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July 3, 2006

Ohio stacked at safety

Ohio is known as the cradle of great football coaches, and it's also produced quite a reputation of producing big-time talent on the field over the years.

While the class of 2007 might not rank as one of the all-time best in Ohio, there sure is enough potential in the group to keep the Big Ten programs stockpiled with talent over the next four years.

That's why the battle to land a spot on the Rivals.com Ohio top 50 was very tough, especially when you get outside of the top 10 players in the state.

At the top of the list four players seemingly separated themselves from the others - safety Eugene Clifford at No. 1, defensive end Ben Martin at No. 2, running back Brandon Saine at No. 3 and defensive tackle Antonio Jeremiah at No. 4.

The battle for the top spot was extremely tough and Martin might get the nod after an impressive senior season because freak defensive ends are hard to find, but at this point Clifford is the most complete player in the bunch.

Saine will be exciting to watch at Ohio State. With the Bucks landing the nation's top running back in last year's class, it'll be interesting to see how OSU uses Saine in its offense. What makes Rivals.com think he'll be a success is that he's a talented pass catcher out of the backfield and his sprinter's speed could make him explosive able to be used a lot like Ted Ginn is now currently for the Bucks.

Jeremiah simply put is one of the nation's top interior linemen. While he might be still searching for an offer from Ohio State, there have been numerous other national programs that have stepped up an offered him. Jeremiah's game tape is amazing and what's most impressive is that he makes big plays on almost every down and not just when the highlight reels are running.

There are two players just outside the four-star level that might move up after strong showings this summer - Huber Heights cornerback Donnie Evege and Warren Harding running back Daniel Herron.

Evege was tough to judge on early tape, but a further showed that he's one of the top lockdown cover corners in the Midwest and he should be a star at Ohio State. Herron impressed coaches at both Ohio State and Michigan enough to earn scholarship offers this summer. He's a tough runner that can do damage both on the inside and on the outside with his speed.

Another fast riser is Toledo Central Catholic receiver Dane Sanzenbacher. The 5-11, 174-pounder recently received an offer from Ohio State after a great performance at the Bucks' summer camp.

He insists the offer is to play receiver, but when you watch his tape, it's easy to project him at a number of different positions - including safety. Either way, Sanzenbacher is the steady, solid and excellent all-around player you'd like on your team because he's consistently making plays.

There are two running backs on the list that were very difficult to rank because of a lack of offers.

There's no question that both Morgan Williams of Canton McKinley and Hosea Simpson of Cincinnati Winton Woods are Big 10 level type rushers. You'd be hard-pressed to find a running back that faced a tougher schedule that Williams did as a junior, but he still almost single-handedly beat teams by rushing for 2,418 yards and 31 touchdowns. And not to be outdone, Simpson has rushed for more than 3,000 yards and 32 touchdowns the past two seasons.

College coaches have said there are some academic questions with both players, but if things work themselves out next fall, both could easily have more scholarship offers than any other back in the state because both are that talented.

From a depth standpoint safety looks to be the most loaded position of the year with guys like Clifford, Nate Oliver of Lakewood St. Edward, Carlton Peake of Trotwood Madison, Diauntae Morro of St. Edward, David Arnold of Copley, Sidney Glover of Warren Harding, Brian Gamble of Massillon Washington and Rocco Pentello of Westerville South all making the list.

While safety might be the strongest, it's abundantly clear that offensive linemen are hard to find this season in-state. Only two of the top 50 players in Ohio are offensive linemen (Mark Wetterer and Nick Schepis).

The Rivals.com Ohio top 50


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