INDIANAPOLIS -- The annual Best of the Midwest Camp again took place on President's Day, and many of the region's top prospects showed up and showed out. At day's end, though, the camp's top-ranked prospect in the Rivals100 came out as the top performer. We bring you a sweet 16 of top performers from Monday's event.
Last fall Lattimore proved to be one of the Midwest's top playmakers in the 2014 class, but no one had seen him in a camp setting, seen how his skill set would match up against other Division I athletes. He passed that test with flying colors on Monday. Lattimore signed up at wide receiver but ran most of the day at cornerback. At 6-foot and 185 pounds, he is a big, fluid cornerback with superior coverage skills. He also tested exceptionally well, running two 4.4 40-yard dashes and broad jumping 10 feet.
Frey was a standout at the U.S. Army Junior Combine last month, earning second-team all-combine honors. Listed at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, Frey is not the biggest linebacker but plays like he is. His competitive streak got the best of him on occasion, but his performance was unquestionably outstanding. Frey has great coverage abilities in space, but he showed in the pass-rush drill he is also very physical at the point of attack and was dominant against opposing running backs.
The camp was dubbed the "Best of the Midwest," but North Carolina native Hines crashed the party and walked away with wide receiver MVP honors. Listed at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, Hines has good size but may best fit at the slot receiver role. He is extremely quick in and out of his breaks and was very effective in the short and intermediate passing game. Hines holds three early offers from mid-major programs, but he looked like a prospect who will be getting BCS calls soon.
4. Brandon Lee, LB, Indianapolis (Ind.) Lawrence Central
Lee looks all of his listed 6-foot-3 and still is a lean 200 pounds. There is no doubt he has great length, however, and he uses it to his advantage in getting leverage on opposing players. He is not especially physical at the point of attack, yet he fared extremely well in the pass-rush drills because his agility is outstanding. He has an explosive first step and changes direction instantly. If he can show the ability to add weight, and subsequently strength, Lee's stock will shoot through the roof.
Clark has seen a dramatic rise in his stock since he took home honorable mention all-combine accolades at the U.S. Army Junior Combine last month. Indiana has since offered, and on Monday Clark was looking to increase his profile further. The 5-foot-11, 171-pound cornerback has great ball skills and the speed to run with top wide receivers, but he also plays a physical brand of football. Several times, he got in the face of a bigger wide receiver and would not let him off the line of scrimmage.
There are few prospects in the Midwest who enjoy competition more than the 6-foot-3, 290-pound Barron. On Monday, he took most of his reps from the center position and did a good job simulating a snap and quickly getting into his pass set. Once Barron locks on, it is game over. He combines strength and technique to manhandle opposing linemen, and he has decent footwork. Expect Barron to populate these lists often throughout the spring because he loves to camp and always shows up to compete.
Defensive back was by far the deepest position group at Monday's camp, and Embry was one of the best in attendance. He has similar size (5-foot-11, 170) to Clark, and their games are similar. Embry also was physical with receivers at the line of scrimmage, but he had the recovery speed to stay with those who got by him and he had his hands on a number of passes throughout the day. Embry holds two early offers from MAC schools and appears in line to grab more.
Camp settings do not always showcase safeties well because they are often forced to play out of position at cornerback. Despite this, West keeps showing up at these camps … and keeps displaying uncanny coverage skills for a safety prospect. Free safety is definitely the 5-foot-11, 189-pound prospect's best position, but he is fluid enough to flip his hips and run with receivers and disciplined enough to play press coverage. It is a deep year for safeties nationally, and West continues to prove he is among the best.
Admittedly, Jones' performance on Monday was surprising. The Ohio State commit is a big, powerful kid at 6-foot-4 and 325 pounds, but based on what we saw from him in the fall there were a lot of rough edges and he did not appear to have the drive to smooth them. Monday was an inspired performance, however, as Jones tried to jump in on every rep and used his strength to overwhelm defensive linemen. He is far from a finished product, but this performance was encouraging.
We have been hearing for the past year that the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Cornell was the next big thing out of tradition-rich Cretin Derham Hall, and on Monday the sophomore delivered on that hype. Outside of one rep on which Jones got the best of him, Cornell dominated his one-on-one matches, showing a combination of speed and power. If his initial route was stymied, Cornell did an outstanding job of coming back with a second move -- rare for a young defensive end.
Like West, Smith was forced to play out of position at cornerback during the one-on-ones but proved up to the challenge. He locked down wide receivers and won the majority of his repetitions. In pass skeleton, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Smith was back in his element, showing his great range and covering a large swath of the field. A four-star prospect with a slew of early offers, Smith has areas of improvement but plenty of talent to justify his four-star rating.
The surprise of the camp goes to Wezensky, a freshman quarterback at Fort Wayne power Bishop Luers. Quarterback was not an especially deep position at Monday's camp, but there were several known names throwing the football. The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Wezensky outshone them all, however, taking home quarterback MVP honors. The ball comes out of his hand beautifully, and he shows remarkable touch on his deep ball. This is a player to watch for the next several years.
At 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, Tranquill was one of the biggest defensive backs in attendance, and he showed well in coverage and came down with a big interception during 7-on-7 play. Tranquill moves well for a big safety and covers a lot of ground in that center field role in the defensive backfield. He anticipates well and closes down passing lanes, making it difficult for quarterbacks to throw downfield. Although we did not get to see it at this camp, his size should make him an asset in run support.
Long took home position MVP honors at day's end, but most impressive was the way the 6-foot-5, 235-pound Long has continued to develop physically since we last saw him over the summer. He was always a prospect who jumped off the field and had the look of a Division I tight end prospect, and he only continues to develop in that department. Long is developing his game as well, showing better ball skills and refining some of the more technical aspects of his position.
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Hendrix is not the biggest linebacker, and he will need to bulk up, especially in the lower body, before he gets to college, but he was easily one of the most explosive linebackers at Monday's event. Everything Hendrix does is sudden, and he surprised a lot of his opponents with his speed and change-of-direction ability. Hendrix is also an outstanding competitor who seemed to enjoy mixing it up in the pass-rush drill.
We saw a lot of Redding last offseason, and he showed good potential. He grabbed an early offer from Indiana. Listed at 5-foot-9 and 190 pounds, Redding reported a 4.59 40-yard dash during testing, which is a good number for the eastern Ohio back. Where Redding really showed well was in the pass-rush drill against linebackers. He has natural blocking technique and was physical with linebackers who almost always outweighed him. By day's end, Redding had taken home position MVP honors.