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August 27, 2001FT. THOMAS, KY --- The St. Luke Hospital 5th Annual Champions Bowl was held this past Saturday, August 25th, at Ft. Thomas Highlands High School and featured a few of Kentucky's top prep football prospects. The Bowl featured two contests of Champions, Breathitt County (Class 2A) vs. perennial power Beechwood (Class A), and two of Kentucky's top programs in Louisville Male (Class 4A) vs. the rebuilding Ft. Thomas Highlands Bluebirds (Class 3A). Some observations and photo/video on a few of these top prospects is provided below.
The Kentucky Wildcats have targeted Smith as a key instate OL recruit, a position where the 'Cats return only 9 scholarship offensive lineman in 2002. Smith could vye for early playing time at Kentucky if he chooses the Wildcats. An outstanding student (4.0 gpa), Smith will have no problem qualifying to play as a freshmen.
Smith (#52) blocking on Michael Bush (#19-LB) (474KB video)
Brady, a powerfully built, 6-3, 295+, 4.9, OG, certainly has the physical size and strength (415 lb bench, 25 reps x 185) to play high D1, but will need to shed a few pounds and get in better playing shape. Once he does that however, Brady could be a force on the interior of the offensive line. He has the footwork and hands to pass block and the build to be a powerful drive blocker. Joe is an excellent student (3.5 gpa) and has already scored an 18 on his ACT.
Brady (#68) drive-blocking #52 in white (473KB video)
In addition to these two outstanding offensive lineman, each has a less-heralded teammate that D1 programs need to keep an eye on. Both have the potential to develop into outstanding offensive lineman, and both possess excellent speed and mobility.
He played LT, while Smith played RT in the Bluebird offense and was frequently called upon to provide backside blocking against the speedy pass-rush of the Male HS Bulldogs. Jeff is certainly a player to keep an eye on for the 2002 recruitng period. He has received interest from a number of D1 programs including Kentucky, and is also an excellent student (3.1 gpa).
Berger has a good base to work with, and has good mobility for a man of his size. Alex will need to gain some additional strength (345 lb bench, 19 reps x 185) before he is ready to compete at the D1 level, but should accomplish that with added maturity. Primarily played LT on offense, and some along the DL, but is best suited for OT in college. Another one to keep an eye on in the Bluegrass state as he develops. Alex has received interest from a number of D1 program including Kentucky, and is an outstanding student (3.8 gpa).
Berger (#75) blocking to the outside and Brady (#68) moving the pile to the inside open up wide running lane for Philip Ridgell (#2)(475KB video)
With excellent straight ahead speed, Ridgell scored on two long TD runs after sitting out the first half after injuring his ankle on the first play of the game.
Likely best suited for FS or OLB, Ridgell has good size, but is still very raw in terms of football savvy. Philip will need to develop a more physical and aggressive approach to the game, but the Beechwood staff is expecting big things out of Ridgell this year. It's still early, but Philip has the athletic ability to develop into one of the Bluegrass state's top players in 2003 if he continues to progress.
A man among boys at the high school ranks, whenever Bush touched the ball, the threat of a TD was possible and it always took several Highlands defenders to bring Michael to the ground.
Be it offense or defense, Bush will make an impact when it is time to put on the pads at some lucky college in 2003. The only question is whether Bush plays hoops or football, or both. Michael is currently wanting to play both sports in college and is heavily weighing this factor into his college decison making process. An outstanding young man, Bush is a special prospect that doesn't come along very often.
Not to slight anyone, it should be noted that there were a number of other outstanding players participating in these two games. Some selected other outstanding players at the 5th Annual Champions Bowl include:
Chris Barclay, a 5-9, 175, 4.5, Senior, RB/Athlete out of Louisville Male HS. Chris has excellent quickness and good strength for his size. Projects as a D1 prospect for 2002.
Brandon Blackerby, a 6-3, 175, 4.7, Senior, QB out of Louisville Male HS. Brandon has improved his skills and overall physical abilities since last year, and is one of the top 2 or 3 instate QB prospect this year.
Todd Flannery, a 6-2, 150, Junior, PK out of Louisville Male HS. Gets the ball up as quick and as high as any kicker that we've seen. Kicked a couple of extra points over the top of the screen back into the trees, and on kickoffs consistently had a hangtime of approximately 4.5 seconds and a depth of around the 5 yard line. Will make someone a excellent placekicker in 2003.