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September 1, 2012

Midwest top performers


MORE: Midwest mailbag

Rivals.com Midwest recruiting analyst Josh Helmholdt looks at the top performers from four games in Detroit and Toledo this week.

1. David Dawson, OL, Detroit Cass Tech: No one jumped out and ran away with the overall top performer nod from the games I saw this weekend, but Dawson played up to his four-star and Rivals250 billing, earning the top spot. Cass Tech destroyed Detroit Northwestern 57-0 Friday afternoon and Dawson only got a half of work, but despite his team running away with the game the 6-foot-4, 282-pound lineman went 100 percent every snap he played. Northwestern had some good size along their defensive line, but Dawson's strength, quickness and especially his technique overwhelmed the opposition.

2. Derek Edwards, OT, Detroit Catholic Central: The 6-foot-5, 270-pound Edwards made a commitment to Central Michigan in July over offers from Arizona, Toledo and Western Michigan, and it looks like the Chippewas got themselves a steal. Edwards has a great offensive line build. He is tall and lean with an athletic frame. Edwards does a good job engaging defenders, and continues to keep his feet moving once he locks on. He is an athletic offensive lineman who should be able to stay at the tackle position in college. Edwards also doubled as a defensive tackle and made some great plays from that side of the ball as well.

3. Maurice Ways, WR, Detroit Country Day (2014): Ways would have been in strong consideration for the top overall spot on this list except for a key drop on 4th and 15 with his team down a point. The pattern was a post and Ways had separated from the defensive back. His quarterback put it on his number, but he simply dropped it and U-D Jesuit went on for the win. Up until that point, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound junior was putting on a show -- catching passes with defenders draped on him, high-pointing the football for great leaping grabs and keeping his feet in-bounds on sideline receptions. In general, Ways shows soft hands, does not let passes get into his body and has a wide catching radius.

4. Jourdan Lewis, CB, Detroit Cass Tech: While Dawson was doing something on every play, Lewis only had a couple of chances to make an impression on Friday and made the most of limited opportunities. Early in the first half he fielded a short punt at the opponent's 28-yard line and sprinted untouched into the end zone. He did the same on the opening kickoff of the second half, this time going 88 yards for the score. Lewis did have two opportunities to catch touchdown passes but he tried to add to his highlight reel and attempted pulling them in one-handed. We have already seen Lewis makes plays on big stages and would like to see him make the spectacular look easy instead of trying to make the easy look spectacular.

5. Marquise Moore, DT, Toledo (Ohio) Whitmer: We were impressed with Moore all offseason and he gave us reason again on Friday night to sing his praises. Whitmer needed his skills at defensive end this year, and he does a great job wreaking havoc from that spot. In college he will likely be a nose tackle due to his 6-foot-1, 270-pound frame, though. Moore has a low center of gravity and stays low out of his stance. He displays quick hands and plenty of strength, but maybe most impressive was his motor running throughout the game, evidenced by two fourth quarter sacks that helped his team secure a win. Moore is staying home and has committed to the University of Toledo.

6. Dennis Finley, OT, Detroit Cass Tech: Like Dawson, Finley kept up a high level of intensity throughout the first half of his team's 57-0 win over Detroit Northwestern. It is difficult to not get lax when you so thoroughly overmatch your opponent, but the entire Cass Tech team did a good job staying up throughout the game. Finley's greatest asset at the offensive tackle position is his length. He is closing in on 6-foot-8 and weighs a solid 285 pounds. The struggle at that size is to be a good knee-bender and not sacrifice technique. Finley needs to stay constantly mindful of that and keep his chest high instead of playing hunched over. He gets away with it now because of his physical gifts, but will need to correct it in college.

7. Malik McDowell, DE, Detroit Loyola (2014): Loyola had the same "problem" Cass Tech faced in that it got up big early and had its starters on the bench by the middle of the second quarter in a 58-14 win. McDowell, one of the nation's top 2014 prospects, actually was on the sidelines by the start of the second quarter. Though his time on the field was limited, McDowell made his presence felt. He moved down to nose tackle for the first time in his career and registered one sack in his quarter of play. He made several more plays from his offensive tackle position, however, including a key block on a touchdown run where the 6-foot-6, 292-pound lineman pulled and led his back up the middle, pancaking a linebacker in the process.

8. Jacari Faulkner, DE, University of Detroit Jesuit (2014): Faulkner was not active on the offseason camp and combine scene, so his name has not been circulated and few teams know about him. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound prospect is definitely one to watch. He played offensive tackle and defensive end, though he looks to have a brighter future on defense. In high school, Faulkner is a very effective offensive lineman because he plays bigger than his listed size and keeps his feet moving. Defensively, he is extremely quick off the snap, very physical and he recorded multiple sacks on the night. How high Faulkner goes, though, will depend on his physical growth and development over the next year.

