Recruiting Rundown -- Thoughts On Thursday's Under Armour High School All-American Game
By Tony Gerdeman
The third of the four major high school All-American games aired on ESPN Thursday night and it featured a number of prospects of interest to Buckeye fans.
Most notably among those prospects was lone Ohio State commit defensive end Noah Spence (6-4 245). Spence was an absolute force during the game when he wasn't being held, which he usually was.
While I don't know if the 6-4 245 part is correct, because he looks a little bit smaller than that, what can't be questioned is his speed and pursuit.
Even though his team lost 49-16, it was not the fault of Spence, who was credited with three sacks and four tackles for loss.
He also forced a fumble when quarterback Jameis Winston ran the zone read against him and Spence nearly stole the ball straight from Winston's grasp in the backfield. Instead he simply knocked the ball out of Winston's hands, but the quarterback quickly recovered the fumble.
Maybe his most impressive play came on a fourth and one from the one-yard line. Winston ran the quarterback sneak, bounced it outside a bit, and ran right into Spence's arms. Spence was able to not only stop him, but he did it by pulling him backwards. While I question his size, there was certainly no questioning his strength on that play.
Really, the only answer the opposing offensive line had for Spence's speed rush was to hope he overran the quarterback, and even when he did, he was still able to reverse field and make a play.
He also hit a quarterback on a release, resulting in an interception. All this despite being held more than a newborn in a house full of women.
Other players of interest for Buckeye fans were receiver Davonte Neal (5-10 170), offensive lineman Joey O'Connor (6-4 280), linebacker Dalton Santos (6-2 240) and quarterback Jameis Winston (6-3 190).
Neal, from Chaparral, Arizona, worked at both cornerback and receiver during the practice week, but played receiver and returned kicks Thursday night. There was even talk before the game that he might show up at running back, which never really happened. He did have a three-yard touchdown catch from the slot late in the game.
Despite his size, he looked like a pretty physical player, peeling back to block on a flanker screen for a teammate. He is the type of player that has plays designed for him, and he can get the ball from any angle.
Neal has been one of the fastest high schoolers in the nation since his first day as a freshman, so he certainly fits the speed aspect that Urban Meyer will be looking for.
He has only visited Notre Dame to this point, but has a visit to Arkansas scheduled next weekend, and then he will visit Ohio State the weekend of January 20th.
O'Connor, the former Penn State commit from Windsor, Colorado, still doesn't have an Ohio State offer. If things go well for the Buckeyes with the linemen they're already in on, then he probably won't get one.
He is scheduled to visit Ohio State next weekend, though. An offer at that time would likely indicate that they won't be landing one of the two or three linemen that they most covet.
O'Connor played guard in this game and looked good doing it. He didn't get beat for any negative plays that I saw, but did get thrown down a time or two.
Linebacker Dalton Santos has appeared just in the last week or two on Ohio State's radar. Currently listed as a Tennessee commit from Texas, Santos is now looking to take visits since Steve Sarkisian came in and hired a couple of Tennessee's defensive assistants, and Ohio State is one of the schools he wants to see.
He appears to be a pretty stout run stopper, and given his 240-pound frame, this shouldn't be a surprise. I don't know how well he runs based on this game alone (Rivals lists his 40 time as 4.65), but he certainly brings a load with him when he gets there.
The final player with an interest in Ohio State was the game's MVP, quarterback Jameis Winston from Hueytown, Alabama.
Winston is currently a Florida State commit, but has said he plans to take a visit to Ohio State, possibly in a couple of weeks.
He started out this game a bit timid, in my opinion, but given the amount of defensive line talent in this game, it was understaudable.
He finished 8-9 passing for 178 yards and two touchdowns. He has very good mobility, but didn't appear to be a dynamic runner like Terrelle Pryor or Braxton Miller. Rather, he looked like the kind of quarterback who can keep plays alive, as well as pick up necessary yards on scrambles.
He is still a very long shot, and even thinking he could end up in Scarlet and Gray is a pipe dream for fans, but recruiting is about to pick back up again and we've seen what that means with Urban Meyer in town.
Other Players of Note
Michigan was the only other Big Ten school with commits who played in this game. Linebacker Joe Bolden (6-2 225) from Cincinnati Colerain got the start, and made a play in the backfield very early on.
He had a few other plays here and there, but there wasn't exactly a lot of between the tackle offense to get a real sense for what he can do. He was raved about all week in practices, so it's not hard to imagine him being in Michigan's two deep next season the moment he enrolls.
Conversely, cornerback Terry Richardson (5-9 160) from Cass Tech in Michigan had a rough night. He was beaten deep a couple of times for touchdowns, though one was waved off for offensive pass interference.
His real issues on the night came on special teams, however. He lost a fumble on a kickoff and also muffed a punt, which he recovered. His worst play of the night, however, might have been losing about eight yards on a punt return and getting tackled at his own two-yard line.
He looks like he has the athletic ability to be a good returner, but he certainly didn't put all of those abilities on display in this game.
Up next on the All-American Game Circuit is the Army All-American Game on Saturday at 1:00 pm on NBC.
Of interest to Buckeye fans will be ATH Joel Caleb, OL Kyle Dodson (committed to Wisconsin), DT Tommy Schutt (committed to Ohio State), WR Dwayne Stanford (committed to Oregon), and DE Adolphus Washington (committed to Ohio State), all of whom are on the East Team.
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