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April 11, 2012
Adidas Invitational: What we learned
VIDEO: Adidas Invitational videos
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Josh Helmholdt of Rivals.com takes a look back at what we learned at Saturday's Adidas Invitational near Detroit.
1. Bishop Luers looks good for a four-peat
Last November, Fort Wayne (Ind.) Bishop Luers High won its third straight Class 2A state title, and tenth overall, with a dominating 41-17 win over Evansville Mater Dei. Not surprisingly, Rivals100 linebacker Jaylon Smith played an integral role in the win, rushing for 130 yards and two scores from the running back position.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Smith will return to lead the Knights in their quest for a fourth straight state title this fall, and he will be surrounded by an ultra-talented supporting cast, as we found out at the Adidas Invitational.
Bishop Luers wide receiver Mike Rogers has already picked up offers from the likes of Iowa and Bowling Green. He was in attendance on Saturday, but making the most noise were a trio of defensive backs from the Fort Wayne school - Tyvel Jemison, Andrew Spencer and Kendrick Mullen.
Jemison was possibly the top defensive back performer at the entire event, while Spencer and Mullen also performed exceptionally well. That group will have a chance to pull off perfection this fall - a state title in each of their four years of high school.
2. Detroit schools loaded in 2014
We knew going into Adidas Invitational that the class of 2014 in Detroit was going to be a strong group, and several more prospects from the city emerged on Saturday. Maybe the most intriguing was Detroit Loyola offensive sophomore offensive lineman Ka'John Armstrong. The 6-foot-5, 272-pound Armstrong showed good athleticism and ran a couple of strong 40 times.
Armstrong is the teammate of defensive end Malik McDowell, who recently added an offer from Ohio State. With McDowell and Armstrong on their roster, Loyola is going to be a frequently visited location for college coaches this spring.
Of course, Detroit Cass Tech also has a bevy of young talent on their roster. In the 2014 class, wide receiver Damon Webb and linebackers Deon Drake and William White all had solid performances at Saturday's event.
Another Detroit-area sophomore we were able to see for the first time on Saturday was Detroit Country Day quarterback Tyler Wiegers. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Wiegers looks like a college quarterback prospect physically and he has a strong arm and showed solid mechanics. He adds to an already impressive group of young signal callers in the state of Michigan.
3. Midwest underclass quarterback pool is deep
Wiegers was one of several underclass passers who showed Division I potential at the Adidas Invitational. Sturgis, Mich., sophomore Chance Stewart has been on college radars since starting as a freshman, and the 6-foot-6, 210-pound passer is really coming along in his development. His release is short and quick and he was getting good zip on his passes.
From the state of Ohio, Columbus Hamilton Township sophomore quarterback Micky Crum was second only to Stewart in terms of size and physical presence among the underclass quarterback group. Crum appeared all of his listed 6-4 and 220 pounds, and he threw a great ball to complement his size.
The 2015 class also represented well on Saturday. Most impressive about Detroit Cass Tech freshman Jayru Campbell's appearance was how the 6-foot-3, 175-pound prospect was noticeably more filled out than when we last saw him in the fall, leading Cass Tech to the Division I state title. That also translated over into more velocity on his passes, complementing his accuracy.
Another 2015 passer who showed well was Jake Johnson of Dewitt (Mich.), who looked to have several more inches of growth ahead of him, yet was very consistent with his throws on the day. Other 2014 standouts included St. Paul (Minn.) Cretin-Derham Hall's Ricardo Johnson III and Jalen Brady of Grand Ledge, Mich.
4. Michigan commits match billing
Three of Michigan's 17 commitments in the 2013 class took part in Saturday's Adidas Invitational. A fourth, Detroit Crockett tight end Khalid Hill, pulled a muscle in positional drills and sat out the rest of the competition.
Detroit Cass Tech teammates Jourdan Lewis and David Dawson, along with Warren (Mich.) De La Salle quarterback Shane Morris, were each among the top performers at the event and backed up their Rivals250 standing.
For Morris, Saturday's performance was a vindication of sorts after a less-than-stellar effort down in Dallas a few weeks back. Morris was back slinging the football around the field and was really spotting his passes well. He still was not spinning the ball as well as we saw him doing that last off-season, but the end result was still passes that got to their spots on time and on the money.
The 6-foot-5, 305-pound Dawson had several impressive match-ups with Rivals 100 defensive end Joe Mathis during Saturday's competition, and in general kept up the high level of play we have come to expect from him.
Possibly most impressive, though, was Lewis' showing. The 5-foot-10, 170-pound cornerback doubled as a wide receiver on Saturday and was one of the top performers in that group. He appears to provide at least spot ability on the offensive side of the football in college, and should also be able to contribute extensively as a return man on special teams.
5. Spearman is a competitor
The last two Midwest camps I attended - the Best of the Midwest in Indianapolis and Saturday's Adidas Invitational - were also attended by Chicago Simeon three-star linebacker Reggie Spearman… and Spearman will also be at this weekend's VTO Elite 100 Showcase in Cincinnati.
Spearman has already had an interesting recruitment - committing and then decommitting from Indiana - but the 6-foot-2, 215-pound prospect receives high marks for his willingness to compete and test himself. Not only is Spearman getting out to every camp he can find, but even within those camps he is taking it to another level. He ran with the defensive line group in the first session of Saturday's Adidas Invitational, then moved over to the linebacker group when the defensive linemen concluded their session.
While Spearman appears to have a non-stop motor, he is also a non-stop talker, constantly jawing with the opposing players, challenging them. Most college coaches prefer players keep their mouth shut and let their play do their talking, but Spearman backs up his talk with substance. His play on Saturday was among the camp's best, and gives coaches reason to overlook a little on-field banter.