North-South thoughts

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Last updated: 04/22/2011 8:35 PM
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Thoughts from BCast on the North-South Game
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — After last year’s MVP performance by Ohio State-bound Verlon Reed, it was almost expected that a future Buckeye would capture the MVP trophy in Friday’s North-South Classic.

Massillon Washington receiver Devin Smith did catch a 26-yard touchdown pass for the North all-stars, but the MVP award went to Tyler Williams, who helped the South squad to a 25-7 win at Ohio Stadium.

Without Ohio’s Mr. Football, Akise Teague, who was a late scratch from the game, Williams was easily the fastest player on the field. The 5-7 receiver is headed to Akron University this fall, but the Cincinnati Colerain product scored both of his touchdowns out of the wildcat formation.


One reason the South team was able to have so much success running the football was the fact they made sure to run away from Ohio State-bound defensive end Steve Miller. The 6-4, 242-pounder out of Canton McKinley was easily the biggest playmaker for the North defense, and South coach Jason Krause made sure to know where he was on every play.

“It’s kind of tough when they’re running away from you a lot,” said Miller, a four-star prospect who could see immediate playing time for the Buckeyes.

 “I was trying out there too. They were double-teaming a lot too.”

Despite that double-team, Miller still had an impact on the game. He had a couple of nice pressures and forced a couple of throwaways on third down, including a 3rd-and-12 situation in the red zone. He showed good technique staying home on some of the misdirection plays, which Miller said they weren’t prepared to defend.

Analysis: Overall, Miller looked like a very good prospect, but probably not a guy who walks in and dominates from the start. It will take him a year or two, but Miller looks to be a great get for the Buckeyes.


The best player on the other side of the ball for the North squad was wideout Devin Smith. One of two receivers in Ohio State’s 2011 class, Smith said coming into the game that he wanted to show he could make big plays. The 6-3, 185-pound receiver did just that Friday night. Much like last year, the North did not throw the ball nearly enough, especially after they fell behind by two touchdowns.

Fortunately for Smith, they managed to target him a few times, unlike T.Y. Williams in last year’s game. Smith did a great job getting behind the defense on a post route for his 26-yard touchdown catch in the north end zone of the Horseshoe.

“My main focus that I wanted to do coming into this game was catching a touchdown,” Smith said.

“I wanted to show everyone that came out tonight that I can play football.”

Smith nearly came up with his second touchdown catch of the game in the second half after he got behind cornerback Chris Dukes on a jump ball, but quarterback Connor Cook underthrew the pass and it hit Dukes in the back.

With time ticking down, Smith made what might have been his best play of the day, laying out for a ball near midfield. He had a defender on him and bobbled the ball, but held on for a highlight real catch. He finished the game with three catches for 68 yards and was the South Offensive MVP.

Analysis: Ohio State fans have to be encouraged by Smith’s performance Friday night. His team didn’t get the win, but Smith played very well, especially considering his limited opportunities to catch the ball. Sometimes it’s hard to gauge a player's performance because some of the other players are headed for Division II schools like Tiffin or Mercyhurst, but Smith matched up against Northwestern-bound Nick Vanhoose for most of the night.


Much like they did with Miller, the South squad seemed determined to stay away from Doran Grant in this game. It appears like Krause approached this all-star game the way he would any normal game, which meant only a few passes in the direction of Grant, a four-star corner out of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary.

Grant did have a 15-yard facemask penalty on the first drive of the game after he dragged running back Jayshon Jackson to the ground on a screen play. Grant had a couple of nice legal takedowns in the game, but with as much as they were running out of the wildcat, the South team didn’t throw the ball a lot Friday. They did target tight end Nick Vannett a few times down the field, but Grant was there to make a play on a couple of them.

According to the box score, Grant also carried the ball once for three yards.

Analysis:  It was hard to get much of a read on Grant tonight, but it says something that Krause did not want to throw the ball in his direction. He is said to have great ball skills and hands, which is probably why they didn’t want to give him an opportunities to swing the game. The one thing he showed tonight was that he’s not afraid to get involved as a tackler. He doesn’t have the best form yet, but he will bring the ball carrier down by whatever means necessary.


Vannett admitted after the game that Bryant got the better of him a couple times, but that doesn’t mean he was shutout. The Westerville Central product hauled in a 16-yard catch early in the second half and then made a great play to come up with a ball in the end zone for a two-point conversion.

“I had like five guys around me, so I don’t know how I caught it but I did,” said the 6-6, 240-pound tight end.

“I just concentrated on the ball and brought it in.”

Vannett also did a lot of blocking Friday, and said he was often involved in the double-team on Steve Miller.

Analysis: Vannett said that his blocking needs some work, but that’s not why he’s being brought to Ohio State. Everyone who plays tight end for the Buckeyes needs to know how to block, but it’s clear that Vannett has the hands and speed to be a weapon in the passing game. He believes the Buckeyes will get the tight ends more involved this year, and that could open the door for someone like Vannett or Jeff Heuerman to get on the field, especially if they start splitting Jake Stoneburner out wide more often.


Farris definitely passes the look test, but he wasn’t much of a factor in Friday’s game despite the fact the South team was often running the ball in his direction. He had a chance to make a big play in the backfield early on, but whiffed on Jayshon Jackson. He picked up an offsetting personal foul penalty and seemed to be around the ball most of the day, but didn’t come away with many tackles.

Analysis: Right now, Farris relies too much on instincts. “See ball, get ball” is what he told me this week and that seems to be exactly how he plays. He doesn't have a lot of technique yet or ability to read plays, but he's big and strong and gives good effort. He tends to get up field a little too quickly before he realizes where the play is headed, but he showed some toughness and some nastiness in the game, which is what you want to see from a defensive lineman.

Game Box Score and Stats

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