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February 19, 2012
Last year's Best of the Midwest football combine in Indianapolis was a jumping off point for several recruitments that ended earlier this month with signatures on BCS letters of intent.
One of those whose recruitment got a boost from last year's Best of the Midwest combine was eventual Rivals250 athlete and recent Ohio State signee David Perkins, who clocked two 4.4-second 40-yard dashes at the event. Others included eventual Michigan State signee Josiah Price and future Notre Dame safety John Turner, who came into last year's event almost completely off the radar.
This year's combine takes place on President's Day - Monday, Feb. 20 - in Indianapolis and has attracted a number of prospects whose recruitments are already off to strong starts, as well as others who could use a Perkins or Turner or Price-like performance to kick off a string of offers.
"The main goal is for the guys to come and compete against some of their peers and some of the best in the Midwest, find out how they stack up against kids their age," said camp director Greg Brookey, whose company All Pro Sports runs the event. "Last year we had several kids no one knew about. We just had a lot of kids for whom it was great exposure for them."
Elmer, a Notre Dame commit from Midland, Mich., and Tuley-Tillman, who is from Peoria (Ill.) Manual and holds more than two dozen scholarship offers, lead off a very impressive group of offensive linemen. They will be joined by Indianapolis (Ind.) Warren Central tackle Dwayne Brown, Indianapolis (Ind.) Lawrence Central guard Timothy Gardner and Portage (Mich.) Central guard Nate Jeppesen, each of whom holds at least one Division I offer thus far.
Offensive line is not the only talent-laden position group expected at the event. Kimbrough and Smith are both ranked among the top 120 prospects in the country, giving the linebacker group plenty of star power.
The wide receiver position, however, could be the deepest and most interesting to watch at Monday's event. The state of Indiana has several receiver prospects hearing from a wide range of Division I programs and on the verge of scholarship offers.
Brownsburg, Ind., 6-2, 200-pound receiver Chase Dutra is in that group. He is coming off a very impressive junior campaign in which he played and excelled despite wearing a cast on his arm for the first half of the season. Dutra shows outstanding athleticism on film, but teams still seem to be looking for confirmation of his abilities. Monday's combine could be the showcase Dutra needs.
Other Indiana-based wide receivers in similar situations as Dutra expected to work out Monday include Fort Wayne Homestead's Isaac Griffith, South Bend Clay's Wesley Thomas and Indianapolis Heritage Christian's Anthony Warrum. Griffith and Thomas each recently picked up their first offers of the process from MAC programs.
Among those throwing to the wide receiver group will be a pair of quarterbacks who already hold Division I offers. Lexington (Ky.) Catholic's Kyle Bolin has already committed to the in-state Louisville Cardinals, while Middletown (Ohio) Bishop Fenwick's Ricky Davis grabbed offers from Akron and Bowling Green before his junior season.
Monday's combine will also be an early opportunity for several class of 2014 and 2015 prospects to showcase their stuff, among them Columbus (Ohio) Bishop Hartley sophomore cornerback Alonzo Saxton and Indianapolis (Ind.) Warren Central sophomore running back Adrian Smith.
In total, 42 of the 202 participants in last year's Best of the Midwest Combine received Division 1 offers. This year's group appears to be even deeper, with players from as far as Pittsburgh and Wisconsin inquiring with Brookey about the event.
"It just seems to keep getting bigger," Brookey said. "The last three years it has really escalated and we've had interest from kids throughout the Midwest. If you're a top athlete you want to compete against the best, prove yourself and see how you stack up."
The Midwest is benefitting from a strong crop of talent in the class of 2013, with better than 40 prospects having already received four-star ratings. Monday's Best of the Midwest Combine will be a showcase for several who have already reached that status and a proving ground for others who aspire to that level.