Bevy of Michigan and Ohio State recruits to take part in Columbus NFTC
The sixth stop on the Nike Football Training Camp tour will take place Saturday at Ohio Dominican University in Columbus, Ohio. While the previous five NFTCs have featured a number of top recruits and intense one-on-one battles, the Columbus NFTC should have the best storyline so far, with a number of Michigan and Ohio State commits set to square off in Buckeye country.
"I'm going to show them what they're missing out on," joked Austintown Fitch (Austintown, Ohio) defensive tackle and Ohio State commit Billy Price. "It's a fun rivalry with those guys."
Craig Haubert, national recruiting analyst for ESPN, on the Nike Football Training Camps:
Why they matter
NFTCs provide a great platform to become more informed as an evaluator, with the opportunity to see a large number of prospects go through drills and compete in one location. They can help cement a prospect's status if he's already highly rated by confirming what was seen on film. The camps can also be a good place for under-the-radar prospects to get more exposure and warrant further evaluation.
Why you should pay attention
The NFTCs attract a good number of high-profile prospects, the ones recruiting fans most want to hear and learn about. Not often in football do you get a group of top prospects in one setting and see them go through drills and compete. It helps supplement your film evaluation.
What he looks for
As an evaluator, having a large number of prospects in one place allows you to put them through the eye test to get a more accurate feel for heights and weights. It can also be helpful to see how the players compete against one another. We look at not only performance and the execution of skills, but also at who takes coaching well, who tries to take as many reps as he can and who tries to challenge himself against the best. But just because a prospect does well at the event doesn't mean that's all you need to see.
"Hopefully we take the MVP at every position," added Pickerington Central (Pickerington, Ohio) defensive end Taco Charlton, a Michigan pledge.
Charlton and Price will be two of the favorites for the defensive line MVP award Saturday. Charlton, who's rated the nation's No. 115 recruit in the ESPN 150, is actually participating in his second NFTC this spring -- he shined at the Long Beach, Calif., event in March.
This past fall, Charlton guided Pickerington Central to a Division I state runner-up finish in football. And in March, he was the starting center on the Pickerington Central boys' basketball team that won its first state title.
Meanwhile, Price is looking to rebound from last year's Columbus NFTC, where he competed at offensive tackle. Now his focus is on defensive tackle, a position he's expected to play at Ohio State, and securing a spot in The Opening this summer in Beaverton, Ore.
"I want to redeem myself from last year," Price said. "I felt I had a subpar performance. I'm playing on the defensive line this year and I plan on bringing a lot of energy. I've got the mindset to go to Oregon this summer. I'm going to do everything I can to get that invitation."
Charlton and Price will face plenty of competition from the talented offensive lineman in Columbus. Leading the group is Cass Tech (Detroit) star David Dawson, who's rated the nation's No. 1 guard by ESPN and No. 92 recruit in the ESPN 150.
The Michigan verbal spent last year in Texas, but in February he re-enrolled at Cass Tech, which won the Division 1 state title this past fall.
One of the stars of that team, cornerback Jourdan Lewis, is also expected to be in Columbus on Saturday. Lewis, who has committed to Michigan, is rated the nation's No. 107 recruit in the ESPN 150. He starred on both sides of the ball in last year's state final against Detroit Catholic Central (Novi, Mich.), catching four passes for 89 yards and a touchdown on offense and tallying six tackles on defense. He finished his junior season with eight interceptions.
Another elite corner slated to be on hand is Cam Burrows of Trotwood-Madison (Trotwood, Ohio). Rated the nation's No. 4 cornerback by ESPN and the No. 21 overall recruit in the ESPN 150, Burrows recorded 46 tackles, 12 pass breakups and four interceptions as a junior.
The soft-spoken Burrows, an Ohio State commit, simply said he hopes to prove he's a lockdown corner Saturday.
One player who'll look to prove himself against Burrows is his friend and fellow Buckeyes commit Jalin Marshall. The Middletown (Ohio) quarterback is rated the nation's No. 8 athlete by ESPN. Fresh off competing at quarterback at the Elite 11 regional Friday, Marshall said he'll try out at wide receiver at the NFTC on Saturday.
"I want to go up against Cam Burrows," Marshall said with a laugh. "He said he thinks he can guard me. It's a friendly competition."
"I have no choice [but to go up against him]," replied Burrows.
Like Marshall, De La Salle (Warren, Mich.) quarterback and Michigan recruit Shane Morris, the No. 37 recruit in the ESPN 150, will also take part in the NFTC following the Elite 11 regional.
"I'm looking forward to getting in some one-on-one and seven-on-seven work," Morris said. "Also, I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of the Michigan commits out there and just having a great time."
Another top player to watch is linebacker Mike McCray II, Burrows' high school teammate at Trotwood-Madison. The son of former Ohio State linebacker Mike McCray, McCray II has committed to Michigan and is rated the No. 75 recruit in the ESPN 150. He played a key role in Trotwood-Madison's run to the state title, recording 132 tackles and five picks on defense and catching 13 touchdown passes on offense.