COLUMBUS, Ohio – On Friday the Ohio State practice fields hosted a loaded Elite 11 event while Saturday, an equally loaded Nike Camp featured much more than just quarterbacks. Though the event was stacked with talent at every position, it might as well have been a defensive line showcase based on the number of elite defenders that dominated the line of scrimmage.
Sheldon Day was a late arrival but was impossible to miss when on the field.
To earn MVP amongst the terrific group of defensive linemen in Columbus is certainly a statement in itself but Kansas City (Mo.) Park Hill defensive tackle Ondre Pipkins had made his name known well before he was announced as the position group’s MVP. In fact, Pipkins caught most people’s eye just by walking in the door.
In some defensive schemes, being stout is a crucial attribute for interior defenders. For those schools that place a high value on that stoutness, Pipkins has the ideal frame. He’s 6-3, 305 pounds but he’s not fat. He’s just wide and powerful and he will demand multiple blockers and free up his linebackers behind him. On Saturday, Pipkins used that powerful frame and added good explosiveness, agility and power. Pipkins arrived at the Columbus event seemingly on a mission to prove himself and after fighting for reps, and taking on all comers, he certainly accomplished his goal.
Already a four-star and a member of the Top247, Pipkins could see his stock climb even higher after Saturday’s effort.
If not for Pipkins – and a late arrival – Sheldon Day may have had a strong case for MVP honors as well. Also a defensive interior player, Day is more of a one-gap penetrating defensive tackle that showed phenomenal burst and quickness at the snap of the football. There just wasn’t a defensive tackle that could compare with Day’s combination of quickness and strength at the point of attack. Already a top100 prospect, Day backed up his ranking in a big way.
Danny O’Brien out of Flint (Mich.) Powers Catholic also made a big splash when he entered the fray. O’Brien is a prospect that could probably project as either a 3-technique or at nose but there is no question where he sets himself apart and that is with his power and toughness. O’Brien was all business and while he shows good quickness and feet, there is nothing finesse about the way he gets after the football. Another four-star prospect on 247Sports, O’Brien should remain as much.
There was plenty of talent that was coming off the edge on Saturday as well and perhaps none had a stronger reputation than Cincinnati (Ohio) Taft defensive end Adolphus Washington. Washington had a good day playing defensive end and showed some of the athleticism that helped him average over 20 points per game on the basketball court this season. Washington remains a big upside prospect that has some room for improvement in regard to his technique and his motor but when he wants to turn it on, Washington is a unique athlete to handle.
Four-star David Perkins was another tremendously athletic edge rusher in attendance though at 6-2, 215 pounds, outside linebacker may be in his future. Perkins is a cut, physically impressive prospect that may be a good fit as a 3-4 outside linebacker due to his comfort level rushing the passer.
Also undersized, Jonathan Burt may be a name to remember out of Indianapolis (Ind.) Warren Central. The Cincinnati commit is a strong side defensive end who comes in at around 6-2/250 but he had some of the best feet at the event, plays with really good leverage and really makes the most of the tools that he has. Already with an appropriately high three-star rating, Burt is a very nice pickup for the Bearcats.
On Friday nights, Burt will be joined by another intriguing prospect out of Warren Central in Jesse Thompson. Thompson is relatively unknown after missing most of his junior season due to injury but at 6-6, 260 pounds, you can’t miss him when he steps onto the field. He had one of the best football bodies in attendance with long arms and an athletic build and he adds athleticism to that equation as well. Look for Thompson to be a senior whose stock really rises during the fall and summer.
A pair of 2013 prospects look well on their way to four-star status in next year’s class in Pickerington (Ohio) Central’s Taco Charlton and Louisville (Ky) Trinity’s Jason Hatcher. Charlton is the type of player that you want coming off the bus first as a prospect with phenomenal length and athleticism. There may not have been a defensive end in attendance that has a better set of raw tools to work with than Charlton. Hatcher is more of a brute playmaker. He can use his hands well, he is a stocky and strong as an end but he has good rush instincts in his ability to get to the quarterback. Already Hatcher holds a host of offers and Charlton’s list should fill up quickly as well.
Other defensive line standouts: Alex Pace, Cleveland (Ohio) Glenville; Se’von Pittman, Canton (Ohio) McKinley; Langston Newton, Carmel (Ind.) High.
More top performer recaps from the loaded Ohio State Nike Camp will follow.