Posted by Bryan Fischer
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Some of the best from all over the Midwest and East Coast came to play on the campus of Ohio State for this past Saturday's Nike Camp. Here's a few of the top performers on the defensive side of the ball from the camp:
One of the highest regarded players at the camp, Washington mostly lived up to the hype. He's a bit smaller than listed but is compact and shows great explosiveness. His feet were very good for the most part and he does a good job of staying low and getting underneath offensive linemen. Washington's rip move is very nice and he knows what moves he's going to do before the snap and executes them just about every time on his way to the quarterback.
Pipkins' performance was one of the surprises of the camp and showed off a powerful ability to penetrate and rush the passer during his one-on-ones. He's very strong and already a two gap player inside at defensive tackle. He's about the right size for the next level entering his senior year but needs to make sure he doesn't add any more weight. He gets off the line well and didn't lose a rep on his way to position group MVP.
Perkins was a defensive end at the event but it's clear from just looking at him that he's an outside linebacker. He showed off his athleticism by blowing past offensive linemen and probably was the fastest of the group coming off the edge. He's got some moves but you really couldn't tell how well he moves in space if he were a linebacker. Both him and Pipkins were aggressive in getting reps and winning them which is something coaches will like about them too.
Ross was one of the headliners and the Michigan commitment did not disappoint at all. Physically, he looks ready for the next level and while he's only 6-foot-1, looks much bigger once he eventually puts on the pads. His feet were constantly moving and he changed directions quickly and smoothly. He was one of, if not the, best players in pass rush drills and a stand out during 7-on-7 as well.
Smith must have felt comfortable roaming around the Ohio State practice fields since his brother does it on a daily basis as a Buckeye running back. Just a sophomore, he looks very good in coverage and really can turn his hips to run with the receiver. He nabbed the MVP award over others like Ross and is very much a complete player. There's still a few things he needs learn but overall he was one of the best players on defense at the camp.
Howard stood out as one of the biggest players at the linebacker position - he almost could have swapped places with Perkins and played on the defensive line. Also an underclassman, he was able to dominate any of the smaller running backs in the pass rush drills but could also cover tight ends and others during pass rush drills. He's got middle linebacker written all over him and will probably will have plenty of offers from teams running a Tampa-2 system that requires him to drop to the middle of the field.
The position group MVP, Smith was one of the taller defensive backs to come to a Nike Camp. He's a tad taller than 6-foot-2 but is athletic and moves like a safety who is much smaller. Strong and fluid, he had a nice backpedal and could turn his hips quickly. Expect Smith's stock to take off once schools take another look at him.
Another highly regarded prospect who was in attendance, Bogard has good size for a safety and probably could play a little nickel corner with some coaching. He's still a bit raw but reacts well to the receiver and the ball when it's in the air. Bogard roamed the secondary effectively and should continue to grow at the position.
One thing you notice about Foster was how quickly he could turn and change directions. He's another big body roaming the secondary and you could see him continuing to grow and eventually end up as an outside linebacker. The Cincinnati commit really would go after the ball when it was in the air and seemed to snatch it out of the air when he got his hands on it.