COLUMBUS, Ohio - Rivals.com analyst Brian Perroni breaks down three things we learned from the Nike camp/Elite 11 at Ohio State last weekend.
1. QBs are stronger than we thought
So far on the Elite 11 tour, the quarterback play overall has been a bit underwhelming. There have been a few prospects here and there that have been truly impressive but it has been disappointing as a whole.
However, the last regional event of the year certainly brought out the best. Four of the top seven quarterbacks in the latest rankings were on hand and most of them lived up to their billing. Gunner Kiel, the No. 1-ranked passer, was the most consistent performer of the day. Fellow Rivals250 prospects Jameis Winston and Tyler Matthews were very impressive as well.
In addition to prospects at the top, the depth of the class was shown too. Chad Kelly had a very good outing and, even though he didn't have a chance to show off his running ability, he proved to be a good passer as well. Other prospects such as Sean Maguire and Kentucky commit Patrick Towles certainly impressed too.
Overall, the Columbus Elite 11 was by far the best regional event of the tour. Though the quarterback position is still a bit down in the class of 2012, it helped show that it still has plenty of legitimate top prospects.
2. Midwest defensive linemen have a common flaw
The defensive line position was the most impressive group at the Columbus Nike Football Training Camp. It was not even close when compared with the depth at other spots. However, there was a common theme among nearly all of the top prospects in the group.
Unlike with other regions this year, the top defensive linemen from the Midwest all seem to be on the shorter side. Defensive ends Adolphus Washington and Se'Von Pittman, the two highest-rated linemen at the camp, both could end up as outside linebackers in college. Neither has the ideal height or length to play on the line. Michigan commit Mario Ojemudia is even smaller than the other two.
The defensive tackle position was more of the same. There were quite a few guys with very strong lower bodies that were able to get a good pass rush but they all lacked height.
Danny O'Brien and Sheldon Day are both four-star prospects but neither one is taller than 6-foot-2. They could have trouble stopping the run at the next level when they are playing against much bigger offensive linemen than they see in high school.
3. The class of 2013 looks strong
Though many seniors-to-be were impressive all weekend, it was some class of 2013 prospects that stole the show at times.
At the Elite 11 event, two of the most impressive quarterbacks were current sophomores. Matt Alviti and Michigan commit Shane Morris both held their own with their older counterparts. In fact, Morris won the quarterback MVP award at the camp on Saturday.
Outside linebacker Jaylon Smith, defensive end Taco Charlton and cornerback Cameron Burrows all had their position coaches raving on Saturday. Smith actually took home linebacker MVP honors ahead of several well-known juniors including Michigan commit James Ross. Running back Berkley Edwards, the younger brother of NFL wide receiver Braylon Edwards, showed flashes of brilliance as well.
Overall, if the Elite 11 and Nike Camps are any indication, next year should be another strong one across the Midwest.