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Friday, March 15, 2013
Five stories to watch: New Level 7-on-7

By Jared Shanker & Brad Bournival

The latest stop on the New Level Nation 7-on-7 tour is Youngstown on Saturday, as some of the top teams and prospects from the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic head to northeast Ohio. The organization’s 7-on-7 tournaments are steadily growing every year and are now one of the premier competitions in the country, but the 7-on-7 at Youngstown State will unfortunately be missing some of the Midwest’s best -- through no fault of its own.

Ohio makes 7-on-7 tournaments a no-go
While the event is being held in Youngstown, Ohio, there will not be a single Ohio prospect participating in the 7-on-7 on Saturday. The OHSAA, the governing athletic body in the state, does not allow high school players to compete in 7-on-7 competitions until June 1. That means Watch List prospects such as OLB Dante Booker (Akron, Ohio/St. Vincent-St. Mary), QB DeShone Kizer (Toledo, Ohio/Toledo Central Catholic) and ATH Marshon Lattimore (Cleveland/Glenville) will not be attending. It is not a rule OHSAA is looking to change either, as OHSAA Director of Information Services Tim Stried told ESPN a few months ago there is no movement to alter the rule.

Michigan’s best heading to Ohio
It usually is the other way around with Michigan landing some of the top players from the state, but, for this event, the state’s top prospects will be flocking to the Buckeye State. Detroit MaxEx is one of the better 7-on-7 programs in the Midwest, and it will bring down several elite recruits to Youngstown. MaxEx’s top team is headlined by Damon Webb (Detroit/Cass Tech) but also boasts Parris Bennett (Detroit/University of Detroit Jesuit), Tim Cason (Clarkston, Mich./Clarkston), Dillon Dixon (Detroit/University of Detroit Jesuit), Jalen Embry (Detroit/Martin Luther King) and Jared Wangler (Warren, Mich./De La Salle), all of whom have FBS offers. The 2015 MaxEx team has Jay'ru Campbell (Detroit/Cass Tech), Brian Cole and Mike Weber (Detroit/Cass Tech), and all three have high-level BCS offers as sophomores.

Bring in the Cavaliers cavalry
Chris Godwin (Middletown, Del./Middletown) has seen his recruitment explode lately. The ESPN Watch List wide receiver can further cement his legacy with a strong showing at the Midwest Regional. He’ll have his high school quarterback Darius Wade, who has three FBS offers, with him for Team Delaware. Last season, Wade was 116-of-177 for 2,275 yards and 27 scores. Godwin caught 42 of those passes for 834 yards and 12 scores.

Webb of excitement
Ohio State fans might want to head over to the Midwest Regional for a glimpse into the future as Webb is scheduled to be a part of the Max Ex Elite team out of Michigan. The ESPN Watch List junior cornerback committed to Ohio State on Jan. 13 after watching the Ohio State men’s basketball team beat Michigan. He posted 42 tackles and seven interceptions to go along with 10 pass breakups last season to help lead the Technicians to their second straight state title.

Welcome to the show
The recruiting game seems to be getting younger every year with offers already going to junior high and middle school athletes. The Rising Stars Green team out of Michigan has an interesting squad headed to Youngstown, Ohio, with current eighth graders Kevin Bickett (Ortonville, Mich./Brandon), Donovan Johnson (Southfield, Mich./Southfield), Bryce Brand (Farmington, Hills./Harrison) and Dwayne Chapman (Orchard Lake, Mich./St. Mary’s) making up 25 percent of the team. Add 2016 quarterback Kyle Thomas (Walled Lake/Mich.) and wide receiver Miles Daniels (Oak Park, Mich./Oak Park), and this team certainly will learn on the run.