12 victory over Nashville Maplewood.
STRENGTHS: Crutcher is being recruited by many as a safety, but he showed why his lone offer (Texas Tech) is as a running back. Fresh off an ankle injury, Crutcher showed great feet, breaking tackles and avoiding defenders until he found the holes. Once he did hit the hole, he showed good burst and speed, running away from the defense for a 67-yard gain.
WEAKNESSES: Crutcher is a little bit of an unknown, particularly as a running back. He primarily was a defender as a junior and started to make some noise on offense in the spring. Crutcher has battled an ankle injury, so the key for him will be to stay healthy and prove he can be effective on a weekly basis. BARTON SIMMONS
WR TERRY HAWTHORNE (6-0/168), East St. Louis (Ill.) High
COMMITTED TO: Illinois
PERFORMANCE: Had two catches for 77 yards and a TD, and also rushed for 72 yards and a TD in a 6-17 victory over Belleville (Ill.) West. He also had four tackles and a fumble recovery on defense.
STRENGTHS: Has excellent speed and quickness and is able to adjust to underthrown passes. Hawthorne does have the ability to play defense, as he is not afraid to hit and has the hips and ball skills to be a defensive back.
WEAKNESSES: Needs to add some size and strength in order to take the physicality of college football. B.E.
OT WESLEY JOHNSON (6-5/255), Nashville (Tenn.) Montgomery Bell Academy
CONSIDERING: Georgia Tech, Vanderbilt and Auburn.
PERFORMANCE: Spearheaded an offense that rolled up 51 points against Hendersonville (Tenn.) Pope John Paul II.
STRENGTHS: Athletic body. Loves to block downfield and has a real nasty streak. Johnson is constantly hunting down someone to hit and constantly blocks two or even three guys per play. Has good knee bend and hip flexibility and is explosive out of his stance.
WEAKNESSES: Weight, weight, weight. If Johnson were pushing 300 pounds, he would be one of the most highly recruited players in the region. He does look thicker than he did this summer and looks as though he is putting in the effort to add needed mass. B.S.
TE CODY MAGILL (6-4/250), Gaithersburg (Md.) Quince Orchard
COMMITTED TO: Delaware
PERFORMANCE: Magill played tight end and linebacker in Quince Orchard's 35-3 victory over Damascus (Md.) High. He was used solely as a blocker on offense, basically a sixth lineman.
STRENGTHS: Magill has excellent size and the frame to add plenty of weight. He's an excellent in-line blocker and does well at the second level hitting moving targets. He could grow into an offensive tackle if needed, but will get his first look as a big tight end.
WEAKNESSES: It's hard to gauge Magill's ability as a pass-catcher in Quince Orchard's offense because he's not a primary target on a run-oriented team. But his mobility is evident. MIKE FARRELL
RB TRON MARTINEZ (5-9/186), Hampton (Va.) High
CONSIDERING: Virginia Tech, Maryland, North Carolina
PERFORMANCE: He had a career-high 279 rushing yards on 32 carries and six total touchdowns, five on the ground, in Hampton's 41-14 win over Newport News (Va.) Denbigh. He also had an interception return for a touchdown.
STRENGTHS: Martinez has deceptive speed, and when he hits the hole, he runs hard and accelerates through it. It took multiple defenders to take him down, and he was ripping off runs of 8 to 10 yards with ease. He showed nice coverage ability on defense going up for an interception.
WEAKNESSES: The only major question for Martinez is that he is small; he is a tick shorter than his listed height and that probably is hurting him with recruiters. He also didn't show much in the way of receiving skills. M.F.
QB THERON NORMAN (6-2/190), Richmond (Va.) Hermitage
COMMITTED TO: Virginia Tech
PERFORMANCE: Norman was 10-of-22 for 104 yards and a touchdown but was sacked seven times for 36 yards in a 22-8 loss to Richmond (Va.) Varina.
STRENGTHS: Norman throws a nice, tight spiral and is confident and accurate in the short passing game. Norman did show some scrambling ability, but only ran a couple times for minimal pickups and has been hampered by a leg injury. He has good size and was one of the better prospects on the field despite the loss.
WEAKNESSES: Norman isn't a quarterback. Under constant pressure, Norman made a couple of bad decisions, both of which nearly got intercepted. M.F.
RB WESLEY TATE (6-2/205), Hendersonville (Tenn.) Pope John Paul II
CONSIDERING: Stanford, Vanderbilt, Middle Tennessee State, Air Force and others
PERFORMANCE: 69 yards on 17 carries in a 51-7 loss to perennial power Nashville Montgomery Bell Academy.
STRENGTHS: The brother of Notre Dame WR Golden Tate has much better size than his sibling. Tate ran extremely hard all night despite his line being overmatched. He has good feet for a player of his size. Not a lumbering back, but works between the tackles well and takes what the defense gives him.
WEAKNESSES: Doesn't really scare you as a home-run threat. Doesn't have the kind of explosiveness to really make a big gain out of nothing, but can get you positive yardage in bleak situations. B.S.
WR BOBBY SMITH (6-6/200), Richmond (Va.) Varina
CONSIDERING: East Carolina, Maryland, Syracuse and others.
PERFORMANCE: Smith had eight receptions for 141 yards and two touchdowns in a 22-8 victory over Richmond (Va.) Hermitage.
STRENGTHS: There's no question Smith is big, and his size was a clear advantage as he went over smaller corners a number of times to make the big catch. Smith also has good elusiveness in the open field, as he made two defenders miss and shed a tackle to run free down the sideline for a score that was called back. He also showed soft hands.
WEAKNESSES: The big question is his speed, and he struggled at times with his downfield blocking. M.F.
ATH RONNIE WINGO JR. (6-3/212), Saint Louis University High
CONSIDERING: Says he will take visits to Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas and Missouri.
PERFORMANCE: Ran for 74 yards and one TD while catching two passes for 60 yards all in the first half in a 51-13 victory over St. Louis Vashon.
STRENGTHS: Has tremendous size and home-run speed. He also has excellent hands and could line up as a slot receiver.
WEAKNESSES: Needs to become more physical as a runner by lowering his shoulder and running over smaller opponents. B.E.

UP NEXT: Class of 2009 defensive prospects and underclassmen from the weekend.



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