NCF On The Trail: Dante Booker

Here are the top performances by Big Ten commits and targets from the weekend.


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Urban Meyer doesn’t miss an opportunity to impress.


The two-time national champion did it last year when Nebraska played Ohio State in The Horseshoe under the lights and he’s not missing the opportunity this year.

Here’s a look at some of the bigger names scheduled to make the trek to the banks of the Olentangy River for the Buckeyes-Badgers game Saturday evening.

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Big Ten recruiting writers Tom VanHaaren and Brad Bournival outline this weekend’s high school football games featuring Big Ten commitments and targets.

Prep Kickoff Classic:

The annual Prep Kickoff Classic begins on August 29 and runs through Aug. 31 and will take place at Wayne State University in Detroit.

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BuckeyeNation looks at 10 themes of Ohio State’s 2014 recruiting class to date:

Arms race is over

Ohio State missed out on ESPN 300 quarterbacks Kyle Allen (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain) and Brandon Harris (Bossier City, La./Parkway) and came up empty on standout DeShaun Watson as well. That didn’t matter to Urban Meyer, who got his man in Stephen Collier (Leesburg, Ga./Leesburg). The Georgia high school standout had a private game of pitch and catch with the Buckeyes coach and it was enough to earn an offer and commitment. Consider the hunt for a quarterback finished.


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The Opening provided prospects with the opportunity to showcase their skills against the best in the nation. It also gave them the chance to see where they stacked up and provided a good recruiting tool as well, if prospects perform well and improve their stock.

Here is a look at four Ohio State pledges and six targets that helped themselves at the three-day camp:

1. WR Terry McLaurin (Indianapolis/Cathedral)
6-0, 181
Unranked


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Ohio State had several areas of need in the 2014 class, chief among them being the offensive line and linebacker. Here’s a look at their top five areas of need and what they’ve done to address them so far.


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Nine Ohio State pledges will head to The Opening, which is one more than a year ago.

With the most representatives of any school in the nation heading to the nationally televised, star-studded event, quarterback Stephen Collier (Leesburg, Ga./Lee County), running back Parris Campbell Jr. (Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent-St. Mary), outside linebackers Dante Booker (Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent-St. Mary) and Kyle Berger (Cleveland/St. Ignatius), offensive tackle Kyle Trout (Lancaster, Ohio/Lancaster), defensive ends Dylan Thompson (Lombard, Ill./Montini Catholic) and Jalyn Holmes (Norfolk, Va./Lake Taylor), wide receiver Terry McLaurin (Indianapolis/Cathedral) and cornerback Damon Webb (Detroit/Cass Tech) know what they’re in for.

All nine are going there with a chip and a chirp.

[+] EnlargeDante Booker
Brad Bournival/ESPN.comA big Opening could propel Dante Booker up the rankings.
<1. The chip is to prove they’re underrated.

OSU has the most commits at The Opening of any school by far, but that doesn’t mean it has a ton of highly ranked commits. In fact, only four of its commits are in the ESPN 300, and only one (Webb), is among the top 150. Excellent showings here could provide a rankings boost for any of them. “By competing, we’re showing how good we are,” Berger said. “Being able to meet up with the top 150 kids, it’s the perfect time.”

2. The chirp is to get in the ear of some of the top campers in the nation.

All nine have been active in recruiting for the Buckeyes. Webb’s family even has a website, Bucks2014.com, detailing news, notes and commitments for Ohio State. They all see The Opening as an opportunity to spread the word. “Kids like to make decisions in the summer,” Berger said. “This is a great time to put the Buckeyes in their ear.”

3. Stout Trout.

Trout is one of those guys outside the 300 with a chance to break in if he can hold up against top competition, some of which he got a chance to see up close and personal at the Columbus NFTC. “I’m trying to seek out the best competition and beat them,” Trout said. “I went to the Nike Training Camp expecting to see Da’Shawn Hand. I wanted to see him and I wanted to go against him. When they said, ‘Do you want to play right tackle?’ I said, “ ‘Heck yeah, I want to play right tackle.’ I’m a left tackle, but I don’t care. I can change my feet, I’m athletic. It’s a little weird, but I wanted to prove to people I can go with the No. 1 defensive end in the nation, which is exactly what I did. … He beat me, I beat him, and we stalemated. I want to go at him again. Not in a mean way, we’re cool, but I want to go against the best talent in the nation.”


