CANTON, Ohio - In the shadows of the NFL Hall of Fame, one of the nation's top junior prospects provided fans a glimpse of what could have him someday playing in the league himself. Alex Boone of Cleveland St. Edward is a very talented offensive tackle that stands a monstrous 6-foot-8 and 310 pounds.
Boone ended the recruiting suspense early when he committed to Ohio State last July after a strong performance in Ohio State's summer camp. He showed Buckeye fans a great glimpse of their future on Saturday night in a 21-13 Division I regional semifinal victory over Warren (Ohio) Harding.
To put it mildly, Boone is good enough to be ranked as one of the nation's top 100 prospects this year. After seeing four-star offensive tackle Brett Gallimore of Riverside (Mo.) Park Hill South this season in person and then looking at Boone, it would easy to put Boone as a higher-ranked prospect.
Not to knock Gallimore because he's a very talented prospect that should be an amazing college prospect and have an NFL future ahead of him, but Boone is simply special.
The first thing that jumps out about Boone is obviously his size. There is no question that he is a legitimate 6-foot-8 and he carries his 300-plus pounds with a thin, but sturdy frame that should easily add even more muscle mass in college.
His feet are also amazing for a big guy like that.
Against a smaller, but much quicker, Harding defensive line, Boone was able to not only push around the defenders but also to pass protect efficiently. But don't just ask us, ask the coaches that have played against him.
"The kid from St. Edward is really special," Shaker Heights coach Dave Sedmak said.
"He's a kid that obviously has great size, but he also gets after it. He's an aggressive blocker and is going all the way to the whistle. That's the biggest thing I like about him, and when you add in his size, you have yourself one of the better linemen that we've seen around here in a while."
St. Edward operates out of a wide-open and very diverse attack. On one play, Boone is driving blocking and pounding the guy across from him five-yards down field.
The next play, he's scooping and getting up to the linebacker or defensive back level. And then after that, he's putting his body into great pass protection position.
Once he locks on with his long arms and uses his strength, the game is over.
We've not even began to talk about his toughness and ability to take over a game. He exhibited both against Harding on Saturday night.
Midway through the third quarter with his team holding a two touchdown lead, Boone had two players roll up on his right leg and the pain was obvious on his face.
It would have been easy for him to sit a drive out with St. Edward leading, but he ran back out on the field and played through the obvious pain.
He also played the entire game with a huge wrap around his right elbow - he said he had a separated elbow - but he didn't let that bother him.
"Pain is only temporary," Boone said. "It is playoff time, and I'm not missing these games for the world."
Despite being banged up, Boone took the game over late in the fourth quarter when his team needed some key yards. Every time it was a short-yardage situation, the St. Edward coaches would run right behind Boone at right tackle. Even the quarterback sneaks that usually go right up the middle were slid down the line to Boone's tackle position, and he'd open up a big whole for two, three and even five-yard gains.
Boone said he was still very excited about his pledge to Ohio State - even though it'll be almost a year and a half before he can sign the national letter of intent.
"I love Ohio State," Boone said. "I'm an Ohio State Buckeye and have always been. Did you see how they played today?"
Being in Ohio, it was hard to miss the Buckeyes big victory over Michigan State at the Horseshoe on Saturday. But with his performance on Saturday it'll be hard to doubt that there will be more performances like that with Boone opening holes for Ohio State.