The final two weeks leading up to National Signing Day can be stressful for both fans and coaches. Maintaining verbal commits reigns paramount as a select few “Big Dogs” remain on proverbial big boards while being courted for final-hour signatures.
National Signing Day has grown into a multimillion dollar business. Talking heads and hacks alike (me included) will be seen/heard/read on a myriad of media platforms pounding their chests about how their research and analyzation are the most accurate. Truth is, football recruiting is mere abstract prognostication. Football players are unique in the case that the potential for weight, strength, and technical advancements have to be considered as much as current height, arm length, 40-times, and vertical jumps.
Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow are constructing one heck of a ’17 class. Let’s take a closer look:
Commits: Sebastien Dolcine, Austin Dotson, Naasir Watkins. Dolcine is a strong candidate for this class’s “Josh Allen Award.”
Tale of the tape: Average size-6’5 ½ 305
Strengths: Optimal size, positional diversity, athleticism, and preferred arm length. Competitive by nature; intelligently aggressive.
Summary: Consists of one line-of-scrimmage mauler (Dotson) and two “Belly Shirt Hogs” in Dolcine and Watkins.
*Belly Shirt Hogs-Complimentary term describing athletic offensive linemen that can get away with tucking their jersey underneath shoulder pads.
**Josh Allen Award is annually given to a prospect with the highest upside after being overlooked, undervalued, and underrated by recruiting services.
Enrolled: Danny Clark, Walker Wood
Tale of the tape: Average-6’1 210
Strengths: Proven winners. Both led their teams to consecutive state championships appearances. Wood and Clark garner obvious respect from teammates and coaches alike.
Summary: Both will gain invaluable experience during spring practice. Expect a later post breaking down the rookie QBs in greater detail.
Enrolled: Bryant Koback
Tale of the tape: 6’0 200
Strengths: Versatile, highly productive speedster. Appears to love the game of football.
Summary: Love this kid’s attitude. Perfect, instant complementary running style to Benny Snell with breakaway speed and high-level pass catching ability. Health (suffered HS injury) could play role in regards to early playing time.
Commitments: Isaiah Epps, JaVonte Richardson, Clevan Thomas (Early enrollee)
Tale of the tape: Average-6’2 193-pounds
Strengths: Diverse bunch with high YAC commonalty. Epps is a polished route runner (can effectively execute all patterns within a college route tree). Richardson and Thomas are freakish athletes with elusive speed to bolster midlevel screen game and influence vertical routes.
Summary: Strong collection of explosive athletes with the ability and mature physical traits to be considered for immediate playing time. Noteworthy: all three were active without the football meaning that blocking seemed to matter. This separates this class from prior.
*YAC-Yards after Catch
Commitments: DE Christopher Whittaker, DE Joshua Pashcal, DE Jordan Wright, DT Quinton Bohanna, DT Phil Hoskins
Tale of the tape: Average-6’4 ¼ 268-pounds
Strengths: Joshua Pascal is elite, plain, simple, and true. Wright’s potential is untapped as his ceiling is as high as any prospect in recent memory. Whittaker is another strong candidate for the 2017 Josh Allen Award and possesses Jordan Jones like intensity.
Bohanna and Hoskins are physical vs. run with equal acumen in pass rush. More importantly, both can play multiple positions along the line-of-scrimmage. One of the two may factor in 17.
Summary: Collective pass rush ability grades extremely high. SEC hierarchy is separated amongst the defensive front. Stoops’ 17 DL haul gives the Cats a fighting chance in that department.
*Classifying Paschal-Wright-Whittaker at defensive end is mere speculation as their college position will be determined in fall camp.
Commitments: Alex King, Jamin Davis (Early enrollee)
Tale of the tape: Average-6’4 222 ½ pounds
Strengths: Excellent height, range, instincts, and football IQ.
Summary: King was considered by some as the Midwest’s top Jack LB pass rusher. Jamin Davis is special; potential team captain down the road.
Commitments: Michael Nesbitt, Lonnie Johnson (Early enrollee), Cedrick Dort (Early enrollee), Yusuf Corker
Tale of the tape: Average-6’0 ½ 186-pounds
Strengths: Speed and college-ready coverage skills. Diverse skill sets; able to play multiple secondary positions.
Summary: Averaging over 6’0, Kentucky’s continued quest for a tall secondary continues. 2017 is Stoops’ 3rd consecutive class of identifying, recruiting, and soon to be signing a top-shelf defensive back class.
Commitments: Lynn Bowden, Tyrell Ajian, Joshua Ali
Tale of the tape: Average-6’0 ¾ 182-pounds
Strengths: Fast, fast, and even faster football players with the size, strength, and ability to play numerous positions. Need to clarify “fast.” There is a difference in field speed vs. track times. These three have serious fluid, field speed combined with change of direction burst.
Summary: Stoops’ best class of game-changing ATHs with a collective film grade of: “Wow.” I tend to prefer prospects that play multiple positions and sports. Both Ajian and Bowden recently surpassed 1000 points on the basketball court. Ali is not as highly rated as Ajian and Bowden but big play capability will surface upon Lexington arrival.
A major purpose for my recent vacation was for isolation for a head-first dive into the film room. Word-document used in evaluation for the 2017 Class now numbers over 6,000 characters and growing as I update twice per week. For what it’s worth, my grades of this class indicate a high number of potential all conference performers.
I have another post in the works outlining the specifics on how I evaluate prospects. Safe to say there will be much, much to come on the Class of 2017 as we close in on National Signing Day.