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August 18, 2009

Impressions from the Road: Northeast Ohio

The Ohio high school football season is packed with major showdowns. Top schools like St. Ignatius, Elder, and Colerain play brutal schedules. So, many of these programs book scrimmages against quality opponents to tune up for the regular season grind.

Last week, Rivals.com recruiting analyst Greg Ladky attended several scrimmages, the headliner being the annual showdown between Glenville and Cardinal Mooney. The other exhibitions included Twinsburg at St. Ignatius, Revere at St. Vincent-St. Mary, Warren Harding at Solon, and Steubenville at Uniontown Lake.

Ladky breaks down the top prospects from these scrimmages:

Glenville at Cardinal Mooney

S- Latwan Anderson- Glenville- After turning in a great performance vs. Elyria Catholic from the safety spot, Anderson put on a show at wide receiver against Cardinal Mooney. He made a spectacular catch above his head along the sideline against Braylon Heard. He also made a circus one-handed catch out of bounds that drew loud applause from the crowd. At safety, he forced a fumble at the goal line on Braylon Heard.

OG- Aundrey Walker- Glenville (2011)- It is now a lot more clear why Walker is considered by the Glenville staff to be at the same level as 2009 Rivals100 prospect Marcus Hall. Walker is a gigantic 6-foot-5, 330-pound offensive lineman that punished Mooney defenders from the right guard and right tackle spots. He even showed some ability to pull, locate a defender, and put him into the ground. He had a near flawless day.

OLB/DE- Jayrone Elliott- Glenville- During a three-play stretch about midway through the scrimmage, Elliott blew up two running plays in the backfield by exploding off the snap and making a play on the ball carrier. On third play, he fought through a hold to put pressure on the quarterback and force a bad throw. Elliott still needs to get bigger to play with his hand down at the next level, but this scrimmage was additional evidence that he is a solid prospect.

RB- Toney Foster- Glenville- Once again, Foster showed he can be a homerun threat. One the scrimmage's first drive, he made a spin move and turned it into a long run. Moments later, he added a long touchdown run.

RB/CB- Braylon Heard (West Virginia commit)- Cardinal Mooney- Heard turned in a few very impressive runs, showing great acceleration and speed against a defense that typically makes opponents look slow. Heard also played cornerback, and struggled a bit in coverage against deep routes, but he did come up to make a couple of impressive tackles near the line of scrimmage.

OT- Eric Franklin- Cardinal Mooney- Franklin had a very good day for Mooney, turning in very good reps in pass protection, and in run blocking. Like Glenville's Walker, defenders seem to crumble in Franklin's hands. He is considered a bit of a project going into this season, but he looks stronger, more aggressive, and more agile. He needs to keep working on his overall agility and explosiveness off the snap, but this scrimmage was mostly positive for Franklin.

Others that impressed: CB- Christian Bryant- Glenville, S- Aaron Morris- Glenville, QB- Alex Zordich- Cardinal Mooney.

Twinsburg at St. Ignatius

LB-Scott McVey (Ohio State commit)- St. Ignatius- McVey has added some good bulk to his frame, and it appears his body has widened a bit since last year, which alleviates some of the concern about whether he has the frame and size potential to play in the box at the college level. McVey did not get too many chances to show what he can do against a pass-happy Twinsburg squad, but he used his added power on a couple of occasions to blow up blockers and disrupt plays in the backfield. Expect McVey to have another huge season for the Wildcats.

QB-Mark Myers- St. Ignatius- Myers sat behind star quarterback Andrew Holland last season. So, his recruitment has yet to take off. But he is a big, 6-foot-4 lefty with a huge arm. His most impressive play was an incomplete pass, rolling to his right, throwing the ball across his body from the opponent's 45-yard line. The ball landed about five yards beyond the back of the end zone. He completed several passes down the field, and showed quick decision-making skills. He forced a few passes, but overall, his arm-strength is very impressive.

