High-SchoolFootball: Mario Edwards
October, 28, 2011
By Nick Ekbatani | ESPN.com
With Halloween lurking around the corner, you can expect to see the frightening images of ghouls, monsters and scary creatures of the like. Trick-or-treaters will be littering the streets of your neighborhood with hopes of scaring people and scoring candy.
Yes, Halloween may be a scary time of the year, but until you’ve lined up one-on-one in the trenches against one of these guys, you don’t have the slightest idea of how scary things can really get.
FEARSOME FUTURE DUO
Mario Edwards, DE, Ryan (Denton, Texas) and Chris Casher, DE, Davidson (Mobile, Ala.)
Think ghost stories are scary? Here’s a scary fact: The nation’s top two high school defensive ends will soon join forces and play alongside each other in the college ranks. Both Casher and Edwards are committed to play for Florida State -- a school whose defense is a perennial horror for opposing offenses.
Edwards is the top-ranked player in the ESPNU 150 and it’s no wonder why. At 6-4 270, he has the size to contribute immediately at the next level, and the ability to dominate in either the run or pass game.
“I haven’t gone up against him, but all I know is that guy is scary good,” says Curtis Riser, ESPNU No. 7 OG, committed to Texas. “You’d have to be extremely skilled and balanced to even have a chance of blocking him.”
At other end, things don’t get any more reassuring for future opponents. The ultra athletic Casher is ranked No. 3 at his position, and No. 13 overall. Casher attended both the 2011 NFTC at Florida State and Nike’s The Opening and was virtually unblockable at both. Using a great combination of speed and power, coupled with excellent explosive ability, Casher really made a name for himself among the nations elite.
“I’d say that the combination of his overall athleticism, size, and explosiveness make Chris a very scary player to play against,” says Kyle Murphy, ESPNU No. 5 OT.
Florida State ranks in the top 10 in sacks, and it’s only going to get worse with addition of these two pass rushing demons.
And don’t forget, four-star DE Dante Fowler from Lakewood (St. Petersburg, Fla.) is also committed to FSU. Quarterbacks beware. Scary just got downright terrifying.
THE BEASTS WITHIN
Ellis McCarthy, DT, Monrovia (Monrovia, Calif.)
One look at the 6-5, 305 pound monster will have most offensive linemen shaking in their cleats. McCarthy has made a name for himself as one of the most daunting interior defensive linemen in the country. His raw strength and power make him a real challenge for any offensive lineman, and his opponents certainly concur.
“That dude is a beast. He just has so much power. its almost unfair,” says Adam Bisnowaty, ESPNU No. 35 OT, committed to Pitt.
After tallying 69 tackles and 11 sacks as a junior in 2011, McCarthy was runner-up for MVP at the 2011 NFTC at USC, and was a constant force at Nike’s The Opening. Currently the 43rd best player in the country according to the ESPNU 150, McCarthy’s massive list of offers might be the only thing bigger and scarier than he is.
Sheldon Day, DT, Warren Central (Indianapolis)
Day really made his presence felt at Nike’s The Opening, where he won defensive line MVP honors, as well as the respect of every offensive lineman he faced. He is an absolute bull that thrives off of wreaking havoc on interior OL by utilizing his strength and leverage.
“He’s not the biggest, but definitely one of the most explosive guys I’ve ever gone against,” says Isaac Seumalo, ESPNU No. 2 OG, committed to Oregon State. “He knocked me back a bunch of times at The Opening.”
Day is No. 143 on the ESPNU 150 and is committed to Notre Dame. The absurdly long grass at Notre Dame Stadium and the ghost of Knute Rockne might be the only things to consider scary about Notre Dame of recent memory. Day will certainly contribute to a much needed fear factor for the Fighting Irish.
Arik Armstead, OT, Pleasant Grove (Elk Grove, Calif.)
This year, I’m going to be Arik Armstead for Halloween. I’m going to hop up on some stilts, throw on No. 75, and instead of going trick or treating, I’m just going to punk every single opposing defensive lineman I go against for all the candy they have!
One look at Armstead’s highlight film puts any classic horror film to shame. Simply witnessing his freakish 6-8, 285-pound frame move so gracefully and punish the opposition so violently is enough to have any defensive lineman horrified. Arguably one of the top college football prospects in the country, he is the No. 2 OT in the land.
“I haven’t played against anybody that I would honestly consider scary. But when I think of players that would be a real challenge…the only player that comes to mind is Arik Armstead,” says Ronnie Stanley, ESPNU No. 39 OT, and the top-ranked player in Nevada.
