Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Jalin Marshall - Middletown

In this business of evaluating players, I feel like I have to know alittle about the personality of the prospects that I evaluate. I try to chat with many of them about anything and everything. No, I do not ask them about college choices and I do not blow smoke up their nose. For me, trying to get the inside scoop on a recruit, would make me feel funny. I leave that to the recruiting writers, because they have to please the internet recruiting sites. However, verbally I do tell college coaches about a prospect's attitude.

I met QB Jalin Marshall(213) from Middletown at the high school last spring. A first class act!!! Probably spent about 10 minutes with him. This summer we talked again at a 7on7 tournament. I just got off the phone with him a few minutes ago. I congratulated him on the Middies victory over Wayne. I was at the game. But I really wanted some insight to Jalin as a student.

Jalin Marshall will be one of the top five recruits in his Class of 213. Period. His desire is to be a QB on the next level. He should go for it. As I told the colleges in my evaluation- changes direction really, excellent burst, durable, stronger after first hit, and never loses speed when making a cut. No secret to him, I feel he can be a quarterback, but he is also one of the top pure athletes in his Class of 213. At 6'0-190, he would also look good at RB or as a FS. Just a thought.

I talked with him on how he handles the pressure of the playing the game. He listens to music, talks with his parents, talks with his older brother, and focuses on other things. How does he handle early big time recognition? Team comes first. I believe him. Last year they were good, but lost at the end. This year he said that that cannot happen. By the way, he must spend alittle time at the library. Carrying a 4.0 GPA and taking pre-algebra and Spanish IV. Impressive in this day and age.

As I used to tell Braxton Miller, please do not change. There are enough "TP's" out there. Young people need good leaders. Jalin, please do not change!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Adolphus Washington - Big Time Motor

Yesterday, I had the chance to watch DE Adolphus Washington from Cincinnati Taft do his thing against excellent competition, and he put on a show. His effort, as well as the entire Taft team against a bigger, stronger Washington DC team was unreal.

When I watch players, there is so much that goes into an evaluation. Strength of competition is one. A player's motor is one. A player's instincts is one. Player's potential to improve over the next three years is one. Can a player start for the best team in Ohio is one. Of course, the eyeball test is another. Lastly, character is huge for me.

The "Diesel" can play for any school and play well. Before this game, I thought that he was a national recruit as an athlete, and a Midwest recruit as a football player. His motor never stops running. He plays fast and finishes plays. On one play in the fourth quarter, he ran a RB down from the other side of the field. Late in the game, he had a QB sack. He finds the ball, gets off blocks, and makes tackles. Uses his hands really well to separate. Plays pad under pad. Natural at dropping inside shoulder on pass rush. Toughness to play inside shade of TE.

His dad reminded me that I once told him that when Adolphus was a sophomore that he was the best in his 212 Class. That was against Dunbar, not Friendship HS. I never knew how well he would play against top competition. Last summer in camp, he ran well, had the burst, and changed direction. I would be very selective in offering a prospect just because he does well in shorts and t-shirt. Yesterday, I saw him for real and he was excellent.

Although he is a defender, he has excellent ball catching skills. Solid blocker with soft hands.

Finally, he is no chest beater, no head-bopper, and no excessive celebration showtime guy. He plays every play and finishes plays. Adolphus was as strong in the fourth quarter as he was in the first. One time late in the game he showed some emotion. His actions did his "chirping."

Might see him one more time this year, but really like what I saw Sunday afternoon. Obviously, one of the top five recruits in the Class of 212.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Massillon Football

My plans were to be in Cincinnati last night watching high school football as part of the Crosstown Showdown. With the situation with my lab, those plans were derailed. Since Massillon is only a 90 minute drive, and I respect the coaching of Jason Hall, I was a Tiger for the night. I will see them next week against Canton GlenOak. Last night was an "enjoy the game," night.

I sat in the stands, which is almost always a no-no. The stands were full. I mean every type of fan must have walked up the aisle pass me. Some guys looked like they played at Massillon 60 years ago. Red-necks, business professionals, factory workers all came up the aisle. Women of all ages and sizes. Kids(I sat near the student section). College students and former players. Young parents with really young children. Young parents with really old parents. There many Tiger fans on the other side. The place was packed for an opening game with Akron Buchtel.

