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Helmholdt Road Trip: Chicago Showcases

Ahmad Robinson
Ahmad Robinson (Josh Helmholdt / Rivals)

CHICAGO – The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in the Midwest brings football to the Windy City of Chicago. On Sunday, BOOM Football hosted its Best of the Best Showcase, and the annual EdgyTim MLK Underclassmen Showcase took place on Monday.

In the past, these events have been the jumping off points for top prospects like Rylie Mills, Javontez Spraggins and Tyler Nubin. The 2020 versions also saw several prospects break out who are bound to be top Power Five prospects. Here are some of the top storylines and prospects scouted in Chicago this week.



The 2019 BOOM Football Showcase was the first time we got to know Chicago St. Rita 2022 wide receiver Kaleb Brown. Even though he was just a freshman, Brown took home overall camp MVP honors that day. One year later, Brown holds seven offers from the likes of Illinois, Iowa, Michigan and Notre Dame, and is on the verge of being a national prospect. The ability to separate at will, the highlight reel receptions and crisp route-running were on display again from Brown on Sunday and he was able to grab sophomore MVP honors, however, he was edged for the overall MVP nod.

The overall MVP went to another sophomore, and this was a true break-out performance. Class of 2022 cornerback Ahmad Robinson transferred from St. Louis Cardinal Ritter following the 2019 season and is now at East St. Louis. He came to the BOOM Showcase with little fanfare, but quickly made a name for himself. Measuring 5-foot-10 and 177 pounds, Robinson looks the part physically, and also brings the skills and swagger to play cornerback at the highest levels. The recruiting process has not really begun yet for Robinson, but he will be a national-level recruit before all is said and done.


It was one year ago at this camp when Spraggins, a center from East St. Louis, broke out. He came to Chicago on Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2019 with zero offers, but signed with Tennessee last month and finished ranked as one of the top centers in the 2020 class. East St. Louis came strong again this weekend, bringing prospects to both the BOOM Best of the Best and the EdgyTim Showcase.

East St. Louis had top prospects at nearly every position on the field. Robinson took home the BOOM Football overall MVP award, and returned to have another strong showing at the EdgyTim Showcase on Monday. Class of 2021 tight end Scott Presson was one of the top offensive skill position players at the BOOM Football event. Presson is a little on the short side for tight end, but Toledo is in with an early offer and he definitely has FBS level ability.

Maybe the deepest position group East St. Louis sent to Chicago this week was offensive line, and the group consisted entirely of freshmen. Miles McVay (6-5, 320) has been a known name since these camps last year. He was one of two freshmen starters on the offensive line for an East St. Louis team that won a state title in 2019. The other freshman starter was Paris Patterson, a 6-foot-3, 320-pound offensive guard. He and fellow freshman offensive lineman, Zach Taylor (6-1, 310), showed strength that belied their age and were among the top performers at both events.

Four-star wide receiver Dominic Lovett, three-star wide receiver Keontez Lewis and three-star quarterback Tyler Macon spent the weekend in California, but drove up to Chicago for the EdgyTim Showcase after returning home Sunday night. Other East St. Louis prospects who proved to be among the best at their positions at one, or both, events were 2021 wide receiver Jaylen Reed, 2023 wide receiver Ryan Boyd, 2023 running back Marquise Palmer and 2022 safety Dallas Brown.


Chicago is synonymous with linebackers. Names like Butkus, Singletary and Urlacher form the backbone of football in the Windy City, and this weekend revealed new Monsters of the Midway on the high school level. Malachi McNeal of Warren Township is a prospect on the verge of an offer wave. The middle linebacker won junior MVP at the BOOM Football Showcase on his birthday, displaying toughness as well as range and the ability to effectively cover running backs and tight ends down the field.

McNeal was back on Monday for the EdgyTim Showcase, where he was joined by fellow 2021 Chicagoland linebacker Tyler McLaurin out of Bolingbrook High. We first saw McLaurin at the Lindenwood Mega Camp in St. Louis last June, and he looks like he has grown since then. McLaurin is a long and athletic outside linebacker with offers from the likes of Illinois, Nebraska and Purdue, and he should continue to add offers this winter and spring.


Several of the top performers at Monday’s EdgyTim Showcase reported plans to attend Wisconsin’s Junior Day on Feb. 1. Four-star Dominic Lovett and three-stars Keontez Lewis and Tyler McLaurin have yet to be offered by Wisconsin, but each is being recruited by the Badgers and will be in Madison for the Feb. 1 junior day.

A couple offensive linemen made their out-of-state drives worthwhile with impressive performances. Class of 2021 offensive tackle Jimmy Lansing was a prospect we had seen and been impressed with last summer, and he continues to develop his game. Lansing has grown from 235 pounds when we saw him last June, to 260 pounds now. That still looks light on his 6-foot-7 frame, but he anchors surprisingly well and is a good athlete.

Similarly, Spruceton Buddenhagen (6-6, 275) has the ideal frame for a young offensive tackle prospect. The south, central Iowa prospect is still just a sophomore and has some strength and technical growth ahead of him, but shows an intriguing skill set for a young lineman.

The top defensive lineman at the EdgyTim Showcase was Arlington Heights (Ill.) St. Viator 2021 defensive end Jeremiah Pittman. The 6-foot-2, 255-pound end does not have any offers and has only seen a little interest thus far from Northwestern, but he has the tools to play Power Five football. Pittman is a solidly-built, well-proportioned defensive lineman with an explosive first step who dominated nearly every rep he took on Monday. Expect to see him gain recruiting momentum this spring and summer when college coaches get a look at him live.

College coaches who recruit the Chicagoland area should start making Kenwood Academy a stop right away this off-season. The Broncos showed up to the EdgyTim Showcase with an impressive collection of freshmen and sophomore talent, especially at wide receiver. Class of 2022 receiver Lavor Lindsay, who holds an early Florida Atlantic offer, was the most impressive, but fellow sophomore receiver Jalil Martin and freshman receiver Logan Lester also stood out and showed high-level college potential.