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March 17, 2008

Five-Star talent in Midwest

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Around 400 of the Midwest's top players were in attendance at Rivals.com Five-Star Academy events in both Chicago and Michigan this past weekend.

Saturday's event at Naperville North High School attracted almost all of the top players in Illinois, and then Sunday's event at Michigan State drew a large crowd of elite players from Michigan, Indiana, Iowa and Ohio.

The highest ranked player to make it to the events this weekend was Oak Park, Mich., running back Edwin Baker. While Baker is currently unranked, expect him to make a high appearance in the updated Rivals.com rankings that will be released later this week.

And from eyeballing him in person, it's easy to see why he's a special running back.

Baker measured in at 5-foot-9 and a very solid 204 pounds. The early Michigan State commitment definitely was one of the most well put together players at either event this weekend.

Illinois' best offering at the event was Glen Ellyn (Ill.) Glenbard West offensive guard Chris Watt.

Also currently unranked, Watt is also expected to be ranked high in the updated rankings. As an interior lineman, there are few better than him in the country, and from his official 6-foot-3, 280-pound measurement, he's already built ready for college football.

Watt already has offers from teams like Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State and numerous others.

He'll be one of the hottest line targets not only in the Midwest, but in the nation.

Joining Baker in the Michigan State backfield in the future will be Larry Caper, and Caper joined Baker along with about 200 other players at the event in East Lansing.

Caper, who will keep his spot in the Rivals100 when it's updated, looked amazing physically.

Caper is taller than Baker and just as put together build wise.

He measured in at 5-foot-10 and 215.2 pounds without an ounce of fat on him.

Along with Watt, it's an amazingly strong year for linemen in Illinois, so it was great to get a chance to also eyeball Patrick Ward of New Lennox (Ill.) Providence Catholic and Leon Hill of Chicago Leo in person.

Ward looked long and lean at 6-foot-6 and 295 pounds, and Hill was definitely put together, measuring at 6-foot-4 and 320 pounds.

Another big lineman that people in the Midwest will be talking a lot about is Michael Schofield of Orland Park (Ill.) Sandburg. His name is just starting to emerge and after schools saw his film on Rivals.com, they're starting to come after him like crazy. Seeing him in person Saturday, showed why. He measured in at 6-foot-7 and 276 pounds. He's still got a lot of room to grow into his frame, too.

Michigan State was definitely well represented in East Lasing, as several other of their high profile commitments were in attendance.

Future four-star prospect Chris Norman of Detroit Renaissance definitely looked the part, coming in at 6-foot-2 and 219 pounds. Donald Spencer of Ypsilanti, Mich., also passed the eyeball test, measuring in two whole inches taller than previously listed. Spencer has continued to sprout up and is now 6-foot-4 and 197 pounds. The added size should definitely help him prove he's one of the Midwest's better receivers.

Another impressive looking player that officially became a Spartan later on Sunday was East Lansing, Mich., offensive center Blake Treadwell. He measured at 6-foot-2 and 270.6 pounds, and from a quick film review, he could emerge as one of the top centers in the Midwest. The Spartans definitely got a steal with him.

Sunday's event in Michigan also drew plenty of out of state prospects that have multiple offers.

Of the around 200 players there, guys like Lancaster, Ohio, linebacker Ryan Cheek (6-0, 232.2), Fremont (Ohio) Ross receiver Terence Davis (6-4, 208.6), Greenwood (Ind.) Center Grove quarterback Jordan Luallen (6-3, 195.4) defensive tackle Lendell Buckner (6-3, 341.6) of Chicago Leo and David Barrent (6-7 , 290) of West Des Moines (Iowa) Valley were in attendance.

Buckner was an interesting attendee because he is committed to Illinois, but he decided after the Rivals.com event to spend some time at Michigan State.

Regardless, it's easy to see why the Big Ten teams are going to battle over him. And Barrent was one of the most impressive looking players at either event over the weekend.

Both events also drew plenty of quality in-state prospects.

Some players that really passed the eyeball test at Michigan State were Shamari Benton (6-0, 194.8) of Birmingham (Mich.) Brother Rice, Aaron McCord (6-3, 275.6) of Detroit Crocket, Justin Semmes (6-1 , 222) of Orchard Lake (Mich.) Saint Mary's, Jeff Fantuzzi (6-3 , 277.8) of Macomb (Mich.) Dakota, Charles Chapman (6-6 , 264) of Carleton (Mich.) Airport, Reid Fragel (6-7 , 251) of Grosse Pointe (Mich.) South, Jeremy Gainer (6-1, 202.8) of Detroit Clarenceville, Zac Matthias (6-5, 292.2) of Hemlock, Mich., Hersey Jackson (5-11 , 213) of Allendale, Mich., and Ricky Clemons (6-4 , 298.4) of Flint Carman Ainsworth.

Tim O'Halloran of EdgyTim.com said a few guys that caught his eye on Saturday at Naperville North were Anthony Battle (6-3, 230) of Chicago Mount Carmel, Darrelynn Dunn (6-0, 200) of Bloomington, Anthony Wells (6-2 , 229) of North Chicago. Zachary Moore (6-5 , 235) of Chicago Simeon and Jon Budmayr (6-0, 200) of Marian Central Catholic.


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