TE-Brendan Carozzoni (Pittsburgh commit)- St. Ignatius- At this point, Carrozoni still does not have the ideal size of a tight end. But, he has made improvements to his size and strength since last season. On one drive, Carrozoni caught three passes from Myers, and also added an impressive pancake block. With Myers' ability to exploit the middle of the field with his height and arm strength, Carrozoni figures to get plenty of opportunity to do damage in the passing game this year.

LB-Jake Ryan- St. Ignatius- Ryan may end up being a defensive end at the next level. His 6-foot-3 listing may be a actually be a bit short. He looks like he is in tremendous shape, and made a few nice tackles on defense. He has the size and range to be a force for St. Ignatius this year, teaming with McVey to form a strong and mean linebacker corps.

RB-Kevin Johnson- St. Ignatius- Johnson will get far more opportunities to show what he can do this year, after being a reserve player last year for St. Ignatius. As a running back, he needs to make his decisions about when to attack the hole and move up field. He tends to dance a little too much, which means he is not utilizing his great speed. But, he has the athleticism to make an impact this season. He just needs the experience to go with it.

Others that impressed: WR- Brandon Francisco- Twinsburg, QB- Andrew Collier- Twinsburg, WR- Wayne Grant- Twinsburg (2011).

Warren Harding at Solon (*attended first hour of scrimmage)

S- Mike Dorsey (West Virginia commit)- Warren Harding - Dorsey owns the biggest hit I have seen so far this year. He lit up a Solon receiver on a screen-play, drawing a booming reaction from an impressively large group of Harding fans. Dorsey is tremendous looking physically. He is every bit of 6 feet 3 and well built. The one thing I noticed is he has a bit of a tendency to leave his feet while breaking down to make a tackle. Nonetheless, Mountaineer fans should be fired up about his commitment.

OLB- Davion Rogers (West Virginia commit)- Warren Harding - Rogers is still pretty skinny, but is clearly athletic and very rangy. He showed some agility on a short catch a reaching up the field for a 10-yard gain. He needs to improve against the run and increase his aggressiveness in taking on blockers, but as he fills in his frame, he could be a monster off the edge. He will be fun to watch develop at the college level.

WR- D.J. Williamson (Michigan commit)- Warren Harding- Speed will never be an issue with Williamson, he can really glide on the football field. He is still growing into a natural receiver, but should really benefit from having a solid passing quarterback take over at Harding, transfer Jordan Miller. Williamson also played some cornerback, and showed good ability to break on the football.

DE- Darryl Baldwin (Ohio State commit)- Solon- Baldwin did not play due to a bruised leg, but it should be noted that Baldwin has added plenty of bulk to his 6-foot-6 frame since Rivals.com AMP interviewed him in February.

Revere at St. Vincent-St. Mary (*attended first half of scrimmage)

CB- Doran Grant (2011)- St. Vincent-St. Mary- From an eye-ball standpoint, cornerback prospects don't come prettier than Doran Grant. He is a rangy 5-foot-10 prospect, well-built with long arms. He can play the position as well. He is physical, and likes to jam and disrupt receivers' routes with a solid jab to the chest. Grant's most impressive play came at quarterback - taking an option play about 70 yards for a score. He had several impressive runs as a running back as well.

Steubenville at Uniontown Lake

QB- Dwight Macon- Steubenville- The leader of Big Red's offense arguably had a more impressive day as a defensive player. Macon played cornerback, and is not shy about hitting ball carriers. He did a tremendous job fighting off blocks and making solid hits. At quarterback, Macon moved the offense with some effectiveness. But, he does not appear to have Division-I arm strength. However, Macon does a really nice job on bootlegs, locating the open receiver and getting the ball delivered quickly and accurately. He is a heck of a football player, and will find a position in college, but his lack of arm strength calls into question whether or not that position will be quarterback.

Others that impressed: CB- Najee Murray- Steubenville (2012), S/RB- Jimmy Luther- Lake (2011), QB- Ryan Christiansen- Lake.


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