Spring is not just about the start of baseball season, it's also the beginning of the camp/combine season for high school football prospects. The National High School All-Star Combine was held at the Cleveland Browns' indoor facility last Wednesday. The event was strictly testing, no football simulation or one-on-one drills. Understand that the surface is considered a slow track, and these players are not in the running shape they will be in later this spring and summer, when evaluating the forty yard dash times.
In a setting of nearly 300 prospects, the Cleveland Glenville contingent took center stage. Ted Ginn brought at least ten players that are being recruited by Division-I colleges. A brief player description will focus on each prospect's skill level.
Offensive tackle Marcus Hall passes the look test with flying colors. With offers from Ohio State and many others, it appears the nation has taken notice. Hall's eye-popping shuttle time of 4.7, combined with a forty time of 5.10, made him an instant standout. Look for a video interview with Hall later this week.
Linebacker Jonathan Newsome is another physically impressive player. Newsome ran well, a 4.7 forty, and possesses great lateral quickness. He measured in at 6-foot-3 and 225-pounds. He has the frame to grow into a pass-rushing defensive end. Newsome, who has been offered by Ohio State, will also be featured in a video interview later this week.
Defensive back Mike Edwards visited Ohio State last weekend with teammate Jonathan Newsome. While Edwards has not been offered by Ohio State, he looks the part of a Big-10 player. Edwards stands 6-foot and weighs 185 pounds. He showed great hip turn and ran a 4.53 forty, one of the fastest times of the day.
Another prospect in the Ginn stable is linebacker Travis Freeman. Ginn raved about Freeman's leadership ability, both on the field and in the classroom. Ginn expects to see Freeman playing strong safety in the Big-10 some day. Freeman ran a 4.7 forty and was clearly disappointed in his time. Ginn said he is a sub 4.6 performer when in playing shape. I've seen Freeman play on three occasions and he is a play-maker. He also tested well as a sophomore at the Scout.com combine in Pittsburgh.
Aurora's Adam Bellamy put up big numbers and looked the part of a D-I defensive end. Bellamy checked in at 6-foot-4 and weighed 275-pounds. He showed great foot speed and nice overall strength. Bellamy is a player to watch in the class of 2009.
Northwest offensive lineman Nate Klatt has visited Ohio State and has early offers from Akron and Bowling Green. Klatt is massive at 6-foot-4 and 285-pounds. He plays center in high school and will end up playing in the Big-10 in my opinion. Klatt played 2007 with a broken bone in his ankle, which is admirable from a competitive standpoint, but doesn't allow his value to translate on film. He is healthy now, and had a very impressive combine showing. Look for a video interview about his Ohio State visit very soon.
The biggest surprise of the entire combine was the performance of Medina Highland's Chris Snook. Snook ran back to back 4.7 forty's and was disappointed in those times. Snook measured in at 6-foot-2 and weighed 215-pounds. His 4.25 shuttle time was as impressive as any big man I saw that day. The time itself was great, but the ease in which he glided through the drill was more impressive. Snook might be the best linebacker prospect in the state not named Storm Klein. He looks great on film and has the frame to add weight. He moves more fluid than I expected he could, and his change of direction is excellent. Snook is a top-20 player in Ohio based upon that performance alone. Look for a video interview to follow soon.
Henry Conway might have been the biggest player at the combine at 6-foot-6 and 295-pounds. Conway plays tackle at Shaker Heights but projects as a guard at the college level. He moves well for his size and appears to be a player with a lot of upside. He is a player to keep an eye on in 2009.
Brian Smith, of Walsh Jesuit, is another good looking offensive lineman. Smith checked in at 6-foot-6 and looked skinny at 270-pounds. Smith had great feet and showed a lot of athleticism. He has the frame to add 25 pounds easily.
Willoughby South quarterback Patrick Nicely measured 6-foot-4 and 208 pounds. He moved well, and although there were no throwing drills, he looked great throwing the football before the combine got started. In a year where no quarterbacks are leaping out in Ohio, Nicely is a kid I want to see play in live conditions. He looks the part of a D-I quarterback recruit.
Dale Peterman, of Youngstown Ursuline, is one of the top defensive back prospects in Ohio. He had a great junior season and looked good at the combine. Peterman measured 5-foot-10 and weighed 168-pounds. He ran two sub 4.6 forty yard dash times and blazed through the shuttle drill. He is a lock-down corner prospect.
Cleveland South quarterback Devontae Payne checked in at 6-foot-6 and weighed 227-pounds. He moves pretty well laterally, but it's obvious that he isn't a "combine" player. I mention him because he is an intriguing athlete. His coach insists he will be a quarterback at the next level, but he looks and moves like a future defensive end. Payne is a player to watch in 2008.
The "unofficial" MVP of the combine was Chris Fields of Painesville Harvey. Fields ran back-to-back 4.43 forty yard times, and appeared to be gliding. His running style is as smooth as silk and he does it effortlessly. He can jump, move extremely well laterally, and just has the "look" of a future star at wide receiver. Has been offered by Illinois, Kansas and Penn State. There WILL be more offers. Fields will be the top wide receiver prospect in Ohio in 2008.
Two 2010 prospects showed a high skill level, in competition with players a year ahead of them.
Alliance athlete Daylin Cottle blazed a 4.53 forty yard time, one of the fastest times, and showed great lateral quickness. Cottle had a good season as a sophomore starter, and head coach Ron Kuceyeski is already getting inquiries from college recruiters. Cottle projects as a defensive back at the next level.
Youngstown Ursuline defensive end Jamel Turner is unofficially the top player in the 2010 class following a 25-sack performance as a sophomore. He didn't disappoint in the Cleveland combine. He measured 6-foot-2 and weighed 210-pounds. He ran a sub-4.7 forty and moves with great athleticism and quickness. He is also a star in the classroom. Turner has a chance to be a national recruit as a senior. He is clearly a player to keep an eye on the next two years.