23 January 2011
I want to get to that wide receiver update first. I just saw junior film of Akron Buchtel wide receiver Corey Smith. I saw his sophmore film and was skeptical about the reports he had early offers from Michigan State and North Carolina. I saw the state championship game and didn't see anything to change that opinon. That the Buckeyes were interested really surprised me. They saw his junior film before I did. He really leaps out at you. Right now he is the number two receiver on my board. He has great hands and is an explosive leaper. He is very aggressive on the ball. He is also the only receiver in the class who has answered the speed question. Smith runs away from people. In addition I can't remember a better blocking receiver in my time covering high school ecruiting in Ohio. He gets after it like a fullback. I saw him celebrate a few touchdowns but those celebrations paled in comparison to the joy he showed from peeling back and laying out defenders.
On to the tight ends. This is an impressive class. I don't know who I would rate the best in the class of 2012. I have four that stand out. With a gun to my head I would put Evan Jones from Ridgewood West Lafayette at the top of my tight end list but his advantage is he is arguably a top ten defensive line prospect too, not because he is the best tight end. With some exceptions a defensive lineman is more valuable than a tight end. Put him on defense first. If he doesn't work out there he would surely be a fine tight end. He is athletic and shows good hands. Very good blocker. Plays with a mean streak. Has a great body to fill out. The best receiver is Cleveland St. Ignatius Blake Thomas. Great hands. Very athletic and very smooth. He makes catches against his body and makes them look easy. He is fast enough and athletic enough that coach Kyle splits him out at times. He is a willing and very good blocker. Another advantage is he plays in the kind of offense that will make him ready to play tight end in a college offense immediately. Makes the kind of catches that will bring the schools where a tight end is a primary receiver in. He has a long lean body, 6-5 or 6-6 and in the 230 range. That might be something that pushes a school like Ohio State to go in another direction, like with Lakewood St. Edward tight end Sam Grant. He too is listed at 6-6 230 but he looks like a bigger framed kid and is like having another tackle in there as a blocker. What makes him so appealing is he is a very good receiver. Catches the ball naturally and shows good athleticism.
The other tight end I see as a cut above is Moeller's John Tanner. Tanner is another long kid with a good frame and plays very nasty, which of course means I love him. His motor is on overdrive from the opening kick to the final gun. What I see with Tanner is balance. He catches the ball very well and he blocks very well. Tanner is such a good defensive end that he is an offer player on that side of the ball but where he jumps out at me is at tight end. All four of these players are Big Five offers. Jones small school competition may push him to need camps and combines to get those offers but I am confident he can earn Big Five offers.
I have to mention Cincinnati Sycamore's A.J. Williams. I know Mark Porter is grinning seeing his name come up as we don't quite know what to do with him. He plays tight end at 6-6 255 but blocks like a tackle. The thing is he is so athletic you have to want a guy like this at tight end. You have a third tackle on the field at all times without giving up a weapon in the passing game. We have no idea whether he can catch the ball though. On a 4 minute highlight reel he only catches one ball. He is the one with the offers. Blake Thomas has a reported offer from Toledo. So does Williams but he also has Bowling Green and Ohio U.
That is not all in this class. There are several others. I will go so far as to say the only class I have seen that was better in the state of Ohio was the 2008 class with Kyle Rudolph, Kevin Kroger, Brandon More and Nic Dilillo. Canfield's Jimmy Rousher may be a better defensive lineman but I could see some schools deciding they like him at tight end, especially in an offense where blocking is the priority. Rousher is like having another tackle in there but one that runs very well for his size and catches the ball naturally. The thing is he is likely to be a more highly recruited defensive lineman because of the fact that he runs so well and is already in the 250 lb range. I think it likely he blows right past defensive end and goes right down to tackle.
Craig Runyan from Marysville is a very good receiver. He is a not ideal sized. He may have to play that H-Back role. The same with Tanner Kearns from Lexington. They may never be big enough to be inline blocking tight ends but for a school that uses the H-back I see a couple of great receivers who are athletic enough to split out but are big enough to block linebackers on the edge and get out in space and block.
I am looking forward to seeing junior film of Piqua's Jordan Fesser. I like what I saw of him as a sophmore.
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