I spent Sunday in Northeast Ohio, covering the Cleveland stop on Under Armour’s college football recruiting camp series. A little smaller than — but pretty similar to — Nike’s Opening camp series, the skills combine drew about 200 of the best prospects in the Midwest.
The most sought-after recruit who showed up at the camp didn’t play. That was Devontae Dobbs, the class of 2019’s top-rated offensive tackle on the 247Sports Composite. The five-star Belleville (Mich.) product is recovering from a torn right labrum and expects to be healthy for his senior season. Also sitting out was Dobbs’ high school teammate and four-star cornerback Julian Barnett. Both of them were impressive on last year’s camp circuit, and they’d have shown out if they were playing on Sunday.
Still, there was good talent on display. A position-by position breakdown:
The most touted in attendance were Michigan State commit Dwan Mathis from Oak Park (Mich.) and uncommitted Sam Johnson, a Michigan target from Walled Lake (Mich.) Western. (A bunch of the camp’s best players were either Michigan natives or players who have already given verbal commitments to Michigan schools.)
The timing of this camp made it even harder on quarterbacks than most camps are. Not only had the QBs never worked with these receivers before, but many of them were running drills for the first time since their seasons ended around November. That showed, as the quarterback play was sloppy throughout the day.
Mathis is a great athlete, and he lined up some at cornerback and receiver. He profiles as a dual-threat, run-often QB, which would be an interesting fit in Mark Dantonio’s more classically pro-style offense.
Johnson is a drop-back guy with a huge arm, and he flashed that at points. He has 16 offers and cited Michigan, Iowa, Boston College, and Central Michigan among the schools pursuing him hardest. He wants to play in a pro-style offense and sounds enamored with Michigan, which is considered the favorite to land him.
I liked Mark Waid of Girard (Ohio) and 2020 prospect MyJaden Horton of La Salle (Ohio). Waid’s lone offer at this stage is from Dartmouth.
The best was the current sophomore, Michael Drennen II, from Dublin (Ohio) Coffman. Drennen isn’t big — around 5’11 and probably not 200 pounds — but he’s lightning-quick and has great hands as a backfield pass-catcher. I bet Drennen eventually winds up at either Ohio State or Michigan.
He cited “the rivalry” between those two as one of the most appealing things about each, and they’re the early favorites to get him. He’s the early No. 11 back in the class of 2020, according to the Composite. He was the lone player to earn an invitation to Under Armour’s Future 50 camp after the season in Orlando.
Among 2019 players, Jevan Swanigan and Lew Nichols, both from Cass Technical (Mich.), were impressive. Nichols has listed offers from UCLA and Cincinnati.
My favorite was Mershawn Rice, a 6’2 athlete from Reynoldsburg (Ohio). Rice has nine offers already, including a handful of Power 5s. Indiana, Pitt, and Syracuse have all offered, and Rice should draw more interest as the year goes on. He’s a smooth route-runner with hands, size, and a cut build. Those players tend to get lots of offers.
Dante Cephas, from Penn Hills (Pa.), was also impressive. I didn’t get a chance to talk with him, but he’s visited Wisconsin and looked like a Power 5 receiver to me.
Dino Tomlin, a son of Steelers coach Mike, made a couple of nice catches on balls thrown hard and inaccurately. He’s small, but he was one of the best performers there.
This was best position group at the camp.
Zeke Correll, a four-star guard from Cincinnati Anderson, is a stud. So is Nolan Rumler, a four-star center/guard Archbishop Hoban in Ohio. Rumler is a Michigan commit.
Correll has offers from Ohio State, Notre Dame, Clemson, and Penn State, among others. “Those are some of the schools I could see myself playing at most, as of right now,” he told me. He could conceivably move to center but, at 6’3, says he’s too short for tackle.
Correll and Rumler were the only players to earn Under Armour All-America Game invitations, though others could get them later in the year.
I also liked Sharpsville (Pa.) left tackle Jaquay Hubbard. He has offers from Virginia, Mississippi State, and a handful of MAC schools. He’s planning a visit to Pitt the weekend of Feb. 24. He has a longstanding relationship with former Penn State offensive coordinator and current MSU head coach Joe Moorhead, which might help the Dawgs.
Dobbs, the headliner even though he wasn’t playing, told me he was planning visits to Ohio State, Georgia, and Notre Dame.
The camp featured two of the best in the country: Walnut Hills (Ohio) tackle Jowon Briggs and Lakota West end Steven Faucheaux. Both four-stars have been on national radars for at least a year now. Briggs is widely expected to commit to Notre Dame and Faucheaux to Penn State, but I got the sense that both of their recruitments remain fairly open.
Notre Dame “would be hard to say no to,” Briggs said, citing a good relationship with defensive line coach and associate head coach Mike Elston. Ohio State’s been in touch, and Michigan and Cincinnati have pushed hard for him.
“I’m just letting it all lay out in front of me, and I can parse through the details later.
Faucheaux says Tennessee’s been “really prominent” in his recruitment lately. He also mentioned relationships with Penn State, Ohio State, and Clemson. He has 17 or 18 offers, though the Buckeyes and Tigers aren’t yet among them.
Briggs is going to be a force as a three-technique defensive tackle. Faucheaux could realistically wind up anywhere on the line, but he’s more an end than a tackle.
Four-star defensive tackle Rodas Johnson is impressively agile for a big guy.
Non-contact camps are difficult environments for linebackers, because they aren’t allowed to hit and have to spend their time keeping up with smaller backs and receivers. In that context, though, Hilliard Bradley (Ohio) linebacker Cannon Blauser was impressive. I didn’t speak with him, but his listed offers include Louisville and a lot of MAC.
Barnett’s absence was a shame. Standouts included Shady Side Academy (Pa.) prospect Joey Porter Jr. and Aliquippa (Pa.) prospect M.J. Devonshire Jr. Both are physical corners.
Moses Douglass, a four-star safety from Springfield (Ohio), has offers from Michigan and Iowa among others, and might get one from Ohio State. I didn’t get to see much of Douglas at the camp, but others who have watched him often say he’s really good.