WESTMONT, Ill. – Core 6 Athletes put on their third annual winter showcase on Monday, and as usual the talent level on hand was very impressive. Among the top prospects were Top247 juniors Clifton Garrett (Joliet, Il./Plainfield South) and offensive tackle Jamarco Jones (Chicago, Il./De La Salle), who watched from the sidelines.
Ohio State is in a great spot with Core 6 Athletes Winter Showcase Overall MVP Clifton Garrett.
Here is a look at Monday’s top performers, who went through the rounds at station drills before competing in one-on-one’s.
1. Clifton Garrett, LB, Joliet (Il.) Plainfield South
Garrett took home the combine overall MVP honors and had the look of a top national prospect. The 6-foot-2, 222-pounder was very fluid throughout the day, especially in back pedal drills, which also showed in one-on-one’s. Garrett showed the ability to stay attached against running backs, with an impressive blend of quickness, change of direction and the ability to open up and run. Garrett lists Ohio State as the early leader and will be back on the Buckeyes campus in early February, but will also make trips to Ole Miss and Mississippi State in early April.
2. Jauan Wesley, WR, Harvey (Il.) Thornton Township
The 5-foot-10, 175-pound wide receiver was a route running machine on Monday. Wesley was quick off the line of scrimmage and repeatedly turned defensive backs around with his quickness in and out of breaks, and the ability to sell double moves. Wesley, the brother of class of 2013 Vanderbilt commit Jaylon Banks (Harvey, Il./Thornton Township), has a recent offer from Illinois with more expected in the coming weeks and months.
3. Jon Vea' Johnson, WR, Gary (In.) West Side
The son of West Side head coach and former NFL wide receiver Jason Johnson had the best hands at today’s event. He caught anything, and everything thrown his way with soft hands and arms extended. The 5-foot-11, 175-pounder was quick getting into routes, excelling in the short and intermediate passing game. Johnson will be at Illinois’ junior day this weekend.
4. Lonnie Johnson, WR, Gary (In.) West Side
Pound-for-pound, Johnson showed as much athleticism as any at the event. The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder worked out at receiver exclusively, and showed excellent quickness off the line easily beating press coverage. While Johnson fought the ball on short and intermediate routes, he showed the ability to be a vertical threat and run through the ball down the field. Johnson, who has an offer from favorite Ohio State, is much more comfortable catching the ball down the field, than with his hands in the intermediate game on throws with velocity.
5. Brian Allen, C, Hinsdale (Il.) Central
The 6-foot-1.5, 273-pound Allen first showed his quick feet in station drills, and continued to prove that he is one of the top interior prospects in the Midwest in one-on-one’s. Allen, who has offers from Michigan State, Wisconsin and others, won every rep working at left guard with a combination of quick feet, balance, a solid base with lower body strength and power and active hands and reactions. Allen’s brother, Jack Allen, is an offensive lineman for Michigan State.
6. Chris Slayton, WDE, Crete (Il.) Crete-Monee
The 6-foot-4.5, 235-pound Slaton didn’t come into the showcase with as much fan fair as others in the 2014 class, but had the look of a prospect that belongs long term. Slayton is blessed with a frame that can stack weight/muscle mass to over 250-pounds, and flashed above average feet and flexibility. Michigan State is currently showing the most interest.
7. Jake Kolbe, QB, Naperville (il.) Central
The 6-foot-1.5, 175-pound Kolbe was the top quarterback today. He showed a compact, quick release and spun the ball well in the short, intermediate and vertical passing game. He was quick and confident with his footwork and delivery. Kolbe, who has an offer from Toledo and interest from Illinois, Iowa and others, doesn’t possess the ideal frame and body type college coaches covet; but is a natural passer.
Jauan Wesley backed up his early offer from Illinois on Monday at the Core 6 Athletes Winter Showcase.
8. James Butler, RB, Wheaton (Il.) St. Francis
The 5-foot-8, 203-pound Butler impressed with his quick feet, excellent balance, change of direction and ability to comfortably catch the ball. Butler, who sat out in 2012 due to transfer rules, rushed for 1,200 yards as a sophomore at Bartlett. He is receiving interest from Iowa, Wisconsin, Purdue Cincinnati and Illinois. Butler will be at Illinois’ junior day this weekend.