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The Opening, presented by Nike, will feature 162 of the best high school football players in the country. The event, which will include linemen, 7-on-7 and SPARQ testing competitions, is set to run from June 30 to July 3 at the Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Ore.

The following events from The Opening will be televised on ESPNU:

July 1: SPARQ Rating National Championship, 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. ET

July 2: 7-on-7 Pool Play, 9 p.m.-11:30 p.m. ET

July 3: Linemen Challenge Finals and 7-on-7 semifinal and championship games, 9 p.m.-midnight ET

The players will be divided in to six teams -- Alpha Pro, Apocalypse, Field Generals, Land Sharks, Super Bad and Vapor Carbon. Here is a closer look at how the teams match up.

Team: Alpha Pro
Coaches: Offensive coordinator Jordan Palmer, defensive coordinator Hardy Nickerson

The Alpha Pro team will have plenty of targets to spread the ball around. Ermon Lane and Tyler Luatua, the No. 1-ranked receiver and tight end in the country respectively, bring size and playmaking ability to the passing game. ESPN 300 athletes Corey Holmes, Jalen Hurd, John "JuJu" Smith, Ja'Von Harrison, and Derrell Scott are all explosive offensive weapons.

Defensively Alpha Pro is led by Andrew Brown, the No. 1-ranked defensive tackle in the country, ESPN 150 cornerback Damon Webb, defensive end Andrew Williams, Ohio State linebacker commit Dante Booker and LSU cornerback commit Chris Hardeman.

Complete Alpha Pro roster.

Team: Apocalypse
Coaches: Offensive coordinator Adam Tafralis, defensive coordinator Donovin Darius

The first thing that jumps out about team Apocalypse is the talent in the defensive front seven. Team Apocalypse will be led by five-star defensive end Da'Shawn Hand and inside linebacker Raekwon McMillan. Hand, from Woodbridge, Va., is the No. 4-ranked player in the country, while McMillan was recently bumped up to a five-star linebacker. Joining Hand and McMillan along the front seven are ESPN 300 defensive linemen Anthony Moten and Ainuu Taua, and linebackers D.J. Calhoun and Rashaan Evans.

Offensively, team Apocalypse has no shortage of playmakers. ESPN 300 wide receivers Artavis Scott, K.D. Cannon and Michiah Quick will provide explosiveness in the passing game, while athletic running backs Joe Mixon and Royce Freeman will provide athletic and reliable targets out of the backfield.

Complete Apocalypse roster.

Team: Field Generals
Coaches: Offensive coordinator Charlie Frye, defensive coordinator Michael Fletcher

Seven-on-seven events are always geared towards the offense, but with five-star defensive back Adoree' Jackson, No. 3-ranked safety Jamal Adams, and ESPN 300 cornerback Adarius Pickett in the secondary, the Field Generals should more than hold their own. New Ohio State defensive end commit Jalyn Holmes and the No. 6-ranked defensive end in the country, Solomon Thomas, will be two to watch along the defensive line.

Offensively, the Field Generals are led by ESPN 300 offensive guard Damien Mama, ESPN 300 wide receivers Austin Roberts and Thaddeus Snodgrass and explosive Notre Dame running back commit Elijah Hood.

Complete Field Generals roster.

Team: Landsharks
Coaches: Offensive coordinator Craig Nall, defensive coordinator Keith Bulluck

The Landsharks have some big-time talent along each line of scrimmage. Led by five-star offensive tackle Cameron Robinson, the Landsharks also feature ESPN 300 offensive guard Corey Martinez. ESPN 300 defensive linemen Gerald Willis III and Thomas Holley, as well as ESPN 300 defensive end Chad Thomas, will form a very physical and athletic defensive line.

In the secondary, the Landsharks will have three defensive backs -- Arrion Springs, Chris Lammons and Tony Brown -- that are ranked among the top 85 players in the country. The defense also features ESPN 150 linebacker Nyles Morgan.

Offensively, explosive running backs Dalvin Cook, a Florida commit, and Racean Thomas form a dangerous tandem out of the backfield, and wide receivers Travis Rudolph and Jalen Harvey are solid receiving threats.

Complete Landsharks roster.

