The first two weekends of high school football in the Midwest are in the books and Midwest National Recruiting Analyst Clint Cosgrove has already seen some of the top players in the region. Here are takeaways from the first few games:
RIVALS RANKINGS WEEK
Sunday: Who should be the No. 1 prospect in the 2024 class?
Monday: Five-Star Countdown
Tuesday: New Rivals250 released
Wednesday: Offensive position rankings released | Programs with the most R250 commits
Thursday: Defensive position rankings released
Friday: State rankings released
CBC’s Jeremiyah and Jeremiah
Jeremiyah Love and Jeremiah McClellan are two of the Midwest’s best and they each showed why for different reasons over the weekend.
Love didn’t play a ton because CBC was in control of the game and he was having some issues with cramping. While Love’s speed and cutting ability were both evident throughout this somewhat limited game evaluation, it was his added size and ability to play corner which stood out most. When Milton (GA) four-star receiver Debron Gatling got off to a quick start, CBC countered by putting Love at corner and the high four-star running back from St. Louis thrived. Even though the sample size was limited, Love flashed the ability to be a five-star caliber defensive back.
We already knew he was capable of playing running back at a high level in college, but his newfound talent on the defensive side of the ball makes you wonder if that could be where his highest ceiling lies. Love’s recruitment remains open with Alabama, Texas A&M, Notre Dame and Michigan appearing to be top contenders for his pledge.
Following a big sophomore season and a fantastic off-season on the camp circuit, Jeremiah McClellan’s ability as a playmaker was well documented. A lot was expected from him going into the first game and he exceeded those expectations in just about every way possible. McClellan showed that he has taken the next step in his development with plays like his one-handed touchdown catch – where he showed an extra gear that we may have not seen in the past. While nothing he did was necessarily out of character for the 2024 receiver, his performance over the weekend proved that he is one of the top overall players in his class. McClellan has a number of notable offers including Michigan, Missouri, Michigan State, Arizona State, Notre Dame and Oregon.
East St. Louis is loaded with talent
The matchup between Baltimore (Md.) St. Frances and East St. Louis (Ill.) had about as much talent as you will find in a single high school game. For every one of the Flyers’ national recruits like Alabama commit Miles McVay and Arkansas commit Paris Patterson, there was a lesser known player who has flown under the radar or is still making a name for themself. There were four East St. Louis players who fit this description in particular.
Illinois linebacker commit Antwon Hayden has the frame and athletic ability to be a big time player at the college level. He is better than advertised and with continued play like we saw over the weekend – he should have a chance to be in the four-star conversation at the end of the season. The Illini could be getting a major steal here.
Class of 2025 defensive back recruit Sael Reyes was great during the Rivals Camp Series events and has a number of major offers to his name, but remains a relatively under-the-radar name on a national level. Reyes proved capable against both the run and pass while also putting his next level speed on display during a big interception return. He is definitely a player that you will be hearing more about in the coming years.
Marquise Palmer may not have multiple Power Five offers to his name, but he could be the pound-for-pound hardest hitter I’ve seen in high school football. The 2023 athlete recruit plays the game hard and comes with bad intentions every play. His ability to make plays in multiple phases of the game should make him a more sought after recruit as the year goes on. Iowa State is one Power Five school that has already shown interest in his talents.
Class of 2025 running back recruit Taryan Martin has an early Power Five offer from West Virginia and really impressed overall during Saturday’s game. He runs hard, has great balance and is hard to bring down. Martin also displayed his ability to be a difference maker in the passing game and on special teams over the weekend.
Four-star running back Corey Smith is the real deal
Corey Smith has four-stars and multiple Power Five offers for a reason, so it was not shocking to see him run for four touchdowns during his first game of the season. The amount he has developed since we first saw him at the Rivals Camp Series in Indianapolis on the other hand was a little surprising.
Smith impressed on the camp circuit during spring, but has made some major strides and taken the next step in his development since. His ability to cover a ton of ground while appearing to move at the same speed as those around him was really impressive. There were times during the game where it looked like he had only gained a couple of yards when in reality he had hit an explosive play. Long striders with the ability to cut on a dime are not a skill combination that you often find, but Smith has some of the best feet that I have seen out of a midwest running back in a while. His game speed and ability to transition from speed to power in a confined space are a couple of his other strengths that really stood out.
Smith’s recruitment is far from over as a number of teams are sure to enter the mix for his services in the coming months. Wisconsin, Iowa, Notre Dame, Tennessee and Minnesota are just a few of the early contenders in the Wisconsin running back’s recruitment.