9. Nile Sykes, LB/DE, Lombard Hill (Il.) Montini Catholic
Sykes proved again to be an athletic edge prospect on Monday. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder with offers from Illinois and Purdue among others, flashed a quick first step and straight-line speed on numerous occasions. Sykes, who is a hybrid outside linebacker/defensive end of sorts, wasn’t as naturally fluid as others in coverage, but he competed on every rep and is a plus athlete with long arms. Sykes is scheduled to attend junior days at Illinois and Indiana this weekend.
10. Ian Bunting, TE, Hinsdale (Il.) Central
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Bunting continued to show that he is a sure handed flex tight end prospect. He ran precise routes in the short passing game, and caught the ball with soft hands and arms extended against attached coverage on numerous occasions. Bunting who lists Vanderbilt as his early favorite, lined up in the slot in the 1-on-1 portion, and was the top performer of the tight end prospects. Bunting also has early offers from Purdue and Illinois.
11. Kirk Barron, OC, Mishawaka (In.) Marian High
The 6-foot-2, 290-pound Barron took home Offensive Line MVP honors working at center. He won every one-on-one repetition using a combination of balance with a terrific base, a strong initial punch and an aggressive mentality. What Barron lacks in ideal frame in terms of arm length and height, he makes up for in technique and motor. Barron is receiving attention from Kansas and TCU among others.
12. Chase Gianacakos, OT, Saint Charles (Il.) North
The 6-foot-6, 285-pound Gianacakos came in as a virtual unknown today, but showed that he possesses a high ceiling. While he has a ways to go in the strength department, he showed above average foot quickness for his size working at right guard and tackle in one-on-one’s, as well as impressive body quickness and knee bend. Gianacakos, whose father played at Illinois, will be at Illinois for their junior day next weekend and Boston College for the same in February.
-Lombard (Ill.) Montini Catholic defensive lineman Dylan Thompson was one of the more physically impressive prospects in attendance. The 6-foot-5, 270-pounder backed up during 1-on-1s, dominating with a variety of pass rushing movies. He'll visit Illinois and Indiana on Saturday and Sunday for junior days. Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State are his early top four.
- Belleville (Ill.) West linebacker Tori Millender is a compact body type, powerful, strong lower body. He moves better than anticipated when seen on the hoof. Already has an offer from Purdue.
- Joliet (Ill.) Catholic junior offensive lineman J.B. Butler performed like a BCS prospect during 1-on-1s and also looked athletic during position drills. His class-of-2016 teammate Tyler Witt will also be an offensive lineman to watch. The 6-foot-3, 265-pound Witt already has the attention of the coaching staffs at Illinois and Indiana.
- Downers Grove (Ill.) North junior Vontae Diggs is starting to garner major BCS interest from the likes of Michigan and Ohio State and it was easy to see why. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Diggs has nice first step quickness, and has a great frame. He’s a tweener outside linebacker/defensive end at this point.
- St. Louis (Mo.) Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day cornerback Alim Muhammad was one of the top cornerbacks in attendance. Was quick and showed really good hip turn in coverage. The 5-foot-9, 160-pound cornerback also stood out during position drills with his athleticism.
- Outside of Kolbe, Gary (Ind.) West Side class-of-2015 quarterback Ramone Atkins was the most consistent passer. He hit on a variety of completions and showed the nice touch that allowed him to throw for 3,012 yards and 36 touchdowns as a sophomore.
- Morton (Ill.) High junior Damon Munoz was a thick and stout offensive guard prospect that showed very well in 1-on-1s. Iowa State is the program showing the most early interest. He’s visited the Cyclones campus twice and plans to do so again in the near future. Illinois also has the 6-foot-4, 280-pound Munoz on the radar.
- Lisle (Ill.) Benet Academy safety Porter Ontko flashed as good impressive of feet and short space quickness and burst as any athlete at the event. The Penn State legacy is hearing from the Nittany Lions and Iowa. He attended the Hawkeyes junior day on Sunday.
- Tinley Park (Ill.) Andrew running back Jarvion Franklin followed up a good U.S. Army National Combine with another strong showing. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Franklin was the most physically impressive back in attendance and he was strong in position drills.
- Chicago (Ill.) Marist sophomore receiver Flynn Nagel is a slippery slot receiver that catches everything thrown his way. Is also strong after the catch. Caught 58 passes for 775 yards and nine touchdowns as a sophomore. Is the younger brother of former Northwestern players Aaron and Brett Nagel.
National Writer Steve Wiltfong contributed to this report.