We’ve seen the offensive lines under John Schlarman quickly grow into some of the best in the country and on the recruiting trail they continue to add ballplayers to help maintain the strong brand that has been established by the Big Blue Wall. This time UK went up to Detroit and added what looks to be your prototypical left tackle at the next level.
Steve Clinkscale put in work in this recruiting class and while in Michigan he scooped up Justin Rogers and Earnest Sanders, but also recruited a big time offensive tackle out of Martin Luther King High School in Detroit. The top-400 prospect per the 247 Sports Composite is ranked as a top-35 tackle in this class and had plenty of suitors. The staff was really excited to get his commitment on August 19th.
YAHTZEE!! ?? pic.twitter.com/vNliwChqqr
— Mark Stoops (@UKCoachStoops) August 19, 2019
There were a handful of Big Ten programs who offered Buford (Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan State, Minnesota, Purdue, Penn State) in addition to Auburn, Boston College, Iowa State, Kansas, Miami, Missouri, Louisville, Tennessee and West Virginia. Over the summer, Buford officially visited both Purdue and Kentucky before deciding in August that Lexington was the place he wanted to call home.
The prospect was not super active on social media, but it is clear that many, many schools were intrigued by his skill set. Clinkscale continues to recruit Michigan very well and has pulled in five players from that area in the last three recruiting hauls. UK is starting to build a pipeline in Detroit.
The Football Player
At The Opening this past March, Deondre Buford checked in at 6-foot-4 and 273 pounds. When you watch is tape, that size seems accurate. The projected left tackle is very slender for his size but it is clear that he has the frame to put on some good weight and loose some of the baby fat. Despite the short height for a tackle, Buford has what appears to be some really good length to go with excellent positional athleticism.
In pass protection, he shows some really good balance and some quality striking ability with his hands. His athleticism really helps him stay in front of speed rushers while he uses some really advanced footwork to adjust when a defender goes with a power move. In the run game, he also uses that athleticism.
With Bowden Ball, we saw a ton of counters that required both the backside guard and tackle to pull around and take on defenders in space. Buford has the ability to develop into a really good puller. In the power game, there were times on tape where the offensive tackle got over powered, but things to some really strong fundamentals he was able to recover with some nifty footwork and flash off some impressive leg drive once he gets the engine rolling.
He needs to add a good amount of mass and strength, but he has tools that could allow him to develop into a really good offensive tackle. Kentucky landed a high ceiling prospect who will need some development, but he is coming to college with some major tools.
Kentucky has had some success turning projected offensive tackles into guards who eventually play at a very high level. Both Luke Fortner and Logan Stenberg were projected by some to play tackle, but the two combined this year to be one of the best offensive guard duos in the country despite both being 6-foot-6. Deondre Buford is shorter than both, but I would be surprised if he is not a tackle at the next level.
Despite some other offensive lineman that Kentucky has brought in, Buford’s biggest strength is currently in the pass protection game and that bucks a trend of what UK has built in their offensive line room. We’ve seen UK build their line with some road graders, but Buford is not that yet in his career. However, his fundamentals are really good and he was a three-year starter at a football power in Michigan. He’s been very well-coached and that shows up on tape. Of all the players in this recruiting class, the strength and conditioning program at Kentucky could pay the biggest dividends for this offensive tackle prospect.
Thanks to some of the depth on the offensive line, it appears that Naasir Watkins will take over once Landon Young graduates following 2021 and that gives Buford plenty of development time. Despite the obvious skills, Kentucky could have a long-term project who will be ready to rock and roll three years down the road when he is over 300 pounds and has sharpened all of of his skills.