Porter has eye on local talent

BEAVER TOWNSHIP — Having driven nearly 12,000 miles since high school football scrimmages began statewide this past August, Mark Porter of ScoutingOhio.com readily admitted to having the Week 10 blues last weekend.

With the first round of the high school playoffs set to begin this weekend, he said his batteries will be recharged and he’ll be set to go Friday night when he makes his final evaluations on players who he will include in his highly regarded grid service.

Porter spoke to the Curbstone Coaches on Monday at Avion Banquet Center, telling the membership that several area players already have Division I college offers.

He added that the chance of any of the 13 area playoff teams making it to the state’s “Final Four” is going to be very tough.

“I’ve been doing this now for 15 years and when I got into my car on Friday to head to Toledo for my weekly game schedule, I checked my mileage tracker and it told me that with over 175,000 miles traveled to date, I’ve gone a quarter of the way to the moon,” Porter smiled. “My wife, Stephanie, also helps out and between the two of us that’s a lot of miles logged.

“We have 13 area teams in the playoffs, two games will feature area teams playing each other and while we’ll win a few games and several teams will advance, we probably won’t make much noise,” Porter said. “Unlike previous years, I don’t think we’ll have much of an impact.”

Porter and his wife travel the state’s 44,825 square miles eyeing talent to include in their service, which now boasts nearly 90 subscribers. While Porter combs the entire state, Stephanie usually stays within an hour of home and visits teams playing in Akron, Canton, Cleveland and the Mahoning Valley.

“Every college within a six to eight-hour radius, and there are close to 85, subscribe to our service,” Porter added. “We supply reports to schools in the Big Ten, Mid-American Conference and Big East, as well as Divisions II, III and NAIA. We’re like their grad assistant.”

Porter sees a minimum of four games each weekend and to date has seen 63 games while viewing 126 teams up-close. He used this past weekend to comb the Toledo area while taking in games involving Toledo Central Catholic, Whitmer, St. Francis de Sales, Roy C. Start, Woodward and Findlay high schools to close out his regular season.

Local players that have already received Division I offers include Ursuline’s James Phillips, a linebacker-tight end who has been offered by Western Michigan, Girard wide receiver Nick Malito, who has committed to Toledo but has other teams looking at landing his services and offensive lineman Haeden Gump, also of Girard, who has been offered by Youngstown State.

Porter also added Ursuline quarterbacks Matthew Reardon and Brady Shannon, though a junior and sophomore respectively, are players to keep an eye on as are Clive Wilson (tight end) and Delshawn Petrosky (free safety) of Chaney, Nick Crawford (strong safety) and Rich Hofus (offensive line) of Canfield, Karter Kellgren (offensive line) of Poland, Isaiah Hackett (cornerback) of East and Alex Goodrick (offensive line) of the Hubbard Eagles.

He added that something which hasn’t yet affected high schools, has the NCAA and colleges addressing while down the road might play a part in his service, is the proposed pay-for-play rule.

“It doesn’t affect high school players yet, but the top prospects will be paying close attention to what unfolds and undoubtedly will want their due,” he stated. “Speculation is that colleges will have some system in place as they recruit them. The question is will it be structured for everyone?

“They’ll follow the money and the big schools will have it while the little schools will not. There’s already a big gap between the have’s like Ohio State, and the have nots like schools in the Mid-American Conference or even FCS. The gap will be even bigger if it comes to fruition.”

Porter does think that players deserve some remuneration.

“I’m old school in that this can go sideways in a hurry if not structured,” he noted. “I remember as a youngster, an extra $50 in my pocket was a lot of money. “What would $10,000 or even $15,000 do for someone? When your image is used then you should be compensated. If you are going to get paid, then find a way to tie it to a player’s academic performance.

“There’s just so much that still needs to be worked out because a few bad apples can ruin it for everyone.”

Next Monday, YSU sports information director Trevor Parks is the guest speaker.