Orange and black clothing everywhere. Old football jerseys. T-shirts. Golf shirts. Cloth that people must wear just for football. Very little O-State clothing.

The scoreboard now shows individual pictures of the starters as they are introduced. Offense one night; defense the next night. I realize that there are big bucks involved, but the scoreboard is good. Huge pictures of former Massillon coaches on the outside of the stadium. Championship banners on the inside.

A huge tiger balloon held down with ropes was in the background. Of course, a small tiger was on the sideline, in his cage.

Outstanding band, epecially the percussion unit, performed before the game and halftime.

Did not take notes. Left at halftime. Just a relaxing night. I will tell you that Coach Hall has a big tackle (Class of 214) and two corners (Class of 213) that are going to be special. Too early, but I like their freshman kicker, too.

Next week against GlenOak, back on the sidelines, taking notes, and evaluating players on both teams.

Massillon's tradition is much more than I ever dreamed it would be.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

My Labrador - Mary

Not a football article, but wanted to take a minute to make excuses for not blogging as much as I should. Have been traveling and evaluating high school talent. Have visited five college football practices. Have been to a Brown's practice. Have just spent a weekend with my father-in-law and his wife in Syracuse. Most importantly of all, have been dealing with illness of my 11 and 1/2 years old yellow labrador.

Mary has cushings disease. She craves water and can control her bladder. Went off her medication two weeks ago. Pills to keep her going are astronomical in price. NO cure. Just made an appointment for today to have put to sleep. My vet told me to bring her in, when she still waggles her tail. Last night she could barely walk. She walked a little better this morning, but she wagged her tail. I really believe in the "quality of life." Taking her to the vet about 2:00this afternoon.

Back on the football side, heading to Canton Glen Oak tonight. Looking forward to watching Akron Firestone and Glen Oak do battle. On to the Crosstown Showdown this weekend.

Finally, the movie "Marley and Me" is fantastic. Needless to say, a movie "Mary and Me" would be just as good, but I am going to stay with scouting and evaluating high school football players. Ron Howard, I am not.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Good-bye "TP"

Just arrived home from Syracuse last night and really had not heard the good news about Pryor leaving not only Ohio, but the entire Midwest. Read the Dispatch this morning over coffee and found out more.

"TP" was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the third round in the supplemental draft. Surprised me with the excellent draft history of the Raiders. (sarcasm) But then I remembered that the Raiders took the highly touted JaMarcus Russell with the overall number one pick a few years ago.(sarcasm) I just evaluate high school players, but I wish college and pro coaches shoulld quit worrying about the media perception and pressure and just recruit or draft players as they value them.

I do not know much about out-of-state high school players, but I did see a clip on "TP." Obviously, I knew he was not a passer. Saw him as a freshman at O-State and knew he was a thrower, not a passer. Honestly, despite all of the hopeful talk, knew that you would or could not change his delivery and release. Tremendous athlete, no question. The biggest strength a pro QB needs is intelligence. "TP" could not read defenses at OSU and now he will at Oakland?

Now that he has a team, next he will appeal the strictions Commissioner Roger Goodell laid out. Wow, that surprises me that he would do that. I thought he would follow the rules.

I never met "TP," but I am really glad that he is out of Ohio. I read newspapers that cover Ohio sports. Hopefully, covering him now will be down to a minimum. Probably the saddest thing is that his track record that he set was not all his fault. Being a "kids' guy," I wish him well and hope that the "light comes on," someday.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Tyler Grassman - Gahanna HS

Last Thursday evening, I may have seen one of the most versatile, athletic kickers that I have evaluated in recent years. Tyler Grassman (212) from Gahanna Lincoln High School did a little of everything.

First, as the back-up QB, he broke a 50+ yard TD run against the first team defense of Coffman. After the TD, he kicked the PAT. Then he kicked off and the ball went into the endzone. From there he went to free safety with Gahanna's ones. Later, he punted the ball high and dropped it on the 7 yard line. His next punt was high and long. I was expecting him to be one of the front five on the kickoff return team.

