The top three performers at Kirk Herbstreit's annual Varsity Football Series, which was conducted last weekend in Cincinnati, were linebacker Marty Hopkins of Chicago St. Rita, sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller of Wayne High School in Huber Heights, Ohio, and wide receiver Duron Carter of St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
They were the best of several standouts who demonstrated their skills as 12 teams from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Alabama and Tennessee participated in the two-day event at Paul Brown Stadium. Three games were nationally televised on CBS College Sports, including St. Rita's 28-21 victory over Lakota West.
Hopkins, a 6-3, 240-pound senior, has four MAC offers but he definitely is Big Ten material. He was one of the most dominating players there. He is quick to the ball, aggressive and can hammer ball-carriers. Not too many people talked about him in the preseason but they should be looking at him.
Hopkins' teammate, 5-10, 205-pound running back/safety David Marciano, is another player to stood out. He is an aggressive, tough safety, a blue-collar, typical Chicago Catholic League performer. He can play in the MAC.
Miller, a 6-2, 200-pounder, is one of the top 10 sophomores in the nation.Cincinnati offered him as a freshman.
Carter, son of former Ohio State and NFL star Cris Carter, had a 60-yard touchdown reception in his game. He is committed to Ohio State.
St. Thomas Aquinas is one of the most productive schools in the country. Senior linebacker Conor O'Neill, a 6-1, 200-pounder, is being recruited by Wisconsin and Purdue. And Brandon Linder, a 6-6, 265-pound junior tackle, will be one of the nation's top 100 prospects next season.
Illinois and Tennessee have offered 6-7, 285-pound tackle Matt James of St. Xavier in Cincinnati. He will be one of the most recruited offensive linemen in the nation next year.
St. Xavier, the defending champion in Ohio, also boasts 6-4, 260-pound senior defensive end Pat Muldoon, who is said to be leaning to Wisconsin over Virginia, Boston College, Cincinnati, Notre Dame and Michigan, and 6-3, 215-pound senior linebacker Luke Kuechly, who is being recruited by Northwestern, Boston College, and Stanford. Also attracting Division I interest is 6-4, 195-pound junior quarterback Luke Massa.
East St. Louis' Illinois-bound wide receiver Terry Hawthorne and teammate Kraig Appleton, who is expected to commit to Illinois, played well but sophomore wide receiver Keante Minor, a 6-1, 190-pounder, outplayed both of them. And junior running back Courtney Molton also looked good.
Other players who turned in splendid performances were 6-3, 210-pound wide receiver Josh Jones of Cincinnati Elder, who is committed to Cincinnati; 6-6, 250-pound senior offensive tackle Wesley Johnson of Montgomery Bell in Nashville, Tenn., who has offers from Auburn and Vanderbilt; 5-11, 195-pound junior linebacker Tyon Dixon of Cincinnati Colerain; and 6-2, 240-pound junior linebacker Tarlows Brown of McKeesport, Pa.
Cincinnati Moeller, one of the most storied high school programs in the nation, has four promising players--5-11, 170-pound senior wide receiver Tony Harris, who is drawing MAC interest; 6-3, 240-pound defensive end Sean McClellan, who is committed to Cincinnati; 6-2, 210-pound junior linebacker Nick Galvin; and 6-1, 200-pound sophomore linebacker Kendall Walker.
Others of note: 6-3, 205-pound junior quarterback Caleb Watkins of Middletown, Ohio, who has 4.5 speed, is attracting interest from Indiana, Michigan and Cincinnati and will be one of the most recruited quarterbacks next season; 6-9, 265-pound senior tight end Ed Hazelett of Warren Central in Indianapolis, one of nation's leading tight ends, who is being recruited by Oklahoma, Ohio State, Cincinnati, Kentucky and Louisville; and 6-2, 210-pound senior safety Zach Brownell of Prattville, Ala., who is drawing interest from Auburn, Alabama, Clemson and Vanderbilt.