The Lifting As We Climb Foundation, organizers of the heavily attended Detroit Sound Mind Sound Body Camp, was looking into opportunities for junior prospects to showcase themselves before the spring combine season and kick off their recruitments earlier. Their solution was the Best of the Midwest Showcase.
This year, the Best of the Midwest Showcase will take place on Feb. 20 at the University of Michigan's adjoining indoor football facilities - The Glick Fieldhouse and Oosterbaan Fieldhouse. Adidas is the presenting sponsor and the instructional aspects of the camp will be run by Grand Rapids (Mich.) Community College head coach Tony Annese and his staff.
Last year's inaugural Best of the Midwest Showcase - known originally as The Michigan Showcase - was extremely successful, featuring at least 20 prospects who are expected to sign letters of intent with BCS Conference schools next week and many more who will be signing with other programs at various levels of college football.
Several of those prospects came into the 2010 Best of the Midwest Showcase with little fanfare, but used their performances in Ann Arbor to catapult themselves into heavy college interest.
Chicago Simeon offensive lineman Chris Bryant had just three offers before last year's event, but is now ranked as the nation's No. 203 prospect. Madison Heights (Mich.) Madison cornerback Valdez Showers had just two offers before the event, but ended up choosing Florida over the likes of Michigan, Auburn and Michigan State in August.
Other prospects currently ranked four stars who attended last year's Best of the Midwest Showcase included wide receiver DeAnthony Arnett (Tennessee), safety Eilar Hardy (Notre Dame), running back Justice Hayes (Michigan), cornerback Raymon Taylor (Michigan), linebacker Lawrence Thomas (Michigan State) and running back Remound Wright (Stanford).
Class of 2011 members were not the only ones who utilized the Best of the Midwest to further their reputation, though. Class of 2012 Detroit Cass Tech teammates Royce Jenkins-Stone and Terry Richardson sent notice with their play that they would be prospects to watch going forward. They have since each picked up multiple offers from Division 1 programs and are two of the top prospects at their positions in the Midwest for 2012.
Richardson and Jenkins-Stone will return to attend this year's version of the Best of the Midwest Showcase. Among those already committed to joining them will be Flint (Mich.) Powers Catholic defensive tackle Danny O'Brien, Chicago Simeon offensive tackle Jordan Diamond and Southfield (Mich.) cornerback Leviticus Payne - each of whom already boasts offers.
Several high school programs from the Cleveland area, Chicago area, Detroit area and elsewhere are also planning to send their top players to the invitational.
As was the case last year, next month's showcase will feature position work led by the Grand Rapids Community College coaching staff along with plenty of 1-on-1 and 7-on-7 competitions. There is no combine-type testing done at the event.
Registrations are currently being accepted and can be completed at the following link: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/1141049911.