He has all the ability to be a future superstar at the next level. Armstead recently reopened the amusement ride that is his recruitment, and the line stretches around just about every corner of the country.
Isaac Seumalo, OG, Corvallis (Corvallis, Ore.)
Very few prep offensive linemen play as advanced as Seumalo does. The son of a college football DL coach, Seumalo has certainly picked up a trick or two from his old man. His technique savvy play and brute strength make preparing to play against him a nightmare. Seumalo brought home 3 NFTC MVP crowns in two years and was one of the most consistent performers at Nike’s The Opening.
Opponents really struggle to figure out how to get past him when he lines up at any of the positions along the OL, and they certainly can’t block him when he lines up on defense. His versatility makes him a terror for any opponent.
“Isaac is a hard nosed competitor and technician, who isn’t afraid of anybody. What makes him scary is how well he can move for his size, and his near perfect technique,” says DT Sheldon Day. “He was a real challenge for me at The Opening.”
Arguably the top OG prospect in the nation, Seumalo is pegged at No. 2 at his position. He is committed to Oregon State, where is father is a coach and his brother is a player.
Nick Ekbatani evaluates OL/DL for ESPNHS. He played every position on the offensive line at UCLA from 2006-2009 and had a brief stint in the NFL with the St. Louis Rams in 2010. Follow him on Twitter @EkbataniESPN
One of the biggest individual honors a high school football player can receive is Mr. Football USA, the title bestowed upon the nation’s most outstanding player each fall by ESPNHS.
Below is a look at the top pre-season candidates in the chase for the 2011 Mr. Football USA. Every Tuesday during the regular season we’ll update the totals of many leading contenders as well as examine some of the new names that are emerging as strong contenders.
RB Johnathan Gray, Aledo (Aledo, Texas)
This week: Ran 26 times for 217 yards and four touchdowns, but was stopped on a two-point conversion with under two minutes remaining as preseason FAB 50 No. 18 Aledo was stunned by Stephenville 48-47.
Stock – Slightly Down: Gray doesn’t play defense, so his culpability in Aledo’s loss is minimal, but the two-time state champs losing their opener doesn’t help his cause.
ATH Stefon Diggs, Good Counsel (Olney, Md.)
This week: Good Counsel opens its season with a big showdown vs. FAB 50 ranked Manatee (Bradenton, Fla.) on Sept. 2.
Stock – Same
DE Mario Edwards Jr., Denton Ryan (Denton, Texas)
This week: Edwards, the top-ranked recruit nationwide by ESPNU, showed out in his televised opportunity Saturday night, recording two sacks and forcing a fumble that was recovered for a TD in Ryan’s 25-9 win on ESPN2.
Stock – Up: Edwards made plays and made the most of his showcase game. He’ll need to keep doing the same as Ryan plays better competition later in the year.
QB Bart Houston, De La Salle (Concord, Calif.)
This week: Houston and DLS open Sept. 2 versus Bellarmine Prep (San Jose, Calif.)
Stock – Same
RB Alex Ross, Jenks (Jenks, Okla.)
This week: Ross will start his senior year this Friday night as Jenks opens with Bixby (Bixby, Okla.).
Stock – Same
RB/DB Shaq Thompson, Grant (Sacramento, Calif.)
This week: Thompson ran for 120 spectacular yards and three scores, two in the pivotal third quarter before missing the fourth with cramps, as Grant rallied from 16-7 down at the break to crush Folsom (Folsom, Calif.) 43-16 in a matchup of two of the top teams in Northern California. The two teams split two meetings a year ago with Folsom eliminating the Pacers in the playoffs.
Stock – Slightly Up: The Folsom game and now this week’s test against Poly (Long Beach, Calif.) are Grant’s two major tests until the playoffs, and Shaq passed the first one with flying colors.
ON THE RADAR
WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Hillcrest (Springfield, Mo.)
This week: Green-Beckham can’t control the level of competition, which was suspect Saturday night and will be all year long, but like Mario Edwards, he made the most of his spotlighted ESPNU-televised game. The nation’s top wide receiver caught 18 passes for 284 yards and three touchdowns in Hillcrest’s 48-20 win over Seneca (Seneca, Mo.).
Stock - Up: His talent is undeniable and it had folks around the country buzzing on social media Saturday night. Maintain big numbers year-long and there could be a very strong case for Mr. Football USA.