Although he did so many things and is so athletic, his ticket is punting and kicking. He has a strong leg and listed 6'0-185. Back in the old days, colleges really liked athletic kickers who could play a position. Coaches thought those types of kickers were a little more competitive and, could also play a position in practice.

I knew about him as a kicker/punter, but did realize just how versatile he is as a complete player. There are not too many Tyler Grassman's in Ohio doing all the things he does, and I might add, doing them so well. Woody would have been excited!

Marcus Davis - REC - Dublin Coffman

Thursday evening had a chance to watch WR Marcus Davis(212) from Dublin Coffman show his skills. He did nothing to lessen my respect for him. In fact, he continues to impress me.

First saw Marcus his sophomore year when he was playing for Olentangy Liberty. The game happened to be the Herbstreit. The only offense Liberty had at the time. Marcus made some really acrobatic catches. However, he had no burst, no foot speed, and no strength, but he had excellent ball skills. The other problem was his uncle, the legendary Chris Carter, was on the sidelines offering advice all of the time. Alot of pressure for a sophomore in front of a good sized crowd.

Next saw Marcus his junior year at the State 7on7 at Dublin. He had since transferred to Dublin Coffman. Same ball catching skills. Same lack of burst and speed, but getting better. Improved body strength. Did not see Marcus in game competition last year, but watched his video.

Last Thursday, Marcus was doing the same as always with regard to catching the ball. But his speed and strength have improved greatly. Caught two TD passes. On one catch he had to adjust by turning his shoulder from the outside to the inside and then caught the ball over his head. The other TD pass was a post pattern with 30 seconds to go in the half. Nothing surprises me with him!

Although I really like him as a slot receiver, I constantly remind him "faster-stronger." He has worked hard to improve in the off season. The offense struggled some the other night, but with some game experience, the young QB will be fine. Marcus will always catch the ball, and will be faster-stronger.

For some reason, colleges are not believing in him, like I think that they should. But I am used to that. After this season, Marcus Davis will be one of those guys whom the recruiting writers label "under the radar." I am used to that, too. When he is 20 years old, he will be contributing at the next level.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Nick Peyakov - QB at Akron Manchester

Last Thursday, I made the trip to Akron Manchester to watch OC Tim Matteo and junior QB Nick Peyakov. First saw both of them last fall at a playoff game in Ravenna. Think that West Virginia stole Matteo from Ohio. Potential to be a very good lineman at WVU. Really wanted to evaluate QB prospect Nick Peyakov(213).

Last year I arrived at half time and did not see Nick in pregame. Actually watched him warm-up on the sidelines to start the second half. Good footwork and liked his release. Saw him at the Ohio State Camp this summer. Honestly, he struggled some. More nerves than anything else. Did not throw with any zip or rpm. Ball just did not spin. Still liked his feet. Still liked his potential.

Last Thursday came away impressed. Still has to get stronger and continue to develop arm strength. Confidence is gaining and seems to understand the passing scheme. Always like his footwork and release. Nick makes plays and finds open receivers. Nick will not "wow me" in warm-ups and drills. But in the game, he gets it done. Makes plays and completes passes. Comes up under center and takes direct snaps, which is a plus. Call him a "gamer."

Needs reps, but has a bright future. Love his QB instincts. As he gets bigger and stronger, he will continue to get better. His QB coach is excellent.

Three SW Ohio Linemen in 2013 Class

Last Saturday, Lakota West and Springboro were part of a four-way scrimmage at Springboro. Since I will see Lakota West and Wayne in two weeks, I spent more time watching Springboro and Dayton C-J. OL Kyle Meadows(213) from Lakota West and OL Sean Welsh(213) both have huge potential, but bring contrasting styles. Darrien Howard(213) is still working hard at MLB. Lovell Peterson played some DT.

Kyle Meadows is 6'6-265 and long. Athletic. Good feet and moves well. Good first step. Plays left tackle and gets out on pass protection. Gets hands on defenders. Needs to be a better bender. Also, needs to develop a better punch. Potential to add much weight and strength. A top guy for me.

Sean Welsh is listed at 6'3-250. More compact. Could not get a good evaluation, because of a leg problem. Uses his weight well. Needs to be better bender. Like his potential, but will probably move inside. Concern about feet on pass protection. Did well at a camp this summer. A top ten OL guy.

