Future rivals face off

Michigan and Ohio State recruits earned all seven Opening invites in Columbus

Updated: May 8, 2012, 10:40 AM ET
By Jared Shanker | ESPN RecruitingNation

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- With the hirings of Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer over the past two offseasons, the rivalry between college football bluebloods Michigan and Ohio State appeared destined to be rekindled.

It looks as if the Class of 2013 will ensure that it is.

At the Columbus Nike Football Training Camp held Saturday at Ohio Dominican University, all seven prospects who walked away with invites to The Opening were committed to either the Wolverines or Buckeyes. Michigan pledges Taco Charlton, David Dawson, Mike McCray II and Shane Morris each received an invite, while Ohio State recruits Cam Burrows, Jalin Marshall and Billy Price booked their tickets to Oregon as well.

"That Michigan-Ohio State rivalry is getting back to what it used to be is huge," said Morris, a De La Salle (Warren, Mich.) QB who was named the Elite 11 regional MVP on Friday, earning him a spot in the Elite 11 finals this summer. "Great players are going to Michigan. Great players are going to Ohio State. It's going to keep the rivalry going."

The Opening will provide the commits an opportunity to interact with their future teammates before landing on campus. Some of the commitments from both Michigan and Ohio State are already talking about rooming together.

"It gives us more time to bond, hopefully," said Marshall, a Middletown (Ohio) junior ranked No. 55 in the ESPN 150, "and maybe be roommates and bond and talk and have fun together."

The rivalry between the commits is not at the level typically displayed each November just yet, though. Both the Michigan and Ohio State commits call it a "friendly" competition.

Many of the players -- whether committed to Michigan or Ohio State -- already share a bond with each other. Burrows, Charlton, Marshall, McCray and Price are all from Ohio.

"It's kind of funny because I know a lot of them because they're coming from Ohio," said Charlton, a defensive lineman from Pickerington (Ohio). "We tease each other, talk about how ugly each other's colors is. It's all fun and good competition. But congrats to them, they're real great players."

Burrows, who is high school teammates with McCray at Trotwood-Madison (Trotwood, Ohio), is happy the Michigan commits made it, because it means he will see stiff competition at The Opening.

"It feels good because I know it's going to be a lot of those Wishigan  I call them Wishigan  players out there, like Mike McCray and Taco and other people," Burrows said. "I need somebody out there to battle with me."

The rival commits are playing nice for now, but what about after The Opening?

"When we put the helmets on," Burrows said, "it's a different story."

Marshall sees time at quarterback and receiver

With Ohio State already having one quarterback commit (J.T. Barrett) and actively seeking a second in the 2013 class, it looks as if Jalin Marshall's career at quarterback could come to an end after his senior season at Middletown. Marshall does not necessarily see it that way, though.

On Friday, Marshall was solid competing in the Elite 11 drills. And at the NFTC, he spent the first half of the camp competing with the quarterbacks. At the end, Marshall felt he belonged right there with the others, which included Morris, Matt Alviti, Danny Etling, Malik Zaire and many more top quarterbacks.

"I think I mixed right in there with them," he said. "I didn't shy away from the competition, and I think that's what made it even better. I was confident and I made the same throws they made."

Still, the odds of Marshall being a full-time quarterback at Ohio State are not in his favor, and receiver is a more likely landing spot for the nation's eighth-ranked athlete. Toward the end of the camp, Marshall moved out to receiver. On one play, he squared off with Burrows, ranked No. 4 at cornerback in the country.

There was no clear-cut winner, as the quarterback overthrew Marshall and did not give him a chance to make a play on the ball.

When asked afterward who won, Burrows asked: "Did he catch the ball?"

Marshall had a slightly different conclusion.

"Ah, I won that," he said, smiling. "I had him burned."

Howard turning heads at linebacker

At the end of last summer, nobody knew where Darrien Howard of Chaminade-Julienne (Dayton, Ohio) would play. Is he a middle linebacker? Defensive end? Maybe even a fullback?

Howard wants to play linebacker, and he turned a lot of people into believers at the NFTC.

During linebacker-versus-running back drills, Howard, a four-star prospect ranked No. 7 nationally among inside linebackers, was among the top players.

A little overweight previously, Howard has been working out with a trainer and now says he is at 242 pounds with the goal of getting to 235 soon. He thinks that will help him remain in the middle instead of being shifted to defensive end.

"I'm watching my weight for one, and getting faster," he said.

One program that wanted to see Howard's physique before extending an offer was Indiana, so the Hoosiers sent a coach to Chaminade-Julienne recently. The visit ended with a scholarship offer.

"It was a defensive coach, and they wanted a defensive coach to come look at me," Howard said.

Tuley-Tillman bred to be an anchor

At some point during his college career, ESPN 150 offensive tackle Logan Tuley-Tillman of Manual Academy (Peoria, Ill.) is expected to become the anchor of the Michigan offensive line.

If his performance at the NFTC is any indication, he is bred to be an anchor.

During the tug-of-war drills that pitted the offensive linemen against the defensive linemen, Tuley-Tillman, ranked No. 97 in the ESPN 150, anchored the rope each time he participated. The offense won each time, due largely in part to Tuley-Tillman's anchoring.

During the final drill, in which a host of offensive and defensive linemen each grabbed the rope, Tuley-Tillman once again anchored and not surprisingly led the offense to victory again.

Jared Shanker

Florida State/ACC reporter