Team: Superbad
Coaches: Offensive coordinator Dennis Gile, defensive coordinator Harold Nash Jr.

The Superbad defense line is led by five-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter and ESPN 150 defensive tackle Bijhon Jackson. The linebacking corp is stacked with three ESPN 300 members, including Clifton Garrett, Christian Miller and Edwin Freeman. Cornerback Jalen Tabor is the No. 19-ranked player in the country.

Offensively, Superbad has a huge advantage with the No. 1-ranked prospect in the country, running back Leonard Fournette. This team is loaded on offense, with wide receivers Drake Harris, Josh Malone and Speedy Noil all in the mix.

Complete Superbad roster.

Team: Vapor Carbon
Coaches: Offensive coordinator George Whitfield, defensive coordinator Chris Gizzi.

Vapor Carbon will be tough to throw against with defensive backs Quin Blanding, Naijiel Hale and Ed Paris roaming the field. The linebacker group is just as impressive, with Ohio State commit Kyle Berger, Kain Daub and Dillon Bates all leading the way.

The offense for Vapor Carbon could be lethal with running back Joseph Yearby and Nick Chubb in the backfield. Spreading out wide receivers T.V. Williams, Justin Brent and tight end Ian Bunting on the outside could prove to be an awesome combination for this squad.

Team Vapor Carbon has a lot of pieces to make a long run in the 7-on-7 tournament, but then again, every team is stacked in this competition.

Complete Vapor Carbon roster.
The ESPN 300 was released Monday, and it is evident Ohio State has to make up some ground.

Last year, Ohio State debuted at No. 7 when the first 300 was released behind a core group of six ESPN 150 selections and five other top pledges.

This year, the Buckeyes have just one ESPN 150 senior in cornerback Damon Webb (Detroit/Cass Tech) and two other 300 selections in outside linebackers Dante Booker (Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent-St. Mary) and Kyle Berger (Cleveland/St. Ignatius), though it should be noted that Booker is just six spots out of the 150.


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This month is very important for Ohio State, as the staff is set to host its senior advanced camp on Sunday. Hundreds of prospects will be in attendance, including several top targets. Here are five storylines to watch this week:


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BuckeyeNation continues to hit the road in search of budding Division I talent who should catch the eyes of Ohio State fans. Here’s what we came up with this week:

This week’s targets: BuckeyeNation as well as RecruitingNation headed to Columbus, Ohio, for the Elite 11 and Nike Football Training Camp. Seven Buckeyes commitments -- the only pledges missing were Marcelys Jones (Cleveland/Glenville) and Sam Hubbard (Cincinnati/Moeller) -- made their way to the Ohio State campus and didn’t disappoint as Kyle Berger (Cleveland/St. Ignatius), Kyle Trout (Lancaster, Ohio/Lancaster), Damon Webb (Detroit/Cass Tech), Dylan Thompson (Lombard, Ill./Montini Catholic) and teammates Dante Booker and Parris Campbell Jr. of Akron (Ohio) St. Vincent-St. Mary each earned trips to The Opening.

Detroit rock city: Assistant coach Kerry Coombs spent a good portion of the evaluation period in Detroit, and for good reason. He went after two-time Michigan commit David Dawson from Cass Tech High School last season, but missed. Coombs and the Buckeyes didn’t this time around as Webb committed back in January. Malik McDowell of Detroit Loyola is also on the Ohio State radar. Before he said yes to Michigan, Lawrence Marshall was an Ohio State pledge, even if it was only for three days. Marshall lives in Southfield, Mich. a suburb 19 minutes away from Detroit.

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Here are five storylines to watch on Sunday:

Looking out for No. 1

The Columbus Nike Football Training Camp will bring out the top defensive lineman in the country in Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge).


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BuckeyeNation continues to hit the road in search of budding Division I talent that should catch the eyes of Ohio State fans. Here’s what we came up with this week:

This week’s targets: BuckeyeNation swung out to the Youngstown, Ohio, area and took a good look at Hubbard and Warren Harding high schools. While there, we talked to offensive guard Matt Jones and running back Larry “LJ” Scott of Hubbard. Both are Buckeyes targets as sophomores. Harding is the home of Denmark sensation Hjalte Froholdt and Ohio State legacy James Daniels, whose father LeShun Daniels Sr. played offensive guard for the Buckeyes in the 1990s. One other interesting note about Daniels is that his brother LeShun Daniels Jr. signed a letter of intent to play for Iowa this February.

