- Billy Tucker, Scouts, Football Recruiting
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Ohio State continues to put together an impressive 2009 class with a solid nucleus of in-state prospects, adding another piece to the puzzle this week with a pledge from Zach Boren (Pickerington, Ohio/North).
"The coaches are unbelievable and have a great relationship with their players," said Boren.
The tough, versatile linebacker/fullback also thought Ohio State was doing a great job recruiting for 2009 and wanted to be part of a class deemed "outstanding" in his eyes.
"What player wouldn't want to join this great class with the potential to compete for a Big Ten and national championship?" he said.
While the future Buckeye acknowledged he has been a homegrown fan for quite some time, the deal sealer may have been his older brother Justin's recent transfer from Michigan to Ohio State.
"I was still looking strongly at OSU before Justin's decision," said Boren. "It is now great to know I will have my brother watching over me again and will already have a close relationship with someone on the team when I get there."
Justin Boren, a Class of 2006 ESPN 150 offensive lineman, caused a stir with his decision to leave Ann Arbor reportedly from his dissatisfaction with the new Michigan coaching staff. A sophomore starter for the Wolverines last fall, Boren will need to pay his own way to OSU per Big Ten transfer rules and sit out the 2008 season per NCAA regulations.
In 2009, the brothers will have a chance to reunite on the field once again. Justin and Zach had a chance to play with each other at Pickerington North High School in the fall of 2005. As a freshman back, Zach ran behind his older brother, rated as the No. 2 guard in the country by ESPN Scouts Inc. The significance of those memories may soon pale in comparison to the much larger stage the Boren brothers will be sharing in Columbus.
"We're brothers, we get angry at each other now and then, but we also hang out a lot and work out together," Boren said. "It will definitely be special playing in front of close to 100,000 fans with him."
The 240-pound bruising fullback jokingly said his commitment will take a lot of stress off his parents' future travel schedule in the fall. Instead of potentially splitting their weekends between Ann Arbor and Columbus, now Mike and Hope Boren can find permanent seating in the Horseshoe.
TCU quietly building a strong class
Big recruiting news came out of Wichita Falls, Texas, this week with a verbal commitment from system-fitting quarterback Shavodrick Beaver (Wichita Falls, Texas/Rider) to Michigan Wednesday. In our eyes, there may have been an even more significant pledge out of Rider High School this week from Beaver's teammate and fellow ESPN 150 Watch List prospect Jurell Thompson (Wichita Falls, Texas/Rider), who will play for Texas Christian University.
Though the versatile Thompson had offers from more prominent BCS schools like Arkansas and Arizona State, he decided to stay close to home and play for TCU and Gary Patterson. The eighth-year head coach has done an unprecedented job with the Horned Frogs' program and has coached the team to four 10-win seasons in his tenure. Patterson also could make history on the recruiting trail with his first ESPN 150 prospect and has laid the foundation for potentially his best recruiting class to date in Fort Worth.
TCU already has commitments from eight prospects, with Thompson leading the charge. Though the competitive athlete may be a reach for the ESPN 150 at this time, TCU is still getting one heck of a prospect with the rare skills and versatility to develop on either side of the ball at the college level. Thompson displays great range and all the physical tools needed to mold into a quality high-point safety and has a decisive, downhill running style that should only improve as he continues to develop physically as a tailback.
Thompson could take handoffs from Casey Pachall (Brownwood, Texas), a tall, athletic gunslinger who passed up equally impressive BCS offers from schools like Notre Dame for TCU. There is no shortage of firepower on offense as A.J. Dugat (Dayton, Texas) is a dynamic, explosive, under-the-radar receiver with equally impressive skills at safety.
It's still early, but TCU is doing a great job despite often being the fourth or fifth rung on the Lone Star State's recruiting ladder, even lower when colleges like Oklahoma and Oklahoma State come poaching. New indoor practice facilities, future stadium expansion and a championship vibe led by a successful energetic head coach should continue to build one of the better TCU classes in recent memory.
Basketball or football?
Interesting week on the recruiting trail for 6-foot-8, dual-sport standout Brock Osweiler (Kalispell, Mont./Flathead). Currently rated an ESPN 100 basketball prospect (No. 96) by Scouts Inc., the one-time Gonzaga pledge who has the range to consistently drain the 15-footer committed to Arizona State this week -- for football. The news may not be shocking to recruiting fans, as Osweiler has striking size for a quarterback and a short list BCS offers, and has been gaining interest from other top BCS schools.
So what is the intriguing part to us? In our eyes, Osweiler's skills may be better suited for the hardwood than the gridiron. ESPN's No. 30-rated power forward recently saw his football stock drop, and his final national quarterback ranking projects to be much lower than his current positional status for basketball. Last weekend at the first round of regional Elite 11 camp in Fort Worth, Texas, the pro-style pocket passer did not show the great arm strength or accuracy we were expecting. In our opinion, Arizona State is getting a quality signal caller with a lot of upside, but basketball may be Osweiler's better fit.
Sleeper of the week
Once again, our sleeper of the week is an Auburn commit who attends Bessemer High School. ESPN 150 Watch List wide receiver Brandon Heavens (Bessemer, Ala.) had fewer than five offers when he committed to the Tigers this week, and skeptics may attribute his staggering numbers to a perceived inferior level of competition. However, it doesn't take long when watching his game film to see a very talented athlete with rare skills as a football player that would lead to dominating play -- on any level.
On film, Heavens exploded out of cuts as a receiver and concluded his junior campaign with 41 receptions for 1,236 yards and an eye-popping 30.1 yards per catch. As a back, he showed great vision, patience and explosiveness, rushing for 730 yards and seven touchdowns on just 43 carries (17 yards per carry). As a return specialist, he returned 12 kickoffs for 585 yards (48.8 average per return) and three touchdowns. He found the end zone two more times on punt returns as well. Heavens' jump-cut ability and lateral quickness in the open field may be as good as any skill player we have seen in this class.
Overall, Heavens is an in-state steal for Auburn and could become an instant weapon in offensive coordinator Tony Franklin's potent spread offense.
When the ink finally dried on signing day in February, Clemson boasted the signatures of 10 Under Armour All-American prospects in its No. 2-rated recruiting class. While it may be difficult to duplicate that number in '09, the Tigers certainly are headed that way.
The commitment from elite safety Craig Loston (Aldine, Texas/Dwight D. Eisenhower) this week already gives Clemson its third '09 All-American prospect. Loston joins outside linebacker Eric Fields (Warner Robins, Ga./Northside) and offensive tackle J.K. Jay (Greenville, S.C./Christ Church Episcopal).
Billy Tucker is a recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc. and has close to a decade of coaching experience at the college and high school level. Tucker has served as a recruiting coordinator for two nationally ranked Division II colleges. Most recently, he was the associate head coach and defensive coordinator for Merrimack College, which advanced to the Sweet 16 in the 2006 NCAA Division II playoffs.