9. Ka'John Armstrong, OT, Detroit Loyola (2014): Armstrong was able to play a few more series than his 2014 teammate, McDowell, but he was still on the sideline by the middle of the second quarter. Like McDowell, Armstrong doubles on both the offensive and defensive lines. Where McDowell looks headed for defense, though, Armstrong appears to have the brightest future on offense. The best aspect of the 6-foot-5, 270-pound prospect's game is his quickness. We have seen him run sub-5.0 40-yard dashes and he shows off that foot speed on the field. Loyola uses its tackles on pulls often, and Armstrong can get out and block downfield very effectively.

10. Tyler Wiegers, QB, Detroit Country Day (2014): Wiegers was another offseason standout, and we were very interested to see him in season to see whether that would translate over. This was only Wiegers' second start of his high school career, and he began the game looking very much in control of his offense. Passes to the flats and short middle portions of the field were pinpoint accurate. His struggles came throwing the football downfield where he was intercepted once and had trouble spotting the ball on fade routes. At 6-foot-3 and 208 pounds, Wiegers' athleticism at the position is underrated. He can definitely get out and pick up yards with his legs.

Other prospects of note:

Joshua Alabi, DE, Detroit Cass Tech (2015): The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Alabi is an outstanding physical specimen, but he is still very raw. The sophomore has a bright future, but a long way until he reaches his potential.

Chris Boykin, WR, Toledo (Ohio) Whitmer (2014): This is the first year the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Boykin has seen significant action so he is under-the-radar, but shows outstanding potential. He made a second quarter corner fade in the end zone look easy.

Jayru Campbell, QB, Detroit Cass Tech (2015): We have seen the 6-foot-3, 175-pound Campbell play much better in the past. He had trouble with accuracy and may have suffered from a lack of attention due to the blowout nature of Cass Tech's victory.

Darryl Clemons, LB, Detroit Loyola (2015): Loyola is loaded with young talent, and the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Clemons is one of their most promising in the 2015 class. He has a long, lean frame, but still needs some seasoning at the position.

Chris Davis, DT, Detroit Loyola (2014): The difference between the 6-foot-1, 244-pound Davis and his classmates Armstrong and McDowell is the size, but Davis could carve out a spot for himself at the next level as an interior defensive lineman.

Keymonne Gabriel, RB, Detroit Loyola: Three touchdowns and a final rushing total of close to 200 yards definitely deserved top performers mention, but the 5-11, 218-pound Gabriel had pretty easy sledding against an overmatched team. He is an underrated senior running back, though.

Kenton Gibbs, DT, Detroit Cass Tech: Gibbs is really leaning up and appears much lighter than his listed 290 pounds. Like all Cass Tech players, Gibbs saw only a couple series on Friday, but did record a tackle for loss in that time.

Dominick Hamilton, DT, Detroit Cass Tech: Of all the defensive linemen on Cass Tech's team, Hamilton had the greatest impact in Friday's blowout. The 6-foot-3, 297-pound prospect lived in the Northwestern backfield.

Delano Hill, DB, Detroit Cass Tech: Hill just added a fourth star, but did not get even one chance to flash his skills Friday. The opponent did not throw deep middle all day and the defensive line never let a running back get into the secondary.

Gary Hosey, LB, Detroit Cass Tech (2014): Hosey has really bulked up in the last year. Listed at 6-foot and 230 pounds, he is all of that and probably a little more. And Hosey knows how to use all that bulk when delivering a hit.

Dylan Roney, DE/TE, Detroit Catholic Central (2014): The 6-foot-3, 235-pound Loney doubles as a tight end and defensive end. At this point he looks best at tight end, and made a nice catch in traffic Friday night.

Wyatt Shallman, ATH, Detroit Catholic Central: Shallman scored Catholic Central's first touchdown, but was largely held in check after that. He suffered a very serious cramp in the third quarter that kept him out most of the second half.

Curtis Smith, RB, University of Detroit Jesuit: The 5-foot-8, 165-pound Smith does it all for his high school team, including returning a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown. His size, though, likely keeps him from high major offers.

Poet Thomas, DT, Detroit Country Day: Long term, I feel the 6-foot-6, 295-pound Thomas has a higher ceiling at offensive tackle, but he played exclusively on defense Thursday and was getting a good push and showed a good motor tracking plays down across the field.

Damon Webb, DB/WR, Detroit Cass Tech (2014): Webb had one catchable football thrown his way and he caught it for a 16-yard touchdown. That was all we saw from the 2014 standout in a blowout win, but we have to note that physically Webb is really looking the part of a high Division I prospect.

William White, LB, Detroit Cass Tech (2014): The 6-foot-1, 215-pound White was very active on Friday in his half of play. He avoids traffic, comes downhill hard and knows what to do when he meets the ball carrier.

Richard Wilson, RB, Detroit Country Day (2014): Wilson comes into the season known as a running back prospect, but he looked best at safety on Thursday where the 5-foot-11, 197-pound prospect is solid in coverage and excellent in run support.



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