Commentary

Midwestern stars shine in Massillon

Top recruits lived up to the hype while some surprise names starred in Ohio

Updated: March 20, 2012, 9:55 AM ET
By Brian Stumpf

MASSILLON, Ohio -- The 2012 Nike Football SPARQ Combine tour hit the Midwest on Saturday for the ninth event of the spring. Over 1,200 participants were tested and competed at the state-of-the-art indoor facility of the Massillon High Tigers. The indoor conditions led to some stellar testing results, as 11 athletes topped 100 in the SPARQ rating system.

Tuscarawas Central Catholic (New Philadelphia, Ohio) linebacker Michael Lawless took home the Ohio Nike combine's top SPARQ rating at 113.43. Lawless, a 6-foot-2, 203-pounder, ran a solid 4.80 40-yard dash, 4.21 shuttle, threw the power ball an impressive 42 feet and jumped 34.9 inches in the vertical.

It was a breakout effort for Lawless in his third straight year of attending the Massillon event. In 2010 he posted a 55.77 rating and last spring the number jumped up to 82.74. The versatile athlete plays quarterback on offense and is a standout on the basketball team. Lawless should be a player colleges want to look into after the big combine effort.

Toledo Central Catholic (Toledo, Ohio) safety Jayme Thompson turned in a solid effort on Saturday, clocking a 4.77 40, 4.4 shuttle and jumping 32.9 inches in the vertical while measuring 6-foot-2 and 183 pounds. Thompson's teammate Keith Towbridge, a hulking 6-foot-5, 245-pound tight end with offers from Nebraska, Illinois and Louisville, also had a solid day thanks to a 4.34 shuttle and 34-foot power ball toss.

The real breakout star from Saturday's combine might just be Heath Harding, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound all-purpose back out of tiny Dayton Christian (Dayton, Ohio). Somewhat unknown due to the fact he plays Division V football, Harding had a huge junior season in which he carried the ball only 122 times but produced 1,501 yards and scored 33 total touchdowns.

Harding's testing numbers on Saturday indicate that his big-play ability might translate to the next level. The speedy back posted top-five marks in every event except the power ball, clocking a 4.53 40, a 4.19 shuttle and a 37.8-inch vertical, finishing with a 105.45 SPARQ rating.


Top Class of 2013 Performer

Heath Harding, RB, Dayton Christian (Dayton, Ohio) Harding should garner a significant amount of interest following his effort Saturday, as he put forth outstanding results in the speed and explosiveness tests. His level of competition at Dayton Christian can be questioned, but his athletic ability is now verified.


Class of 2013 Honorable Mention Performers

Jon-Marc Anderson, WR, Castle (Newburgh, Ind.)
Anderson had a huge junior season this past fall, catching 48 passes for 1,104 yards and 11 touchdowns. On Saturday he put that playmaking speed on display, clocking a 4.43 40-yard dash, the third-fastest time on the Nike combine tour so far. The 5-foot-10, 162-pounder also posted a 31.3-inch vertical.

Berkley Edwards, RB, Chelsea (Mich.)
The younger brother of former Michigan great Braylon Edwards is beginning to make his own name on the gridiron. The 5-foot-9, 181-pound running back ran 269 times for 1,520 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior. Edwards put up big numbers on Saturday, running 4.51 in the 40, 4.43 in the shuttle, jumping 37.8 inches in the vertical and throwing the power ball 36.5 feet for a 103.71 SPARQ rating. Central Michigan, Bowling Green, Kent State and Toledo have already offered.

Harneet Gill, OL, Francis Howell (St. Charles, Mo.)
Gill committed to Missouri two weeks ago and still made the 10 hour trip east for the combine and made the trip worthwhile with a big day. The 6-foot-6, 240-pound tackle jumped a whopping 33 inches in the vertical and threw the power ball 42.5 feet. He also clocked 5.28 in the 40 and finished with a stellar 90.93 SPARQ rating, second-best for an offensive lineman on the 2012 tour.

TBD Editor
Tom Hauck/ESPNHSDarrien Howard of Chaminade-Julienne (Dayton, Ohio) is an athletic 6-foot, 252-pound DL/LB with offers form West Virginia, Illinois, Pitt, Cincinnati and several MAC schools.
Darrien Howard, LB, Chaminade-Julienne (Dayton, Ohio)
Howard posted a 97.02 SPARQ rating at this event a year ago and showed improvement on Saturday, especially in the 40-yard dash, which he lowered from 5.12 a year ago to 4.83. The 6-foot, 252-pounder also threw the power ball 41.5 feet and jumped 29.1 inches in the vertical, finishing with a 102.99 SPARQ rating. Howard currently holds offers from the likes of West Virginia, Pitt, Illinois, Cincinnati and several MAC schools.

