TEAMMATES IMPRESS AT AKRON COMBINE

TEAMMATES IMPRESS AT AKRON COMBINE

With all the hype surrounding superstars such as Dorin Dickerson (Imperial, PA) and Jeff Cumberland (Columbus, OH), as well as numerous top-sophomores such as Marvin Austin (Washington, DC), it was easy to overlook many of the prospective athletes slated to be in attendance at Scout.com's All-American combine in Akron.

With all the hype surrounding superstars such as Dorin Dickerson (Imperial, PA) and Jeff Cumberland (Columbus, OH), as well as numerous top-sophomores such as Marvin Austin (Washington, DC), it was easy to overlook many of the prospective athletes slated to be in attendance at Scout.com's All-American combine in Akron (May 28). However, once it became time to shed their street clothes and don their body armor, a pair of high school teammates from Northeastern Ohio made those watching take notice.

Each being standout offensive performers in their own right at Shaker Heights High School (8-3 in 2004) (Shaker Heights, OH), Dominic Alford and Dart Mitchell are two names that college football fans should definitely get to know, especially to UC football fans. Though having both garnered some attention from the college coaching staffs, including Cincinnati's, neither feels they have really earned that much attention in the recruiting scene. While maybe flying under the radar of major college programs as we speak, by the end of their senior seasons I am sure that each athlete will be a force to be reckoned with during the recruiting process.

Simply put, Alford is a man-child. Standing just under 6-3, the three hundred-plus pound line prospect embodies the skill and attributes college line coaches dream about. Though displaying only middle-of-the-pack numbers when compared to his fellow linemen in the five athletic drills at Akron, Alford, who has received lukewarm interest from the likes of Ohio State, was one of only four 300-pounders at the combine.

Even with his less-than-stellar, but entirely respectable, numbers wearing sneakers and jumping through hoops for men with stopwatches, it was when Alford hit the one-on-one drills that allowed him to really shine. On the gridiron playing football is where this gentle giant really managed to shine. In fact, he shined so bright he was like a light tower, leading all viewers in his direction. Along with myself, Scout.com's Bob Lichtenfels (http://recruiting.scout.com/2/383287.html) was one of the many pairs of eyes to take notice of Alford.

With the physical size and ability to earn a spot on a college roster, it is the Alford's intangibles that make him a definite potential candidate anchor a line at a big-time program. With quick feet, solid size, and a passion to play football, Alford showed the range to play either guard or center at the next level. While mild-mannered as can be perched on the sidelines, when Alford gets in the trenches his personality changes. He is mean and tenacious. He will do anything to stop an opponent dead in their tracks. Combining nicely a love for the game with his win-at-all-costs mentality, Alford uses solid footwork and strong hand-play, along with brute strength (350-pound bench press) to leave most opponents to be nothing more than pancake blocks waiting to happen.

With the strong play on the O-line Alford provides, it is no surprise that Dart Mitchell has made himself into a topnotch college prospect. A wide receiver, Mitchell has no problems getting open. Displaying 4.5-speed in the 40 (tied for third amongst wide receivers/tight ends) and solid route-running ability in one-on-one drills, Mitchell could be a valid deep-threat option for a big-armed college QB. In my relatively limited viewing of the fleet-footed recruit, Mitchell did exhibit a quick first step, solid elusiveness and route-running and relatively soft hands.

With this being said, one must ask why his stock has not soared as high as his 36-inch vertical leap. Simply put, Dart may just be a tad too small. Possibly proving women and college coaches alike have lied to men over the years, claiming size doesn't matter, for both parties it is apparent that it does. Standing 5-8.5, Mitchell's short stature undermines his big-time playmaking skills. However, even though his height seems to be one of the major drawbacks in recruitment, Mitchell did display outstanding leaping abilities in the drills and on the field. For Mitchell's sake, hopefully these numbers will bring some peace of mind to coaches, as they can see he has the abilities necessary to overcome his size with by out jump with taller corners. While still needing to fillout his frame by getting much stronger physically over the summer and over the course of his senior campaign, the natural gifts that Mitchell displays should make many schools target this Dart over the course of the next few months.

Though much is still uncertain as to the collegiate future of these teammates, I would not be surprised to see either of them appear on the campus at Clifton during June's summer camp. With future talks scheduled for both men, be on the lookout for the hottest news in regard to these Northeast Ohio prospects.

Akron Combine Results:

Dominick Alford, OL:

Location: Akron Height: 6-2.5 Weight: 305

40-Yard Dash: 5.51 - Short Shuttle: 5.25  - Vertical Jump: 21.0" 

3-Cone: 9.18  - Broad Jump: 7-7

Dart Mitchell, WR:

Location: Akron Height: 5-8.5 Weight: 171

40-Yard Dash: 4.54  - Short Shuttle: 4.16  - Vertical Jump: 36.0"

3-Cone: 7.22  - Broad Jump: 8-7

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