Darrien Howard listed at 6'2-235 continues to work hard at Middle Backer. Lost some weight and really working on speed. Needs to better getting off blocks and finding ball. Plays low. Good athleticism. I think he has a future at Mike, but must continue to work hard.

Lovell Peterson played some DT and looked good. The best center prospect in his Ohio class of 213. A top five OL guy. As a defender, looks strong and has a burst. Powerful hands to separate from blocker. Gets pad under pad. Could be one of the better D-line guys by season's end.

Early to really evaluate, but these four are loaded with potential.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Marion Franklin, Olentangy, Lancaster, and Kenton Scrimmage

The football scrimmage at Olentangy was everything that I thought it would and more. Each team scrimmaged three times nad against each team present. A knock down affair. In fact, in the last scrimmage, teams were so tired that little was accomplished as far as evaluating. Each team had some very good college prospects.

LB Luke Roberts(212) played well for first time contact. Bigger, stronger, and faster than last year. Fills well. Keeps shoulders square to LOS. Finishes tackles. Stays on his feet. Good LB instincts. DE/DT Aaron Woosley(212) also has added some weight. Like his quickness off LOS. Gets off blocks. Runs well. Eventually look to see him move inside at the next level. Like his athleticism. TE Ryan Thomas(213) caught my attention. Looks at least 6'4. Solid blocker, but will get better with more weight and strength. Long. Get into pass routes well. Lancaster ran the ball most of the time and did not see him catch the ball.

Marion Franklin
QB Corey Benson(213) did a nice job at quarterback. Ability to make plays. Good burst. Has some shake. Throws good ball at times. Do not know if he is a QB at next level, but he is a football player. Really good athlete. OL Damon Dilliard(213) needs to play better. Like his potential, but needs to run better and move his feet. Actually was better at DT on this day. Dissappointed in another DT for M-F. As a junior, thought he was one of the better ones in the state last year. This year-different story. Did not play hard every play. Actually took plays off. Did not take over. Much better than he showed. Hope that he took my advice.

Josh Perry(212) is very athletic and runs well. Needs to change direction better. Played mostly DE, but did move to OLB at times. Pursued well at times. Needs to be better at finding the ball. One team ran away from the entire scrimmage. On the next level, he will need to find his postition. Probably an edge player. OL Kenton Placo(212) was solid at left tackle. Still growing and getting stronger. Good base blocker. Needs to develop a punch. Needs to be more explosive at times. Good frame.
Hard to evaluate CB Buchi Okafor(213) in this scrimmage. Did not get much his way. Better on run support than I expected. Like his hip rotation. Excellent recovery speed. Like his CB instincts. Another junior, OL Austin Schmidt(213) was solid for first contact. Frame to add weight. Must get stronger, but will. Good feet. Listed 6'5- 245. Like his potential, but must improve.

QB Maty Mauk(212) showed why he is the best QB in his class. Threw mostly short passes. Ran the ball (out of necessity) well. Fast in open field. Strong arm. Quick release. Took a beating in this scrimmage. As always, he just kept coming back. Thought his release was more consistent than in past years. DE Issac Jeffers(212) played well. Strong and gets off blocks well. Listed 6'4. Very quick coming off the edge at times. Big frame to add weight. Should be a scholarship player. DB Brice Fackler(212) did well at free safety. Smart and understands coverages. Long. Comes up well on run support. Needs to get faster.

Good scrimmage for everyone. Actually had a college call asking about the scrimmage.

Congrats to a New Clinic Sponsor

Since I work closely with the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association in the recruiting area and the OHSFCA endorses my camps and combines, seeing new sponsors added to the OHSFCA Clinic is always good. has stepped up this spring as one of the bigger sponsors. The clinic is considered by many as one of the largest high school clinics in the country. JJ Huddle and Scouting Ohio are also a part of Anytime we have a chance to promote the tremendous sport of high school football in Ohio, is a positive. Sponsors like really help make the clinic one of the best in the country.

