COLUMBUS, Ohio – It looked like home for the Ohio State commitments over the weekend in Columbus at the Nike Football Training Camp. Even though the camp was taking place down the road at Ohio Dominican University, several Ohio State commitments in attendance played as if they were in The Horseshoe.
Jayme Thompson didn't get invited to The Opening but was still one of the day's better performers.
Four Buckeye commits took part in the talent-laden event: five-star Jalin Marshall, four-stars Cameron Burrows and Billy Price and three-star Jayme Thompson. To a man, they each were gracious hosts at their future hometown and doled out plenty of lessons in one-on-ones and 7on7 work.
Marshall’s weekend began a day early at the Elite 11 Friday afternoon and he was strong from the start. Marshall is ranked on 247Sports as an athlete and we like him in a Percy Harvin type role for Urban Meyer on the next level, getting the ball in his hands and making plays in space.
Following his performance on Friday, we still like him receiving the ball on the next level rather than distributing it but we came away feeling confident that he is quarterback capable as he showed some ability as a passer.
On Saturday, Marshall played wide receiver and flashed the burst and quickness that earned him his fifth star. There were moments on Saturday in which Marshall jumped out as one of the most electric performers at the event but it is clear that he has a long way to go as a route-runner and a lot of polish to add to his game as a receiver.
Currently Marshall runs routes as if he’s playing in the backyard. There is not much discipline and structure to them. As he steps onto the field at Ohio State and tightens up his receiving skills and learns the position, he has a chance to be a huge threat in an offense that would fit his skill set to perfection.
On the other side of the ball, Thompson and Burrows each had strong showings as well. Thompson in particular jumps out because of his quick twitch movements and his enthusiasm for competition. He was at the front of the line in every drill and he is full speed in everything he does. Though he doesn’t have natural ball skills, Thompson looks like he’s going to have plenty of time to work on that because he will be around the ball plenty.
Burrows really exploded onto the scene last year at the Ohio Nike Camp and he had another strong showing as an upperclassman. With good size, technique and feel for the position, Burrows has a safety’s frame but has everything you want out of a cornerback as well.
At the line of scrimmage, Billy Price took home the defensive line MVP as selected by the Nike Camp staff. He is a thick, powerful looking prospect but he possesses an outstanding get-off at the snap. Price’s quickness at that size is what really sets him apart.
Michael McCray was one of four Michigan commit invited to The Opening.
For their efforts, Burrows, Marshall and Price were among seven players to earn invites to The Opening, Nike’s invite-only national camp in Oregon.
The other four prospects to earn invites should help fuel the Big Ten’s biggest rivalry. Michael McCray, Taco Charlton, David Dawson and Shane Morris are all Michigan commitments and all earned invites to The Opening as well.
Morris was the MVP of Friday’s Elite 11 regional and earned an invite to the Elite 11 finals as well. Dawson was named the camp’s top performer by 247Sports. McCray was one of the top linebackers at the event and Charlton had a great day on the defensive line after performing in similar fashion earlier this year at the Los Angeles Nike Camp.
Tight end or tackle?
There were several huge tight ends that took part in Saturday’s event yet there weren’t many reps in which they proved to be dominating in one-on-ones until Louisville commit Keith Towbridge convincingly won a rep – at offensive tackle.
At 6-5, 245 pounds Towbridge is a massive target at tight end and a solid prospect but when he lined up at offensive tackle for one-on-ones, he suddenly looked much more valuable. Towbridge showed very good feet and balance and a strong punch, stoning a defensive lineman on an inside move. It was a “who was that” type of rep and could foreshadow a college position change.
A couple of other prospects at the tight end position had similar versatility due to their frame. Columbus (Ohio) Eastmoor tight end Devon Edwards has similar size to Towbridge at 6-5, 240. He didn’t take any reps on the offensive line that we saw but with his frame, long arms and a body that looks taylor-made to add good bulk, Edwards could really be a factor protecting the edge.
Evan Jansen out of Cincinnati (Ohio) Moeller was another prospect that fit the profile of having some OL/TE versatility. He actually showed good hands and route-running ability despite his big 6-5, 235-pound frame. As a prospect that could project to a pass-catcher or a blocker, Jansen showed some reason for intrigue.
Keith Towbridge could be a beast on the offensive line.
Michigan commit Khalid Hill looks like a tight end all the way on the next level. He seems to have slimmed down throughout the spring and he is already building a strong report with his future quarterback Shane Morris through 7on7 work.
Cameron Burrows earned an invite to The Opening with his play on Saturday. Chauncey Scissum and Penn State commit Ross Douglas earned spots on our top performers list for their efforts. Yet none of those players even earned MVP at their position as named by the Nike Camp staff. That nod went to Delano Hill.
That is just how deep the defensive back group was on Saturday. Hill, an Iowa commit that has the look of a safety, has been outstanding all spring in coverage and could be one of the real sleepers in the Midwest. He lined up at cornerback much of the time and was shutting down all comers.
Hill wasn’t alone either. Desmond King out of Detroit (Mich.) Crockett looked great in coverage and very natural at cornerback. Josh Cox also had a great day as a safety. And Scissum may just be one of the top sleepers in the northeast.
