Today was the first annual HYPE Showcase held at the High Velocity Sports complex in Canton, MI with some of the top in-state talent showing up to improve themselves through a variety of ways, including one-on-ones and a short 7v7 showcase as well. As always, there were a few performers who stood out in particular (2014 unless otherwise noted).
Herbert showed flashes of his big potential this afternoon.
DE Lawrence Marshall (Southfield, MI/Southfield): Marshall was the headliner and for the most part performed as such. He continues to build himself up and has become a potentially lethal combination of size and speed. He still can occasionally struggle against bigger defenders a bit, but still usually gets to the tackling dummy without much of an issue.
2015 OL Anthony Herbert (Lapeer, MI/East): The one lineman who was able to match up with Marshall consistently was Herbert. When lining up at the left tackle spot, Herbert was an incredibly difficult match-up for Marshall and was able to even throw him to the ground on one rep for a dominating victory. Herbert is still young and learning technique, but has a lot of potential going forward. Michigan, Florida State and LSU have all invited him to camp this summer and he's currently planning to attend the first two.
TE/LB Kyle Rachwal (Lapeer, MI/East): Rachwal excelled mostly during the 7v7 event, where he showed an ability to get past defensive backs and made the play of the day on a nice one-handed grab over the middle for a late touchdown. Michigan is looking at him from a linebacker or fullback standpoint, but playing tight end you can see he has the athleticism to play either one of those positions. It can be tough playing tight end in a 7v7 format, but Rachwal did an excellent job at this combine and has improved since I saw him last.
CB Jalen Watts-Jackson (West Bloomfield, MI/Orchard Lake St. Mary's): Watts-Jackson, who recently got his second offer from Eastern Michigan, plays an almost effortless cornerback in terms of his fluidity in motion and also his ability to cut in front of receivers. He stands about 6' even, but plays longer than that as well. He's another prospect who is likely to see some more offers this spring and summer period. Iowa and Michigan State are among the Big Ten programs to have shown interest at this point.
QB Travis Smith (Ithaca, MI/Ithaca): At one time, Smith was a name connected heavily to Michigan. Today, he showed that he has considerable ability, mixing in a nice array of passes to his 7v7 receivers. The arm strength is what was most impressive to me, however. Smith can wing the ball. What might separate him from other quarterbacks in his class is that he can wing it on the spot though. I can see why Michigan gave him some strong looks during their evaluation period.
Other Standouts: St. John's (MI) WR Josh Hafner was a nice surprise. His school runs the Wing-T offense, possibly hindering his progress as a potential college prospect. He's long, but is quick and runs excellent routes and showed good hands today. If he can break free of a run-heavy offense, he could get some looks his senior season.
Cass Tech's Mike Weber gets a lot of the publicity, and rightfully so, but his sophomore RB teammate Keontae Carpenter was a very impressive physical specimen himself and showed good burst and quickness in one-on-one drills. Look for his name to pop up in the future.
Detroit (MI) King WR Omari McCauley is a transfer who is primed to make an impact for the Crusaders this season. He fits the smaller, slot type mold, but consistently created separation when given space and was wiry enough to maneuver out of physical play at the line.
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