Saturday, May 5, 2012
Powerhouse programs star at NFTC
By Tom VanHaaren WolverineNation.com
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Saturday's Columbus Nike Football Training Camp at Ohio Dominican University was a showcase of talent in the Midwest, but it was dominated by two schools.
Mike McCray of Trotwood (Ohio) Madison won the linebacker MVP at Saturday's Nike Training Camp.
Detroit Cass Tech and Trotwood (Ohio) Madison brought 27 prospects to the camp between the two schools. An outstanding number, but maybe even more impressive was that the majority of the players on hand were top performers and high-profile recruiting targets with interest from all over the country.
There were six position most valuable player awards given out and the two schools accounted for half of the awards. Michigan commit Mike McCray of Trotwood took home the linebacker MVP, and Cass Tech teammates David Dawson and Delano Hill were awarded offensive line and defensive back MVPs honors.
"I just tried to work hard and compete, and I'm just trying to get where my teammates were last year," McCray said. "We all worked hard, but I think I performed well in the individuals and the seven-on-sevens to get the award."
Cass Tech had 18 players at the event and as usual showed that they have top talent year in and year out. While the 2014 recruits are only juniors-to-be, the underclassmen at the camp put on a performance that turned a lot of heads -- particularly wide receiver Damon Webb and linebackers William White, Gary Hosey and Deon Drake.
"Having all my teammates there, it kept my head up and it was motivation to show out a little bit," Drake said. "We did walk on the field kind of cocky today, but we showed out today."
Drake and his 2014 teammates are already hearing from top programs such as Michigan, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Iowa and UCLA.
Bringing the recruits from each school to the camp was a priority for both coaching staffs, as it gave the players an opportunity to see what it takes to be a top prospect in their class but also to help get them exposure on the national scene.
"I think it's important we got all of our kids exposure because they all have the same goal and the same dream," Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher said. "They have the chance to see the competition, and on our team if you work out and you're doing a good job then you get on the bus. If not, then you can't get on the bus."
The emphasis was a little different for Trotwood, since Ohio was its home turf. Trotwood wanted to showcase that the talent pools in the 2013 and 2014 classes in Ohio haven't dipped one bit.
Much like Cass Tech, Trotwood had a few good 2014 prospects on hand, including running back Ashton Jackson, defensive end Verondtae Wilkinson and wide receiver Kendric Mallory.
"I caught the ball well today, and I thought I did well," Mallory said. "I got my first offer from Illinois, and I've been hearing from Penn State, Wisconsin and West Virginia, so I hope to hear from more after this."
Jalin Marshall shows versatility
Athlete Jalin Marshall, of Middletown, Ohio, worked out at the Elite 11 and the NFTC in Columbus, which somewhat symbolizes his potential future as a Buckeyes commitment.
Marshall, the No. 8 athlete and the No. 55 overall prospect in the country, believes he can compete at quarterback at the next level but is also willing to do whatever it takes to help his team as an athlete.
"I think I did real well bouncing around to different positions," he said. "I threw the ball well and they couldn't guard me at receiver. [Ohio State] is recruiting me as an athlete, so I have to go up there and throw for them, but for now it's an athlete."
Marshall showed why he's ranked as an athlete by impressing at receiver. Camp position coaches were impressed with his quickness, route running and ability to separate. Marshall recognizes that ability and says if he had the choice, receiver would be his pick in college.
"With Braxton [Miller] there right now, I would like to play slot, because with both of us on the field it would be dangerous," he said. "I went up against [Ohio State commit] Cam Burrows today. It was a bad ball but I burned him, so I think I could be dangerous at receiver."
Malik McDowell already holds offers from Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State and Syracuse.
McDowell uses camp as a learning tool
Defensive end Malik McDowell, of Detroit Loyola, is quickly emerging as one of the top 2014 prospects in the Midwest and wowed everybody at the camp with his 6-foot-5, 250-pound frame.
McDowell already holds offers from Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State and Syracuse and recently added another big, national offer.
"Oregon recently offered me, and I'm also hearing from Notre Dame," he said. "I'm going to the Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State camps coming up, too."
McDowell seemed disappointed in himself after the event and felt that he could have performed much better than he did.
"I'm a little upset, but I'll do better at the next camp," he said. "I'll come back next time and not lose."
West another top sophomore
The Columbus NFTC was riddled with top prospects within the 2014 class, and defensive back Darius West was one of the top on the list. The 5-11, 190-pound prospect came into the day hoping to improve on his game, and he knows exactly what he wants to work on after the camp.
"I need to break on the ball faster and you can always get stronger and faster," he said. "My coaches want me to use my head more, and be more mental than physical."
West said he's already hearing from Illinois, Iowa State, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, West Virginia, Minnesota and Kentucky.
"It all came real fast, and I wasn't really expecting that," he said. "I performed really well at my first combine, but after that things started blowing up. I kept going places, kept improving and kept getting interest."
That trend is very likely to continue going forward after his performance in Columbus against some of the top defensive backs in the Midwest.