If you were looking for the top players at the wide receiver position on Saturday, the best bet was to look at the youngsters. That’s because there was a flock of good talent out of the 2014 class that was standing out all afternoon.
Damon Webb out of Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech was as good as any showing smooth athleticism and natural ball skills but several other young receivers separated in more ways than one.
Damon Webb was as smooth as any wide receiver on Saturday.
Thaddeus Snodgrass out of Springfield, Ohio currently holds an early offer from Toledo and he looked like a major college prospect on Saturday with good acceleration and quickness in position drills and one-on-ones.
Even as a sophomore, Dominique Booth has a laundry list of offers out of Indianapolis (Ind.) Pike and he did nothing to show that those offers weren’t well-warranted. Booth has the size and the skill-set to continue to add offers over the next two years.
With so much 2013 talent at Friday’s Elite 11 regional, a fantastic group of 2014 prospects managed to get overshadowed but there were a handful of arms that will be the headliners a year from now.
Probably the top passer of the youngsters was Toledo (Ohio) Central Catholic’s DeShone Kizer. He’s already a name with which recruitniks and college coaches are familiar and he looked like a national recruit on Friday.
The 6-5, 207-pounder has all the size you could want out of a sophomore and he has a smooth, clean delivery. Throughout Friday and Saturday’s workouts, Kizer was accurate and consistent. He currently holds offers from Boston College, Bowling Green, Syracuse and Toledo.
Conversely, Reggie Bonnafon is a name that few likely know. He was a backup on one of the top high school teams in the country last year at Louisville (Ky.) Trinity and with a good senior returning in front of him doesn’t look like he’ll be starting under center as a junior either. However, Bonnafon is a great athlete that will start at wide receiver in 2012, play in certain situations under center and then move into the starting role as a senior.
With smooth arm action, the ability to make all the throws, good size at 6-2 and all kinds of athleticism, Bonnafon will be a national name in the 2014 class if he continues to develop.
Luke Del Rio is a gem at the quarterback position.
Another Kentucky product that already owns a Louisville offer is Drew Barker out of Hebron (Ky.) Conner. Barker was in attendance on both Friday and Saturday and confirmed that he is a definite name to watch. Barker has the size you want out of a quarterback and he was on point throughout the weekend with good feet, fundamentals and a strong arm.
- There may not be a prospect that helped himself more than Luke Del Rio over the weekend. Del Rio, the son of Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, recently transferred to Valor Christian in Littleton, Colo. Not only was Del Rio one of six finalists on Friday to earn an invite to the Elite 11 finals but he backed that up with a quarterback MVP award for Saturday’s performance. Currently with one offer from Colorado State, Del Rio should see his interest pick up this summer.
- Indianapolis Warren Central DE Anthony Winbush was one of the top speed rushers on Saturday. This summer he's looking to earn a scholarship from Purdue at camp. A Boilermakers offer would make the in-state program tough to beat.
- Detroit (Mich.) Loyola class of 2014 offensive tackle Ka'John Armstrong says he'll camp at Michigan State during the summer. He really enjoyed his visit to East Lansing during the spring, and the Spartans are high on the rising sophomore's list. Another program Armstrong is intrigued by is Notre Dame. The Irish were in the school late last week and offered his teammate Malik McDowell. Notre Dame assistant Chuck Martin also told Armstrong's coach that they were very interested in him as well.
- Fishers (Ind.) Hamilton Southeastern running back Jamitreus Crockham continues to say that Michigan is the camp he wants to attend the most this summer. Other than that, the talented 2014 prospect isn't sure where he'll visit. He did make it to Louisville's spring game in April.
- Cincinnati (OH) LaSalle 2014 receiver Derek Kief is one to watch in the Buckeye State. Illinois has already offered.
MVPs and more
As selected by the Nike coaching staff, the following MVPs were named at the conclusion of Saturday’s camp:
Offensive line: David Dawson, Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech
Defensive line: Billy Price, Youngstown (Ohio) Fitch
Linebacker: Michael McCray, Dayton (Ohio) Trotwood-Madison
Running back: David Gaydosz, Winfield, W.V.
Wide receiver: Gary Brown, Westerville (Ohio) South
Defensive back: Delano Hill, Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech
Quarterback: Luke Del Rio, Littleton (Colo.) Valor Christian
The Elite 11 had one MVP, Michigan commit Shane Morris, but it named six finalists for the award: Morris, Del Rio, Stanford commit Ryan Burns, Purdue commit Danny Etling, Notre Dame commit Malik Zaire and uncommitted Max Staver out of Brentwood (Tenn.) Brentwood Academy.
Also at the Elite 11, there was also an accuracy competition and six players were recognized for their performance: Luke Brumbaugh of Pittsburgh (Pa.) Seton-Lasalle, Ian Gory of Dover, Del., Isaac Heard of Edgerton, Minn., Jalin Marshall, Middletown, Ohio, Brett Sheehan of Suwanee (Ga.) Collins Hill and Logan Woodside of Frankfort (Ky.) Franklin County.