FORTRESS OBETZ, Ohio -- At this past weekend's Under Armour All-America Columbus-area camp at Fortress Obetz, more than 200 of the top prospects from across the Midwest worked out and battled for invites to the coveted UA All-American game. In what was a packed field, 2022 Omaha (Neb.) Central offensive lineman Deshawn Woods picked up an invite to the All-American game after putting together an impressive performance.
Field Stocked With OSU Commits
Coming into the camp, a contingent of Ohio State commits were already tapped to participate in the post-season All-American game-- linebacker Gabe Powers, linebacker C.J. Hicks, linebacker Dasan McCullough and cornerback Jyaire Brown. Apart from that group, Penn State wide receiver commit Kaden Saunders is also committed to the Under Armour game, and the group of future Big Ten players hung out all throughout the camp, cracking jokes and passing the time.
On the field, Powers and Brown participated in a limited capacity on Sunday and McCullough was unable to go at all due to a turf toe injury, but Hicks represented the Buckeyes well. The elite linebacker was quick and instinctive during run drills while also looking comfortable dropping back into pass coverage. Hicks is a speedy straight-line runner that can flip his hips pretty well, and it looks like he can easily support additional weight on his frame before reaching college.
As for Brown, it is clear that the blue chip defensive back prefers to play press-man, but the OSU commit showed off his cover skills by mostly using his feet to shadow opposing receivers. Brown was purposeful in his footwork by staying lodged between the quarterback and receiver, and he was a tough assignment throughout each rep.
Though Dasan McCullough did not work out at the camp, his younger brother, Bloomington (Ind.) South safety Daeh McCullough, did and certainly passed the eye test. Like his brother, Daeh McCullough is coveted long at 6'2" and his length presents a challenge that can be tough to crack downfield. McCullough has active hands and can tactfully create small windows for opposing quarterbacks to hit.
Daeh McCullough had a strong camp session and kept his momentum rolling by committing to Indiana on Tuesday. With McCullough in the fold, the Hoosiers now have two commits in the 2023 cycle, the other being Suwanee (Ga.) Collins Hill wide receiver Denzel Moore.
With such a deep field of players at the camp, there was not a weak position group on the field, but one that particularly stood out was the defensive line. The job that the defensive line prospects did against quality blocking competition was a highlight of the day, especially during the one-on-one portion.
Entering the camp, it was noted that the OL would be stout with Carson Hinzman, Tegra Tshabola and Deshawn Woods leading the way for 2022 recruits. That trio was flanked by 2023 big-time recruits Kadyn Proctor and Josh Padilla, so there was a lot of talent up front across the board.
Working against that lineup, members of the defensive line showed a combination of speed, strength and timing and proceeded to put on a show. One of the best on the day was uncommitted Westfield (Ind.) defensive end Popeye Williams. With offers from most of the Big Ten, Williams showed that he can compete with anybody by settling loose an array of pass rush moves. Williams showed good bend and slipped passed blockers on the edge, but he also had refined rip, swim and spin moves to deploy when going head on with an offensive lineman. Physically, Williams already looks the part of a Power 5 college pass rusher, and he performed like one over the weekend.
Much of the same could be said for 2022 Brockton (Mass.) Thayer Academy defensive end Samuel Okunola. With over 40 offers to his name, Okunola brings speed and intensity off the edge. Okunola won more than his fair share of reps during one-on-ones and pushed Williams for the top DE spot on the day. At the end, Williams claimed the DL Big Man Challenge win, but it was a tightly contested honor between the two.
Working as more of a defensive tackle, 2022 Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech lineman Deone Walker had a slew of flashy reps during one-on-ones as well. One of his go-to moves at the camp was a mixture of speed and agility that led to three clean, consecutive rep wins, but the rising-senior looked light on his feet in drills before that point. After the camp, Walker said he's hearing the most from Kentucky, Michigan, Oregon, Arkansas, Michigan State, Pittsburgh and LSU. Though Walker said he isn't sure about his official visit schedule yet, it would be reasonable to infer some amalgamation of that list.
From the 2023 class, Mentor (Ohio) defensive end Brenan Vernon displayed why he is nationally coveted and has a lot of potential moving forward. Though he was not the most dominant DL from bell to whistle, Vernon showed good footwork and athleticism even if he has some stiffness in his movement. Vernon is a competitive worker during drills with a big frame that could very well bulk up to strong-side defensive end by the time he reaches college. He is far from a finished product at this point, but he will be a lot for an offensive line to handle when that time comes.
2022 Nebraska Duo Stand Out
Coming all the way from Omaha (Neb.), two of the most impressive prospects at the camp were linebacker Devon Jackson and offensive lineman Deshawn Woods. Jackson, who checks in at 6'2" and 200 pounds, was one of the fastest linebackers on the field, showing that he could run with any running back he was assigned to. Whether tasked with a route in the flats or into the deep third of the field, Jackson was tough to shake in coverage and caused several deflections.
On the recruiting front, Jackson said he's planning on taking official visits to Arizona State, Oklahoma and Notre Dame once June rolls around. Jackson noted that the Oklahoma coaching staff is pitching a future at middle linebacker since the Sooners' edge players usually end up in the 6'4", 250-pound ballpark. With the Fighting Irish, however, Jackson is hearing about his chances to play on the edge and to rush the passer on a more consistent basis, so that could factor into his decision making process. Wherever Jackson ends up committing to, he wants the opportunity to play early, so the path of least resistance to the field may be the one that he chooses.
As for Woods, the Under Armour All-America Game invitee mentioned that Tennessee, Arizona State and Missouri are the three schools that he hears from the most, so each of those locations could be an official visit candidate for the wanted blocker.
OL Recruiting Notes
As was stated earlier, the batch of offensive linemen at the camp was particularly deep. 2023 Dayton (Ohio) Wayne lineman Josh Padilla ended up winning the OL Big Man Challenge award, and he did so snapping the ball at center for much of the day. Padilla showed a good punch and was quick off the line, and that combination carried him to a quality performance against some tenacious pass rushers.
From a recruiting standpoint, Padilla has a host of suitors but took time to single out Ohio State and Notre Dame as two programs he's been in the most contact with. As an in-state recruit, Padilla was thrilled to land his offer from the Buckeyes last month and calls it the highlight of his young high school career thus far. Padilla has seen numerous players from his school go on to star for OSU, so the connection between he and the Buckeyes is deep.
Regarding the Fighting Irish, Padilla mentioned offensive line coach Jeff Quinn and defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman as his two main points of contact on the ND staff. Quinn has been telling him about the program's track record of producing NFL-quality linemen, and that fact has resonated with the highly coveted interior blocker.
Another sophomore that stood out-- literally and figuratively-- at the camp was Des Moines (Iowa) Southeast Polk's Kadyn Proctor. At 6'6" and 317 pounds, Proctor was one of the more physically complete OL out of the field, and he still has two more years to grow.
Proctor is one of the more coveted players in the '23 cycle, so there is a lot of activity in his recruitment. For starters, Proctor floated the idea of visiting Ohio State after Sunday's camp but did not firmly outline his plans. He did say that he's been talking to the coaching staffs at Notre Dame and Michigan a lot, and he intends to visit Arizona State after the dead period is over.
Stick with SI All-American as the camp season begins to heat up over the next several months.
More from SI All-American