Jon Reschke, LB, Brother Rice (Sterling Heights, Mich.)
An outstanding player who earned honorable mention all-state honors this past fall after totaling 130 tackles, the Michigan State commit finished the day with a solid 95.40 SPARQ rating. The 6-foot-2, 224-pound 'backer produced a 4.80 40, 4.25 shuttle, jumped 31.8 inches in the vertical and threw the power ball 35 feet.


Top Underclass Performer

Thaddeus Snodgrass ('14), WR, Springfield (Ohio)
There were several outstanding underclassmen that put up big numbers in Massillon, but Snodgrass gets the nod here. The 6-foot, 175-pound wideout ran a 4.64 40, a 4.33 shuttle, jumped 34.6 inches in the vertical and threw the power ball 37 feet for a 96.27 SPARQ rating. Toledo has already offered and Snodgrass projects as a major recruit on the rise.


Other underclassmen who impressed

LB Dante Booker ('14), 6-3, 210, St. Vincent-St. Mary (Akron, Ohio)
RB Sam Bruno ('14), 6-0, 176, Anthony Wayne (Whitehouse, Ohio)
DB Joe Siegenthaler ('14), 5-10, 170, New Albany (Ohio)
DB Darius West ('14), 5-10, 183, Lima Central Catholic (Lima, Ohio)
DB Dameon Willis ('14), 6-0, 193, St. Ignatius (Cleveland)


Below is a list of top five performers from each testing category. Stay tuned to ESPNHS.com and the Nike Football SPARQ Combine homepage the rest of the week for more coverage from the Massillon Nike combine.

Massillon Nike Combine Top Fives

SPARQ Rating
1. Michael Lawless, LB, 6-2, 203, Tuscarawas Central Catholic (New Philadelphia, Ohio)  113.43
2. Jesse Bray, WR, 6-0, 193, Wayne (Huber Heights, Ohio) -- 106.14
3. Heath Harding, RB, 5-10, 170, Dayton Christian (Dayton, Ohio) -- 105.45
4. Gary Jaycox, DB, 6-0, 204, Edison (Berlin Heights, Ohio) -- 104.64
5. Logan Cox, DB, 6-2, 186, Parkersburg South (Parkersburg, W.Va.) -- 104.61

40-yard dash
1. Jon-Marc Anderson, WR, 5-10, 162, Castle (Newburgh, Ind.) -- 4.43
2. Berkley Edwards, RB, 5-9, 181, Chelsea (Chelsea, Mich.) -- 4.51
3. Heath Harding, RB, 5-10, 170, Dayton Christian (Dayton, Ohio) -- 4.53
4. Eric Bridgett, RB, 5-10, 173, Hilliard Bradley (Hilliard, Ohio) -- 4.54
5. Billy Aaron, RB, 5-8, 175, Austintown Fitch (Youngstown, Ohio) -- 4.55

20-yard shuttle
1. Ashton Jackson ('14), RB, 5-9, 179, Trotwood-Madison (Trotwood, Ohio) -- 4.15
2. David Gaydosz, RB, 5-10, 186, Winfield (Winfield, W.Va.) -- 4.16
3. Tyler Shook, RB, 5-10, 167, Greensburg-Salem (Greensburg, Pa.) -- 4.17
4. Heath Harding, RB, 5-10, 170, Dayton Christian (Dayton, Ohio) -- 4.19
4. Matthew Santer, DB, 6-0, 175, Parkersburg (Parkersburg, W.Va.) -- 4.19

Kneeling Power Ball toss
1. Derek Brown ('14), OL, 6-3, 293, Ypsilanti (Ypsilanti, Mich.) -- 43 feet
1. Deon Drake ('14), LB, 5-11, 206, Cass Tech (Detroit) -- 43 feet
3. David Cline, OL, 6-3, 246, Bishop Rosecrans (Cambridge, Ohio) -- 42.5 feet
3. Harneet Gill, OL, 6-6, 240, Francis Howell (St. Charles, Mo.) -- 42.5 feet
5. Eight tied with 42 feet

Vertical Jump
1. Jakkar Bishop, DB, 5-10, 164, Mansfield (Mansfield, Ohio) -- 39.7 inches
2. Michael Vogel, DB, 5-6, 146, Waynesville (Waynesville, Ohio) -- 38.4 inches
3. Berkley Edwards, RB, 5-9, 181, Chelsea (Chelsea, Mich.) -- 37.8 inches
3. Heath Harding, RB, 5-10, 170, Dayton Christian (Dayton, Ohio) -- 37.8 inches
5. Ramal Iverson, DB, 5-11, 160, Olentangy (Lewis Center, Ohio) -- 36.9 inches