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Rivals Recap: Best of the Midwest Combine

Joseph Scates
Joseph Scates (

INDIANAPOLIS – The eighth year of the Best of the Midwest Combine featured top prospects living up to their high billing, newcomers making names for themselves as well as a pair of Big Ten four-star commits taking visits to other schools.

RELATED: Where will the Midwest's best commit in 2018?



Former NFL cornerback Marlin Jackson was working with the defensive backs and specifically pointed out Lupro as his top performer in the group. The Detroit-area prospect would go on to share MVP honors for the position. Lupro’s recruitment has been strangely quiet considering his name has been on the recruiting radar for the last year, at least. He came out again and locked down top receiver after top receiver, showing fluidity, speed and instincts in a solidly-built frame. Maybe Monday’s event was the kick start he needed to push colleges over the edge toward offers.

It was at this camp last year when Scates broke out and started to establish himself as one of the region’s best wide receiver prospects in the 2018 class. What we saw from the Michigan State commit this year was that same high ceiling, but a lot more polish from the four-star prospect. Already blessed with good size and speed, Scates now complements those attributes with very sharp route-running skills and the confidence that comes with having success against the best defensive backs. Although shorter, slot-type wide receivers won position MVP awards, Scates was the player we would have zeroed in on if we had one offer to give to today’s group.

Although his junior season ended three months ago, Thomas’ film is apparently just making the rounds because his offer list has nearly doubled in the last week with big-name programs like Alabama, Michigan and Ohio State making a move. He wants to play running back in college and that is where he worked out Monday, coming away with position MVP honors. Although we did not see a lot of it on junior film, Thomas was surprisingly smooth catching the football and running routes. He also proved his competitiveness during the one-on-one blocking drills with linebackers, driving several guys out of the play and showing a high motor.

It was at this camp last year that Adams first caught our attention, and he gave an impressive encore performance Monday. Physically, Adams has a good-sized frame and carries no bad weight. The kid looks like he lives in the weight room, and his game has benefitted as a result. Although we have not seen the official times, I was next to the timers when he ran his 40-yard dash and had him for an unofficial time of 4.50. Just as impressive as his physical skills are his ball skills. Adams can create space in a phone booth and possesses a sure set of hands.

Considering his extensive offer list, I had been underwhelmed with Hutchinson in previous evaluations. Monday, though, was easily the best I had seen from the three-star defensive lineman. One of the key improvements for Hutchinson over last season is that he has reshaped his frame and is now filled out and strong to go along with great height and length. That has noticeably helped him at the point of attack, and he also looks more explosive. Put that combination together and you start to see why his offer list has expanded rapidly this winter.



Samuel Obiang
Samuel Obiang (

The defensive line group featured several prospects with extensive offer lists. Obiang was not one of those guys, but by day’s end he was the top dog at the position. He could have fit in the top five above, but we specifically wanted to note him here as he is an under-the-radar 2018 prospect who will not stay that way for long if he can duplicate Monday’s performance. Although he lacks ideal height, Obiang compensates with his quickness, agility and raw power. He went punch-for-punch with four-star offensive center Tyrone Sampson, and few have been able to do that in the past.


Cameron McGrone
Cameron McGrone (

... Several top prospects in the region were in attendance, but did not work out. One of those was Indianapolis Cathedral four-star offensive guard Emil Ekiyor. A Michigan commit, Ekiyor has made news recently by taking visits to other schools, including Florida State and Georgia. His next campus visit is planned for this upcoming weekend when he is expected to travel down to Alabama. The buzz is that Ekiyor’s contact with Michigan has waned in the months since he committed to the Wolverines.

... Another four-star Big Ten commit who is visiting other schools this winter is Dayton (Ohio) Dunbar wide receiver Joseph Scates. He says he still feels good about the commitment he made to Michigan State last month, but there are a few schools he would like to check out, including Alabama where he plans to visit on Feb. 25 with teammates Tavion Thomas and Antwuan Johnson. He is also looking to schedule visits out to Penn State and Pittsburgh in the coming weeks.

... Three-star athlete Tavion Thomas, Scates’ teammate at Dayton Dunbar, is one of the hottest Midwest prospects over the last week. He just came away from a visit to Ohio State over the weekend where he received an offer from the Buckeyes, then picked another offer up from their rival Michigan following Monday’s camp. After this weekend’s upcoming visit to Alabama, Thomas wants to get out and see Georgia, Iowa and Rutgers in-person. It was obvious in talking with him that the offer from the in-state Buckeyes wowed him, but Thomas said he wants to take his time and make sure he gets to know the schools before he makes his college decision.

... Three-star Indianapolis Cathedral linebacker Hugh Davis was not working out at Monday’s combine, but he was watching the action from the sidelines. While he has watched his teammates and classmates, Markese Stepp and Emil Ekiyor, announce their commitments already, Davis is still weighing his options. Two schools have risen to the top, however, and they are Indiana and Cincinnati.

... Another player who has seen his offer list expand recently is West Chester (Ohio) Lakota West three-star linebacker Xavier Peters, and he is responding by visiting several of the schools that have offered. Cincinnati and Kentucky have both hosted Peters several times this winter, and he just came off his first visit to Louisville on Sunday. His next visit will be to Penn State on Feb. 25.

... Four-star Indianapolis Lawrence Central linebacker Cameron McGrone’s offer list is starting to get a national feel, but he got a new appreciation for a program in his backyard recently. During a junior day visit to Indiana, McGrone spoke with Hoosier senior linebacker Tegray Scales, whom McGrone said “changed my outlook on the school.” For now McGrone plans to keep doing his research on schools and has a trip scheduled to Louisville for March 4. He is also looking to visit Wisconsin, Vanderbilt and Iowa this spring.

... Among the players earning position MVP awards from the camp were Detroit East English Village four-star Tyrone Sampson and Indianapolis Franklin Central’s Payton Ditchley (offensive line), Detroit Cass Tech sophomore Jaren Mangham (running back), Dearborn (Mich.) Divine Child three-star Theo Day (quarterback), Reynoldsburg, Ohio sophomore Dezman Cooper (linebacker) and Columbus (Ohio) Academy sophomore athlete Jerome Buckner (wide receiver).