COLUMBUS, Ohio – The two-day Kirk Herbstreit National Kickoff Classic held on Ohio State’s campus began on Sunday with four of the state’s top programs participating.
Pickerington Central WR Roger Lewis got comfortable with the Ohio State end zone on Sunday, as the future Buckeye scored twice.
In the first game, Pickerington (Ohio) Central had the headliners led by Ohio State commits Roger Lewis and Jacoby Boren, but those two weren’t enough in a 38-21 loss to powerhouse Cincinnati (Ohio) St. Xavier. In the nightcap, Upper Arlington had a quiet performance from its Buckeyes commit in Frank Epitropoulos, but didn’t need him in a 34-19 victory over Springfield.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Lewis was the day’s top performer, hauling in four receptions for 112 yards and two touchdowns (43, 39). With a college ready body, Lewis is quicker than fast, and showed off some nifty moves in space. He’s comfortable lining up outside and in the slot. Perhaps even more impressive was his physical play as a blocker, twice stopping play after dazing a St. Xavier defender with a crushing blow. Lewis didn’t play any defensive back in the loss, but he showed the ability to do so this summer during the New Level Athletics 7-on-7 National Championships.
The 6-foot-3, 290-pound Boren played mostly right tackle but will play center for the Buckeyes. He delivers good punch and gets a lot of push as a physical run blocker. Also had good feet as a pass blocker and again deliver strong blows to pass rushing defensive ends rushing off the edge in keeping them away from the quarterback.
Upper Arlington targeted the 6-foot-3, 195-pound Epitropoulos deep a few times, but only connected once for 41 yards. Playing with a wrapped hand because of a torn ligament in his thumb, Epitropoulos will have surgery on Tuesday according to his father, and will be out two to three weeks. He did not play defense on Sunday because of the injury. Epitropoulos did punt six times for an average of 43 yards.
Future247 outside linebacker/defensive end Taco Charlton was a force in the first half for Pickerington Central, racking up a sack and later falling on St. Xavier quarterback Griffin Dolle on a snap that went over his head. The 6-foot-6, 245-pound Charlton is extremely long and has the frame to add another 60 pounds. He lined up in both the two-point and three-point stances, and his strength is still as a pass rusher, however he’s developing as a run stuffer and zone coverage guy. Charlton also showed a motor this afternoon, one time chasing down a ball carrier downfield for a play. According to his parents, Cincinnati has made the biggest impression on Charlton early in the process, and Notre Dame and Purdue are two schools that will likely get fall visits. Besides the Bearcats and Boilermakers, UCLA and Syracuse have offered and Charlton could make a decision shortly after his junior season.
Indiana safety commit Sebastian Smith played a lot of centerfield on Saturday as St. Xavier lined up with four wide receivers most of the afternoon. He always seemed to be around the football, and racked up a game high 8.5 tackles. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Smith made several open field tackles preventing big plays. Also ran down a St. Xavier kick returner from behind possibly preventing a touchdown. Plays punt coverage as well, and will be an experienced special teams player before he gets to Bloomington, which always helps a player get on the field as a true freshman.
St. Xavier linebacker and Miami (Ohio) commit Nathan Gerbus is a complete player and had a big game, racking up eight tackles with three coming for loss and two sacks. He also forced a fumble and intercepted a pass.
Possibly the best athlete on the St. Xavier roster is junior receiver Trey Kilgore, who said after the game he’s already hearing from several places including Wisconsin, Northwestern, Kentucky and Cincinnati. He had limited opportunities on Sunday, catching three passes for 37 yards. Kilgore has good size at 6-foot-2, 180-pounds, and he finds his top-end speed quickly after the catch. LSU is a school he’d like to hear from and he plans on visiting for a game sometime this fall.
Charlton is one of the state of Ohio's top juniors and showed why on Sunday.
St. Xavier running back Conor Hundley finished up with 24 carries for 156 yards and four touchdowns. His coach Steve Specht said he’s drawing interest from many Big Ten and MAC programs.
“He’s as good as anybody I’ve ever coached,” Specht said. “We’ve had a lot of guys get scholarship at running back, and right now we have a lot of people looking at him but nobody’s pulling the trigger. Somebody’s going to get a great back.”
Helping pave the way for Hundley was Brandyn Cook. The 6-foot-2, 292-pound center and Pittsburgh commit gave good push, as most of Hundley’s damage came up the gut. Cook was a little erratic with his shotgun snapping.
-The Pickerington Central-St. Xavier game was delayed twice, once before kickoff and once in the second half because of thunderstorms.
-Cincinnati St. Xavier senior safety Andrew Arand had an interception he returned 23 yards. Air Force has offered.
-Pickerington Central linebacker and Kent State commit Jake Kincaid had 6.5 tackles and a first quarter fumble recovery.
-Toledo is getting a prospect with a lot of upside in 6-foot-8, 268-pound offensive tackle James Henry. Once he finds a college weight room, he could become a monster. Very long arms, and moves well laterally.
-Upper Arlington sophomore defensive tackle Noah Spielman, 6-1, 227, is the son of Ohio State great Chris Spielman. Plays with a big-time motor and was always the first player to make contact after the snap. Was double teamed most of the evening and finished with two tackles for loss. Another good looking sophomore for the Golden Bears was defensive back Jared Drake (6-2, 206), who had a game high eight tackles, a forced fumble and one interception returned 23 yards for a score. Their classmate Chris Frey (6-3, 195) had four tackles and an interception returned 39 yards for six points.
-Springfield has several young prospects to keep an eye on. Receiver Thaddeus Snodgrass (6-1, 175) has big-time athleticism and quicks, the sophomore just needs to become more consistent. Had a couple drops and a fumble. Sophomore linebacker Davonte James (6-3, 220) finished with 4.5 tackles including two coming in the Upper Arlington backfield. Junior quarterback Chris Wallace isn’t very big, listed at 6-foot, 190 pounds, but he has a strong arm. He finished 29-of-50 passing for 313 yards and two touchdowns to just one interception.
-247Sports will be on hand for the final day on Monday to see Cleveland (Ohio) Glenville and it’s bevy of outstanding prospects led by Top247 Ohio State commit De’van Bogard take on Camden County (Ga.) High and class of 2013 Georgia commit Brice Ramsey among others. The second game features Indianapolis (Ind.) Cathedral and Notre Dame safety pledge John Turner vs. Centerville (Ohio) High and uncommitted Top247 outside linebacker Ifeadi Odinegbo and Michigan State offensive line commit Benny McGowan.