The high school regular season has crossed its midway point in the Midwest so now is a good time to look at which players are exceeding or not playing up to the expectations their current rating would suggest.
Peters was on the cusp of four-star status coming out of his junior season, but we wanted to get some affirmation of his movement skills by seeing him in person. He did not work out at any of the events we covered in the offseason, however, so his rating remained unchanged. An early priority this season, the Kentucky commit was everywhere in a game we covered against Fairfield High in Week 3 of the high school season. That Peters plays with his hand in the dirt on most plays is not a concern, either, because the ability to play in space still exists, and on top of that he has shown no issue handling the point of attack.
This was a strong contender to move one way or the other with senior film because there has been so little to evaluate the Notre Dame commit on prior to this season. Our Notre Dame site, BlueandGold.com, was out to see Dirksen early in the season and got good film along with an in-person report on his physical development. Our initial evaluations based on limited film from previous seasons were not too far off, but this most recent analysis of his ability and development shows Dirksen’s rating is probably a little low from where it needs to be.
The first live game film of Ike has come out, and it affirms what we have seen in offseason camps. In this country just over two years, Ike had not played a high school game prior to this season after a series of moves ran against high school transfer rules. Now halfway through his first season of competitive football, Ike’s combination of size, strength and athleticism are overwhelming opponents. He is a little behind on some technical aspects of the position, like getting his hands in proper position quickly, but that is to be expected with such little background in the sport.
Northwestern’s running back commit in the 2018 class is off to a sensational start to his senior season, rushing for more than 1,200 yards in his first four games. Stats do not necessarily translate from high school to college, though, as the NFHS record book features many names who never sniffed a Division I offer. Bowser, though, shows a lot of similarities to the Wildcats' current starting tailback, Justin Jackson. An 11.44 100-meter guy, Bowser has good, not great, downfield speed, but what he does even better is get to top speed quickly. He also shows great balance and is a load for defenders to try and bring down.
I “discovered” Haskins two years ago when I was in St. Louis covering other prospects and he happened to be on the opposing team. What caught my eye - besides his 254 rushing yards on what was supposed to be a good defense - was Haskins' punishing running style despite being just a sophomore. I questioned, however, whether he would develop the speed and agility necessary to be a Power Five recruit. Early season film, though, shows excellent progress in those categories. Most of Haskins’ 12 offers are from mid-major programs, but Purdue has also offered and it would not surprise to see more Power Fives do likewise this fall.
Listed at 6-foot and 185 pounds, the concern we have with Wood is that he lacks the speed and quickness ideal for the safety position. He may be able to fit at a hybrid safety/linebacker role at the next level where he can play in the box and which mitigates his issues playing in space. Wood picked up his first Power Five offer during his sophomore season, but most schools recruiting him initially are no longer pushing as hard. He currently keeps in the closest contact with Kentucky, Rutgers, Ohio and Toledo.
Payton picked up offers from Florida and Syracuse before committing to Western Michigan in June. He is a flex tight end or H-back at the college level, and when we saw him as a junior he showed exceptional run-after-catch abilities. At just 6-foot-2, though, Payton has to continue to be well ahead of his peers in the explosiveness department to warrant his high rating, and we’re just not seeing the progression we would expect there so far this season.