Springfield - Marion Harding scrimmage

Since Marion is only twenty minutes away, I watched their scrimmage with Springfield yesterday morning. Wanted to watch a local senior who plays for Harding. Wanted to watch some of the Springfield players who attended my football camp at Dublin Scioto. Also wanted to watch my friend John Cupps, the new coach at Marion Harding.

Marion Harding LB Aaron Gabriel(212) lives in Upper Sandusky but plays for Marion Harding. A undersized LB, but plays with a ton of emotion. Like the way he fills and runs to the ball. Closes well, but needs to continue to get faster. Tough competitor.

Renewed my friendship with Springfield's RB Onslow Williams(212). First watched him play against Trotwood Madison when he was a freshman. Plays both ways, but really hope that he blossoms as a runningback. Like his burst at the LOS. Only 5'9, but 185 pounds. Deceptive speed. Durable. Should have a really good year. DE Darius James(212) played as a sophomore and returns to his DE position. Deceptive speed off the edge. Closes well. Stays on his feet. Also plays some TE.

Four players who came to my underclassmen camp all played and played well.

QB Chris Wallace(213) alternated at QB, but will be the starter, is stronger and quicker than last year. Smart and made some good decisions. Measured 6'0-180 at camp. Quick release, but needs to bring his thumb to his pocket on follow through. Sprints out and can throw effectively on the run to either side. Good feet, good hips. Can tuck the ball and run. Only get better.

WR Thaddeus Snodgrass(214) has a bright future. Measured 6'1-185 at my camp. Ran a 4.5 at my camp. Explosive and will go over the middle. Like his ball catching skills. Blocks well for a sophomore. Wide receiver instincts. Believe WR's need to have that certain swagger, but Thaddeus is already on the edge. One of best in his class.

LB Davonte James(214) is the younger brother of Darius. Natural linebacker. Strong and plays under control. Measured 6'2-210. Might be bigger now. Excellent closing speed. Finishes tackles. Linebacker instincts are good. Needs to increase overall speed. Also plays QB. Needs to get in better condition. One of best LB's in his class.

RB/FS Corey Timmons(213) transferred from a smaller private school this summer. Like his size. 6'1-195. Deceptive quickness. A long strider with good speed. Like his hips and burst. Broad jumped 9'4 at my camp. Plays both RB and FS. Evetually may be a defensive player. Closes on ball well. Potential get bigger and stronger. Excellent future.

Also spent a few moments with new Springfield assistant coach Andy Helms. Former head coach at C-J. Excellent teacher and will work with QB's.

Marion Harding has a young RB whom I really like. Saw him at OSU Camp. He took a beating yesterday, but kept coming back. Tough competitor. Watch for LJ Scott this fall.

Both programs are young with new head coaches, but are headed in the right direction.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Three Day Weekend - Vacation

Have been able to visit four high school camps this week. Scrimmages begin next week. Already looking forward to August 24 in Cincinnati. With all of that in mind, leaving for Pokagon State Park in Indiana. My family spent many good times there for many years. Back to begin the serious work next Monday.

Need to get my column "Around the State" up and running soon. Still trying to decide how to balance my blog and the column. My "web guy"and I will be redoing my website this month. Still like the video set-up. Anyway, I will worry about that after this weekend.

Of course, I need to get some high school football today, so I am going to visit my Upper Sandusky Rams practice l;ate this afternoon. They have a good young sophomore.

Just listen to Nick Saban's comments about "message boards on the internet." "All a bunch of BS," he said. I agree, but the sad thing is that message boards, as well as internet recruiting writers, are not going to go away. There are some very good informative writers, but very few good evaluators.

Take care and enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cleveland St Ignatius Practice

Amazing is the way I would describe the St Ignatius football practice. In one word "amazing." So much teaching going on. So much organization. So many players. Talked with Head Coach Chuck Kyle for a few minutes and was, also, able to chat with my friend, top assistant Nick Restifo. I would have not expected anything less, Coach Kyle was "into" practice, even correcting his punters during special teams practice.

O-State recruit Blake Thomas looked solid at tight end. Strong and really like the way he releases on pass routes. No pads, so I did not see him at his strength-- run blocking. Talked with him about how media keep questioning him about changing his verbal. As we agreed, "Ohio State is Ohio State."

