NSD: The Big Ten’s Hidden Gems
Bennie Fowler
Bennie Fowler
Midwest Recruiting Analyst
Posted Feb 5, 2009


Signing Day was yesterday and many names, statistics and recruiting stories were talked about and written about all day. However, there were still some players who were overlooked. Here are the Big Ten signings we think should have gotten more attention.

The Sleepers of the Big Ten

Jack Mewhort - OT - Toledo St. Johns (Ohio)
Yeah, he's a four-star, but in a class that has a lot of star power, Mewhort's signing has not been made to be as significant as I think it should be. He's an impressive kid who has great technique and knee bend for someone his size. It would not surprise me if he ended up as one of the best players to come out of this class for the Buckeyes.

Evan Watkins - QB - Glenbard North (Ill.)
When I first saw Watkins last summer, I compared him to Ben Roethlisberger. After what Big Ben has done recently, it seems like blasphemy to compare a high school kid to him, but I do it in style only. Watkins is 6'6, 230-lbs and can throw on the move and escape the pocket, something most bigger quarterbacks cannot do.

Adam Gress - OT - West Mifflin (Pa.)
This kid was a little bit of a late bloomer. He came to our Scout combine a few years back as a 245-lb tight end. One year later, he was a 6'7, 295-lb offensive tackle and a very good one to boot. I watched him really turn it on this summer and dominate a couple of summer camps, which earned him his slew of offers. I think the Nittany Lions got a steal and a future starter here.

Thomas Gordon - S/ATH - Detroit Cass Tech (Mich.)
Cass has had some bigger names over the last couple years, but ask their opponents who they feared the most on gameday and a lot of them will tell you it was Gordon. A good athlete with a college ready body, he showed as a senior that he could make the transition from quarterback to safety. However, with the way Rich Rodriguez plays offense, don't be surprised to see him on O in certain pacakges either.

Bennie Fowler - WR - Detroit Country Day (Mich.)
A couple of people who have seen Bennie play basketball recently were shocked at how athletic he is. "A freak," they called him. Having watched him play football, it was not a surprise to me as Bennie has 4.3 speed and a world of natural ability. Still learning the wide receiver position, all his best days are ahead of him and I think the Spartans will find different ways to get him the ball early. He's similar in some ways to Keshawn Martin who they picked up and used a lot last year.

Tommie Hopkins - DB - East St. Louis (Ill.)
Overshadowed by his East St. Louis teammates and now a couple of other defensive backs the Illini signed, I think Hopkins will eventually make a name for himself as a player a lot of schools missed out on. He isn't real big, but he hits like a truck and I was impressed with his ability in man to man coverage -- so much so, that I think some cornerback could be in his future as well.

Ishmael Aristide - WR - Orlando Evans (Fla.)
Had this kid not gotten injured, I think he would be rated higher. As it stands, he is fully recovered and ready to show the 10.7 speed is still there. He is a good athlete who can make things happen after the catch and that is ideal for the Boilermaker offense. I think a redshirt year is likely as he gets back into the swing of things, but down the line I see him as a dangerous option at receiver and kick returner.

Nick Zachery - DB/ATH - Sheridan (Ind.)
How does one of the most productive players in the state of Indiana's history go this unnoticed? Well, Zachery did play at a smaller school, but shined bright on big stages, leading his team to four state title game appearances and winning three of them. He is a really good athlete who has shown excellent ball skills on defense and concentrating on playing just one position should allow him to make a smooth transition.

Kenny Watkins - CB/S - Birmingham Brother Rice (Mich.)
Had Watkins not missed much of his junior year with mononucleosis, I think he would have been more of a household name. At 6'0, 200-lbs, he has excellent size and his 4.4 speed means he can play both cornerback and safety. Assuming he comes in and picks things up quickly, I believe he has a chance for early time in the Twin Cities.

Dakota Getz - TE/ATH - Macon Meridian (Ill.)
The kid was incredibly productive as a high school player and could project to a number of spots for the Hawkeyes. His best position might be at tight end, but he also has the frame and athleticism to play defensive end. He had 88 tackles and five interceptions on defense, but he has a knack for finding open field and the end zone (47 total touchdowns as a senior), which is why I think Iowa will use him on O.

Jeff Duckworth - WR - Cincinnati Princeton (Ohio)
With Kraig Appleton's late signing, Duckworth is getting overshadowed, but I think the two will compliment each other very well. There is a chance for a wide receiver or two to play early in Madison and since Duckworth does all the little things well like run routes, catch the ball consistently and simply find ways to get it done, I would not bet against him.



Related Stories
Signing Day Capsule: Thomas Gordon
 -by GoBlueWolverine.com  Feb 4, 2009
ScoutTV: Jeff Duckworth
 -by FOXSportsRecruiting.com  Jan 23, 2009
ScoutTV: Thomas Gordon Senior Video
 -by GoBlueWolverine.com  Jan 12, 2009

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S Ishmael Aristide (profile)
WR Jeff Duckworth (profile)
QB Thomas Gordon (profile)
OT Adam Gress (profile)
S Tommie Hopkins (profile)
OL Jack Mewhort (profile)
QB Evan Watkins (profile)
CB Kenny Watkins (profile)
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