POSITION: Defensive End
HOMETOWN: Warren, OH
HIGH SCHOOL: Howland
247 COMPOSITE RATING: ★★★ (.8600)
NATIONAL RANK: 628
POSITION RANK: 29
STATE RANK: 24
OTHER OFFERS: Akron, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Cornell, Duke, Iowa, Kent State, Kentucky, Maryland, Miami (OH), Ohio, Old Dominion, Purdue, Syracuse, Temple, Toledo, Wisconsin
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Tommy Carnifax committed to Northwestern in June 2015 and is the third-highest rated member of this recruiting class by 247Sports. He's the only member of this year's recruiting class to enroll early; he arrived on campus earlier this month. The NCAA allows high school seniors who have graduated early to sign a Tenure of Financial Aid and enroll in college during the winter or spring of what would be their senior year. Carnifax started his studies at the beginning of Northwestern's winter quarter.
Carnifax was named a preseason All-Ohio first team selection prior to the 2015 season, and the quality and quantity of his offers is impressive. He also earned AP All-Northeast Ohio first team honors his senior year for Division III. His high school, Howland, went 6-4 and was rated 252nd in the state of Ohio per MaxPreps, so it's not as if Carnifax played at an elite high school football program, but he himself was impressive.
What jumps off the stat sheet for Carnifax is his height. At 6-5, he'll be a consistent threat to bat down passes at the line and he should be able to put on some weight; 245 pounds for a guy of that height suggests major room for growth. His film shows that he played a bit of tight end in high school, and while that won't continue at Northwestern, it shows that he's mobile and at least a decent athlete.
On the defensive end, Carnifax shows good burst and agility. He has good tackling technique and frequently goes low and drives through the ball carrier. He's noticeably larger than his competition, but he doesn't seem too inclined to bull-rush through the lineman blocking him.
Carnifax has a chance to be a really, really good Northwestern player. The immediate comparison that comes to mind is Dean Lowry, mostly based on their similar builds. Unfortunately for his immediate prospects though, he had shoulder surgery and will miss all of spring practice. Many players enroll early with an eye towards playing as true freshmen, but the injury means he's more likely to redshirt this season.
Assuming he does redshirt in 2016, he'll step into a rotation in 2017 that should include Xavier Washington, Joe Gaziano and Trent Goens. Carnifax was a highly sought-after recruit who chose Northwestern over more established Big Ten programs Wisconsin and Iowa, so it's clear this kid can play. He'll need to put on some weight — ideally he'll be able to get to around 265, the weight at which Lowry played — and add explosiveness, but keep an eye on Carnifax. He could turn out to be the best player in this class.