Transfer senior Eric Williams, from Portland, Oregon threw the ball well. Guessing 6'1-190, he has good pocket presence and throws well on the run. Like his leadership skills. Just needs to get to know his receivers and get comfortable in the St Ignatius passing game. Played for a team who concentrated on the running game. Will be alright.

Mike Svetina, strong safety, headed to Miami, is getting bigger and bigger. Runs well and really his defensive mentality. Again no pads, but he is an intelligent, tough guy who will strike you.

Another McVey at Ignatius. Tim McVey (Ohio Class of 2013) played alot last year, until he was injured. Ran track last spring, after an excellent indoor season. Being counted on to play both ways. Not great size, but fast, strong, quick, and, most of all, tough. Excellent attitude.

St Ignatius has some really promising sophomores, but their time will come. Quite possible some will see playing time later in the season. Now that is my uneducated guess, but too early for a veteran coach like Coach Kyle to make that decision.

Another highlight of the camp was visiting with my retired Plain Dealer sports-writer friend, Eddie Dwyer. He even remembers my old magazines of 20+ years ago. A book of high school sports knowledge, he now works with Iggie football. Really helped put a name with the face.

Like many of the "big school" programs throughout the state, St Ignatius had more kids in one group, than some schools do on their whole team. Fun time for me and, yes, I did evaluate some really good prospects. Keep on eye on some of the sophomores, especially an offensive lineman.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Chuck Kyle - St Ignatius Football Coach

Tomorrow I will be in Cleveland doing some evaluating and am looking forward to seeing my good friend, Chuck Kyle, head football coach at St Ignatius High School. Our relationship dates back over twenty years. Times have changed with internet media recruiting and college coaches wanting information sooner and sooner, but Chuck and my relationship never changes. Always good.

One of my first dealings with Coach Kyle was with the selection of the "Big 33" team years ago. The first year of the series Ohio had some key players select not to play. Back then the North/South and the "Big 33" were almost back to back. That first year Ohio was really hammered. The second year Coach Kyle was selected to be the head coach. When he called and asked for my imput, he told me that he was playing to win and no politics. Together we were able to select and get commitments from some really good players. We won.

Coach Kyle teaches English classes, as did I for many years. Teaching English and being both the head football coach and head track coach is huge. Not the norm, in this day and age. By the way, he does not teach "bonehead" English classes. No such thing at Ignatius. Also, he is successful at all three positions.

From the old school, but he has changed with the times. Shows his players respect, but still has that fire to get his point across. High energy level whether coaching football or track. I do not know how many state championships he has won, but he is always the same Chuck Kyle. I really appreciate the fact that his success never goes to his head. I usually call him at home, and always takes time to discuss not only his prospects, but life in general.

Looking forward to watching St. Ignatius practice. They have a ton of players wanting to be part of the tradition of St Ignatius football. Nice thing for me is that they have some really good young prospects to evaluate. Of course. looking forward, just as well, to visiting my good friend.

Chris Wormley - A Michigan Verbal

Read in the Blade that Toledo Whitmer's Chris Wormley(DE) verbaled to Michigan last night. Although he listed other schools, Chris has, for the most part, been a "Michigan guy" all along. Most coaches were aware of that from the beginning, including Ohio State and Notre Dame.

I blogged Chris back in May and nothing has changed. Long and can get off blocks and get up field. He will make his money playing inside. Okay as a defensive end, but will grow and move inside. Gets pad under pad. Good leverage. Being a three sport guy, athleticism and size have gotten him a long ways. Once he gets into a college strength program, he will develop his upper body strength.

Chris is a quiet guy. Some take that as a "cockiness," or lack of enthusiasm, but not so, just quiet. I have watched him play basketball, track, and football. Also watched him at an OSU camp. State ranked shot and discus competitor. Not a "rah-rah guy," but very consistent.

Like with many prospects he is not a finished product and has much upside. Best football is ahead. Needs to dominate some games against bigger competition, and not just against some of the smaller programs in the Toledo area. Did see him against Massillon in the playoffs. More than held his own, and Massillon is a pretty good program.

If you read the older blog, you know I like him. Looking forward to seeing him play this fall.