Helmholdt's Takeaways: Kentucky prospects impress in Ohio
HILLIARD, Ohio – The Rivals 3 Stripe Camp presented by adidas took place in the state of Ohio this weekend, but you would not have known it from the roster of attendees. The majority of the day’s story was written by prospects from bordering states.
Rivals Camps in the state of Ohio have a history of being invaded by their neighbors, and the 2018 version was no different. Only one MVP award went to a state of Ohio prospect, while Detroit, Western Pennsylvania and even Kentucky were well represented by the day’s top performers. Three MVP awards went to Pennsylvania products, including a prospect in Clairton, Pa., linebacker Leonard Robinson who was a late addition to the camp and came in as a virtual unknown. Detroit took home one MVP award and that went to Cass Technical running back Jevan Swanigan. Attendance from the host state was weak, which has become the theme from a state that discourages anything to do with football in the off-season and has seen FBS production drop off dramatically in recent years.
NO SLEEPING ON JOWON BRIGGS
Cincinnati’s Jowon Briggs did his best to help Ohio save face. The four-star prospect was one of the top underclassmen on the entire 2017 Rivals Camp circuit and earned an invite to last year’s Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by adidas, but he put recruiting on the back burner when junior season started and has made few headlines since. Although there has not been a great amount of recruiting buzz on Briggs, he reminded us on Sunday of his ability with a dominant, MVP-winning performance. Physically Briggs looks like he lives in the weight room, and he plays that way. Interior offensive linemen just could handle his strength, and he combines it with impressive quickness for a player his size. Briggs’ recruitment is not expected to get hot until next fall, but Sunday’s performance should keep him at the forefront of the discussion for top available defensive tackles in the 2019 class.
SAM JOHNSON III HOURS AWAY FROM DECIDING
On the field, Walled Lake (Mich.) Western three-star quarterback Sam Johnson III was locked in stiff competition with several others for top honors at the position on Sunday. He performed very well, but you could forgive him if his mind was elsewhere. Johnson plans to announce his decision on Monday, hours after arriving back home from Sunday’s competition. The finalists are Boston College, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri and Syracuse. The strongest buzz seemed to be around Boston College and Missouri, but even Sam himself seemed to not know for sure who he would pick. Plans are in order to sit down with family tonight after he returns from Ohio and make a final call on which school he will announce for on May 7.
KENTUCKY CONTINGENT REPRESENTS WELL
With a Rivals 3 Stripe Camp next week in Nashville, only a handful of prospects from the state of Kentucky were in Columbus on Sunday. We’ll see a bigger group of Kentuckians down in Nashville due to their proximity to that camp, but the prospects from the Bluegrass State who were in Columbus made a big impression. The headliner was Frankfort wide receiver Wandale Robinson, who took home position MVP honors off of his showing. Another state of Kentucky prospect, 2020 Louisville wide receiver Izayah Cummings, was also in that MVP discussion late based on his play Sunday. Then, the quarterback position featured a pair of standout passers in Lexington Catholic 2020 quarterback Beau Allen and Frederick Douglas 2019 Cameron Jones. The Kentucky contingent in Columbus set a high bar for their fellow in-state prospects headed to Nashville next weekend.
Usually in these camps there are one or two position groups that are much stronger than the rest, but the depth of talent was pretty well dispersed across the positions on Sunday. At quarterback, Michigan prospects Dwan Mathis and Sam Johnson III kept pressure on eventual MVP Graham Mertz until the end. A pair of Detroit running backs in Jevan Swanigan and Peny Boone battled to the end for top honors at their position. Wide receiver saw a lot of big plays made by a variety of prospects, while the defensive back position was equally deep. Class of 2020 four-star Justin Rogers and class of 2019 four-star Doug Nester made Ja’quay Hubbard earn his Offensive Line MVP award, while on the defensive line there were impressive performances from ends, like Canton, Mich., three-star Darius Robinson, and tackles, including eventual MVP Jowon Briggs. No group dominated their opposite in one-on-ones, providing for some excellent competition throughout the day.