I made the trek up to Ramsey, New Jersey, last night to catch the big showdown between two of the top teams in the state, Don Bosco Prep and Bergen Catholic.
Surprisingly, going into the fourth quarter, Bergen Catholic held a one-point edge over Bosco, one of the top-ranked teams in the country, but the Ironmen rallied and capitalized on some key fourth-quarter turnover to come away with a 33-22 victory.
I’ve been going to Bosco-Bergen games since the Brian Toal-Brian Cushing battles back in the mid-2000s and the level of athleticism that these two teams possess never ceases to amaze me.
There’s a reason the Ironmen have been New Jersey’s premier high school football team for the last decade. They’re absolutely loaded with talent on a yearly basis.
I went up to last night’s game with the intention of getting a good look at Don Bosco’s five big recruits and here’s a look at what I saw from each of them.
WR Leonte Caroo
Weight: 200 pounds
Committed to Rutgers
Rivals Ranking: 4 Stars, #35 WR
Scout Ranking: 4 Stars, #15 WR
ESPN Ranking: 3 Stars, #100 WR
The player who wowed me the most last night was WR Leonte Caroo.
Caroo has the prototypical size and build you’re looking for and he’s got the explosiveness to match.
When I first got to the game at the beginning of the second quarter, I was able to stake out a spot near the end zone along the Don Bosco sideline, and I had an up-close look at Carroo take a screen pass in for Bosco’s first score of the night.
Caroo is a well-built receiver who runs crisp routes and he has the chance to be a big threat in the underneath passing game once he gets to college.
He also showed off his ability as a kick returner when he took the opening second-half kickoff all the way for a momentum-swinging touchdown, but it was called back due to a penalty.
Rutgers fans should certainly be thrilled that Caroo is staying home.
He has the type of talent to make an early impact for the Scarlet Knights.
Don’t be shocked if he turns out to be the next Mohamed Sanu.
DL Darius Hamilton
Weight: 240 pounds
Uncommitted: Offers from California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Miami, Oregon, Penn State, Syracuse, Tennessee, USC, Virginia Tech
Rivals Rankings: 5 Stars, #2 SSDE
Scout Ranking: 5 Stars, #4 DE
ESPN Ranking: 4 Stars, #6 DE
Darius Hamilton is widely considered to be one of the top defensive line prospects in the country and after I got a close look at him in person, it’s easy to see why.
Although Hamilton lined up inside at defensive tackle for Don Bosco, he’s going to make the move out to defensive end in college.
Although he wasn’t exactly as dominant as I thought he would be, the big senior still showed flashes of his enormous potential.
I saw Hamilton get his arms up and knock down one of Jonathan Germanaro’s passes in the second half but his most impressive play came on a fourth-down run when he burst through the line to make a crucial stop.
Hamilton has the type of frame to grow into a versatile defensive end, who will be able to play the pass and the run equally well. He’s just going to need to learn how to harness his strength and fight off blocks on a regular basis.
Once he learns some more moves, Hamilton has a chance to really be a big-time force in the collegiate ranks.
CB Yuri Wright
Weight: 180 pounds
Uncommitted: Offers from California, Colorado, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Michigan, Notre Dame, Rutgers
Rivals Ranking: 4 Stars, #3 CB
Scout Ranking: 4 Stars, #5 CB
ESPN Ranking: 4 Stars, #3 CB
I have to say, the player I was disappointed in the most last night was CB Yuri Wright.
I had heard a lot about Wright before this game and I was excited to see what he had to offer, but I can't say I came away from the game all that impressed.
Is he a great athlete?
Does he have great size?
Definitely, even if his 6'2" listing might be just a tad bit inflated.
Still, his coverage and recognition skills just didn’t seem to be on par with the other elite defensive backs in the 2012 class.
Wright got burned badly on a deep go route in the second quarter, and then he followed that up by letting up a touchdown pass in the back of the end zone (In his defense, it was a beautifully thrown ball).
He also got caught out of position in the third quarter on a big run down the Bergen Catholic sideline.
I can see why people get caught up with Wright’s potential; however, from what I saw, he’s far from a finished product.
I wouldn’t be shocked if he ended up at safety in college, given his size and his lack of man-to-man skills.
S Elijah Shumate
Weight: 200 pounds
Uncommitted: Offers from Georgia, Georgia Tech, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, South Carolina, Wisconsin
Rivals Ranking: 4 Stars, #7 S
Scout Ranking: 4 Stars, #5 S
ESPN Ranking: 4 Stars, #15 S
I know everyone thinks Shumate is logically going to end up on the defense in college, but I’ve got to admit, it sure is fun to watch him when he’s got the ball in his hands.
Shumate scored three touchdowns last night and he looked like a true offensive playmaker.
He’s one of the best pure athletes on Don Bosco and his size-speed combination is certainly intriguing.
Besides Caroo, Shumate is the player who really caught my eye the most last night.
He’s got the perfect build to be a safety at the next level and he’s got a chance to come in and make an early impact wherever he ends up.
Elijah Shumate is definitely a name to remember as the recruiting process wears on.
LB Mike Strizak
Weight: 225 pounds
Committed to Boston College
Rivals Ranking: 3 Stars, #27 ILB
Scout Ranking: 3 Stars, #29 MLB
ESPN Ranking: 3 Stars, #38 ILB
The least heralded of the "Big Five" is Mike Strizak.
Strizak isn’t the same type of blue-chip athlete as his other highly touted teammates, but you can tell he plays the game with attitude and he’s got the strength to really assert his will against opposing offenses.
Although Strizak primarily lines up at defensive end for the Don Bosco defense, he’s most likely going to end up at linebacker at Boston College.
He may not make many “Wow” plays, but Strizak’s a tough player who looks like he knows how to find the football and make his presence his known.
Who else impressed me?
Two Don Bosco juniors who also caught my eye were No. 8 Alquadin Muhammad, a 6’4’’, 230-pound defensive end, and No. 32 Razohnn Gross, a 5’11’’, 210-pound defensive tackle.
Muhammad is already a physical marvel at this stage of his development, and he’s got the type of long frame and natural speed and athleticism that will have recruiters salivating next year.
Muhammad has the potential to be one of the best edge rushers of the 2013 class.
Gross, on the other hand, looks like he could develop into a big-time player along the Don Bosco defensive front, but because of his size, he’ll have to make the switch to inside linebacker in college.