Since joining KSR, Matt asked that I evaluate recruits and provide detailed, understandable analysis prior to National Signing Day. This task is right up my alley. Roster/personnel evaluation has been a hobby of mine for many years. I’ve had the opportunity to participate in the past two UK Signing Day Shows and I have to admit, they’ve both been an absolute blast. Organized chaos overwhelms the facility as adult coaches behave like sugared up toddlers on Christmas. I was told that while walking by the set, DJ Eliot slugged me in the back of the head. I’ll give him that one.
But if that happens again next February, I’m throwing haymakers. If you watched the shows, you may have noticed that I’m continually shuffling a stack of papers. Following a completed segment, I toss a piece of paper on the floor. I spend countless of hours assessing both committed and uncommitted players. The number of prospects can fluctuate between 25 and 50. For each prospect, my evaluation starts with a “First Pass” sheet. I write these documents without interruption as I’m a firm believer in trusting my initial impression. Highlight films are not conducive for a thorough evaluation. I peruse Hudl to find actual game footage. (Hudl is an internet service designed for coaches to view prospective athlete’s video and is the greatest invention since the VCR.)
After the video session, I take a quick look at the recruit’s social media tendencies. Twitter provides a descriptive peek into an athlete’s character. Unlike professional recruiting folks, I’m not enthralled by the summer camp circuit or combines. While basic skills are certainly identified at these events, football is still a collision sport. The mere threat of physical contact can totally change a prospect’s assessment. I’ve watched 4.3-40 prospects with a 40-inch vertical leap that wouldn’t bust a grape in an actual football game.
To finalize my pre-Signing Day notes, I host a teleconference with fellow recruiting analysts. This group doesn’t include Rivals, 247, or Scout contributors. My confidential advisors are comprised of a car manufacturer, two doctors, a soldier, two attorneys, my wife, and a bean counter. We disagree on everything from pizza toppings to pulling guards but the diverse group offers quality control through opinionated and at times, heated discussions. To illustrate a “First Pass Sheet,” I’ll use 2016 QB commit Gunnar Hoak as an example. He’s a QB, and going to be a darn good one. He needs to get used to leading from the front.
2016 NATIONAL SIGNING DAY FIRST PASS SHEET
Name: Gunnar Hoak
Position: Right handed, pro-style quarterback
Measurables: 6’4 192
Hometown: Dublin, Ohio
High School: Coffman
Coached by: Mark Crabtree
Team record: 11-1
Home field surface: Artificial
Recruited by: Vince Marrow
Commitment date: 25 April 2015
Commitment status: Solid
Current star rating: 4 star
Film strengths: Intelligent passer with pocket composure. Technically sound in spread offense responsibilities. Suitable hand size. Quick, fluid delivery without hitch. Advanced sense of anticipation. Adequate torso strength on deep passes. Deceptively mobile with better than average speed. Natural leader, comfortable in pressure situations. Maintains focus throughout scramble drill to find open receiver. Efficient in immediate, shot-gun snap throws, three and five step drops. Can locate receiver and throw into tight windows vs. man/zone coverage. Familiar with passing tree, capable to make all required throws. Not influenced by rush.
Areas to improve: Typical of all incoming freshmen quarterbacks, requires upper body strength and development. Needs to add weight for durability.
Compares to: Connor Cook, Michigan State
Social media conduct: Respectful
Supportive teammate: Yes
Senior year honors: N/A
Academically eligible: Yes
Projected immediate impact: Dependent on Patrick Towles’ development/draft status. Best case scenario to redshirt but not mandatory. If necessary, could be a capable freshman back-up.
Miscellaneous: Threw for over 2000 yards and 30 TD’s as a junior. One of 12 Ohio commits. Multi-sport athlete that also excelled in baseball. Once broke his nose/face on outfield fence. Selfless competitor. QB with “it” factor. Excellent fundamentals, perfect fit for Dawson’s system. Cerebral football player with SEC quarterback ability.
Periodically throughout the summer, I’ll post committed player’s First Pass sheets. Please note that these documents are not proofread for grammatical or spelling errors. Merely summaries for me to use when the camera light turns red and producer yells “go” into the annoying thing in my ear.