Vividly Virginia: The Buckeyes made it abundantly clear last week that Virginia was fertile recruiting ground. Ohio State long has had offers out to Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge/Woodbridge), Andrew Brown (Chesapeake/Oscar Frommel Smith) and Quin Blanding (Virginia Beach/Bayside), but last Wednesday the Buckeyes offered five Virginians in rapid fashion. The offers went out to outside linebacker Ricky DeBerry (Richmond, St. Christophers), cornerback Garrett Taylor (Richmond, St. Christophers), wide receiver Scott Bracey (Richmond/Benedictine School), wide receiver Jaason Lewis (Virginia Beach/Ocean Lakes) and inside linebacker Jahvoni Simmons (Virginia Beach/Ocean Lakes).

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Weekly Commitment Roundup

May, 24, 2013
5/24/13
1:29
PM ET
ACC
Clemson
Adam Choice RB, Thomasville, Ga./Thomas County Central
HT: 5-9 WT: 196
Position Rank: #26 RB
Stars: 4

C.J. Fuller RB, Easley, S.C./Easley
HT: 5-10 WT: 204
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

North Carolina
D'Ernest Johnson RB, Immokalee, Fla./Immokalee
HT: 5-11 WT: 182
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

North Carolina State
Sean Bowens OLB, Port Saint Lucie, Fla./Treasure Coast
HT: 6-2 WT: 220
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Keith Ford DT, Bluffton, S.C./Bluffton
HT: 6-1 WT: 270
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Big 12
Baylor
Patrick Lawrence OT, Waxahachie, Texas/Waxahachie
HT: 6-5 WT: 245
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Ishmael Zamora WR, Houston, Texas/Elsik
HT: 6-4 WT: 201
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Oklahoma
Alex Dalton OC, Troy, Ohio/Troy
HT: 6-4 WT: 280
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Carson Meier TE-Y, Tulsa, Okla./Tulsa Union
HT: 6-6 WT: 220
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Tito Windham CB, Gulfport, Miss./Harrison Central
HT: 5-9 WT: 174
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

TCU
Johnny Shaw S, Center, Texas/Center
HT: 6-2 WT: 188
Class of 2015

Big East
Louisville
T.J. Foster WR, Union, S.C./Union County
HT: 6-2 WT: 175
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Rutgers
Kamren Lott CB, Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast
HT: 5-10 WT: 180
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Big Ten
Illinois
Trevor Kanteman TE-Y, West Hills, Calif./Pierce College (JC)
HT: 6-4 WT: 245
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Ohio State
Dante Booker OLB, Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent-St. Mary
HT: 6-3 WT: 215
Position Rank: #8 OLB
Stars: 4

Pac-12
California
Tre Watson RB, Corona, Calif./Centennial
HT: 5-10 WT: 184
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Washington State
Paris Taylor S, Woodland Hills, Calif./Pierce College (JC)
HT: 6-3 WT: 225
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

SEC
Florida
Cyontai Lewis TE-H, Tuscaloosa, Ala./Northridge
HT: 6-4 WT: 230
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Mississippi State
Jocquell Johnson OT, Jackson, Miss./Copiah-Lincoln CC (JC)
HT: 6-5 WT: 305
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Missouri Paul Adams OT, Nashville, Tenn./Christ Presbyterian Academy
HT: 6-7 WT: 262
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

South Carolina
Shameik Blackshear DE, Bluffton, S.C./Bluffton
HT: 6-4 WT: 235
Class of 2015

Dexter Neal WR, Stone Mountain, Ga./Stephenson
HT: 6-2 WT: 195
Class of 2015

Tennessee
Aaron Medley K, Lewisburg, Tenn./Marshall County
HT: 6-2 WT: 165
Position Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Darel Middleton TE-Y, Powell, Tenn./Powell
HT: 6-5 WT: 230
Class of 2016
Commitment No. 9 came in a big way for Ohio State on Thursday.

It came from an outside linebacker the Buckeyes have been coveting for some time now.

Dante Booker (Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent-St. Mary) will join running back and teammate Parris Campbell Jr. as part of the 2014 recruiting class for Ohio State.


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