ESPN and Scout’s Inc. have released their first list of the top 150 football players in the country and Ohio boasts six players amongst the nation’s elite gridders.
But should there be more than six from the Buckeye State included in the rankings?
There is never any shortage of high school football talent in Ohio and the class of 2009 is no different.
With the first release of the ESPN 150 rankings of the top players in the country, the Buckeye State is well represented with six gridders among the nation’s elite players but there are several conspicuously missing from the list.
Let’s took a look at the Ohio players the self-proclaimed ‘Worldwide Leader in Sports’ have recognized and those that should have joined them:
Topping the list of the Ohio contingent is Clayton Northmont cornerback C.J. Barnett, who is rated as the No. 73 player in the country. Barnett (6-1, 175) had 59 tackles and three interceptions as a sophomore and 60 tackles and three interceptions as a junior for the T-Bolts.
He became the sixth verbal commitment in Ohio State’s 2009 recruiting class committing to the Buckeyes in February.
Boasting a 4.0 GPA, Barnett also ranked as the No. 8 player in his class by Ohio High magazine recruiting editor Duane Long.
Coming in at No. 78 is big offensive tackle Marcus Hall of Cleveland Glenville. Hall, (6-5, 290, 5.35 40) has started for the Tarblooders since the beginning of his sophomore year and is entertaining scholarship offers from Ohio State, Iowa, West Virginia, Florida, Florida State, Michigan, Alabama, Illinois, Oklahoma and others.
Long ranks Hall No. 3 in the state for the class of 2009.
Youngstown Liberty safety and Michigan recruit Isaiah Bell is ranked No. 91 by ESPN. Bell (6-1, 209) started at safety and returned punts and kickoffs during his junior season. He made close to 50 tackles and intercepted four passes.
Bell, who reports 4.52 speed and committed to the Wolverines in March, is ranked No. 28 by Long and is an Under Armour All-American Game selection.
On the heels of Bell in the rankings is Pickerington Central safety Jamie Wood. At No. 93 Wood (6-2, 185) is an Ohio State recruit becoming the eighth verbal in the class for head coach Jim Tressel in February.
Wood, who has 4.48 speed, won a varsity letter as a freshman for the Tigers. He was a starter at wide receiver his sophomore year and started at both wide receiver and cornerback his junior season. Last year, he had 25 catches for 548 yards and eight touchdowns on offense and 65 tackles, 12 pass break ups and one interception on defense.
Long ranks Wood as the No. 10 best player in Ohio’s class of 2009.
Another Ohio State recruit, although originally an Illinois verbal, comes in next at No. 107 in the national rankings. Garfield Heights defensive end Melvin Fellows (6-4, 245) made a verbal commitment early to the Fighting Illini before rescinding his pledge and committing to the Buckeyes in April.
A starter as a sophomore, Fellows tallied 70 tackles, including 10 sacks, in his first year on the field for the Bulldogs. For his career, Fellows has 154 total tackles (57 solo’s, 97 assists), 40 tackles for a loss and 11 sacks.
Fellows is ranked as the top player in Ohio for the class of 2009, according to Long and is an Under Armour All-American Bowl selectee.
Rounding out the Ohio delegation in the ESPN 150 is Toledo St. John’s center Jack Mewhort. Mewhort (6-6, 285) is also a Buckeyes verbal becoming OSU’s fifth commitment for the 2009 recruiting class last December.
Mewhort, who has 5.35 speed, has been a varsity starter for the Titans since his sophomore year.
He is ranked No. 21 in Ohio by Long and will join Bell in the Under Armour All-American Game.
Where’s The Love?
Several of Ohio’s top players are clearly missing from the ESPN 150 that I believe are worthy of a spot in ESPN’s list.
Ohio State recruits Storm Klein, Johnny Simon, Chris Fields, Corey Linsley and Adam Bellamy are all ranked in Long’s top 20 in the class but are absent from ESPN’s list.
Klein and Simon are ranked in the top 100 in the country by other recruiting services and are legitimate contenders for the ESPN rankings.
ATH DeeJay Hunter, a Tennessee recruit, had 108 tackles as a junior with three sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He also had 11 returns for 312 yards and a touchdown but is absent from the ESPN 150.
Big Ten recruits also worthy consideration ranked in Long’s top 30 but aren’t acknowledged by ESPN include Massillon ATH Justin Turner (Michigan), Portsmouth OL Nate Cadogan (Penn State), North Royalton TE Dan France (Michigan State) and Pickerington Central CB Pat White (Michigan State).
Another Portsmouth OL John Prior is headed to Florida State.
A pair of West Virginia recruits in Dresden Tri-Vally OG Ryan Spiker and Medina Highland LB Chris Snook could make a case for the ESPN 150 as well as Cleveland St. Ignatius linebacker and Notre Dame recruit Dan Fox.
Cincinnati St. Xavier DE Pat Muldoon, who has over 30 scholarship offers and is considering the likes of Ohio State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan State, Virginia Tech and Boston College, is ranked No. 26 in the state and seems like a no-brainer as one of the top 150 players in the country.
Cincinnati Sycamore RB prospect Bud Golden has Illinois, Indiana, N.C. State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Minnesota and Cincinnati – to name a few – all vying for his talents.
He is rated No. 17 in Ohio by Long.
Another prospect from the Queen City with major college interest is DE Cornelius ‘Tank’ Carradine. He has offers to Illinois, Cincinnati, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Wisconsin.
Long has Carradine rated No. 5 in the state.
Just a short trip north on I-75 from Cincinnati, Hamilton DE Denicos Allen has offers to Iowa, Louisville, Northwestern, Purdue and Marshall, to name a few, and is ranked No. 13 in Ohio by Long.
Even further north on I-75, Trotwood-Madison OL and No. 14-ranked Chris Freeman has offers from Florida, Florida State, Kentucky, Michigan, Nebraska, West Virginia and Wisconsin in hand.
Another big OL with Big Ten interest is No. 20-ranked Jake Brandt of Columbus Bexley, who has offers from Illinois, Cincinnati and MAC schools.
Cleveland Glenville CB Mike Edwards, ranked No. 24 by Long, has offers to Illinois and Indiana.
No. 22 and No. 23-ranked Will Studlien of Sunbury Big Walnut and Youngstown Ursuline’s Darrell Mason each have scholarships Big Ten and Big 12 schools, respectively.
Not to say that all the players I have listed above should be in the ESPN 150 but you would at least think the players committed to or with offers to the Midwest’s ‘Big Four’ (Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Notre Dame) or the top SEC schools would be among the country’s top 150 players.
To the credit of Scott Luginbill of Scout’s Inc., which assists ESPN in compiling its rankings, he writes in his analysis of the top 150, “…on the back end of the 150, for each of the prospects ranked from 101-150 in this first edition, there are another 50 or 60 prospects right on the cusp who are deserving and could find themselves jumping in and out of the rankings leading up to signing day.”
So, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if more players from Ohio crack the ESPN 150 – or if any drop out.
LSU, Texas and USC lead the way with each having nine recruits ranked in the ESPN 150. Georgia and Ohio State are tied with six players listed and Clemson is close behind with five.
Rounding out the top nine is Florida, Notre Dame and Oklahoma each with four recruits in the top 150.
Taking The Throne
The top ranked player in the country, according to ESPN and Scout’s Inc., is Santa Ana (Calif) Mater Dei quarterback Matt Barkley. Barkley (6-3, 222) became the first non-senior to win the National Gatorade Player of the Year award in 2007 passing for 3,576 yards and 35 touchdowns with nine interceptions for the Monarchs.
Barkley is a USC recruit.
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