Friday, November 12, 2010

Who They Remind Me Of: 2011 Quarterbacks

Disclaimer: These comparisons are made in relation to physical attributes and playing style rather than career projections (unless noted). If I left someone off, it's not an indictment on their skill level or where I think they should be ranked. This is NOT my ranking of top 2011 quarterbacks. Prospects are listed in alphabetical order.

Michael Brewer (Texas Tech Verbal)- Todd Reesing (Kansas)
Why? Undersized playmakers at the high school and college level...have been prolific in pretty much every situation...gun slinger mentality, not afraid to stick the ball in a tight window...products of Big XII style spread offenses that are all the rage in Texas high school football.
Why Not? Doubtful Brewer will see as many reps early in his career as Reesing, considering Texas Tech has a bevy of talented quarterbacks on roster.
If not Reesing, then- Chase Daniel (Missouri, New Orleans Saints)

Jacoby Brissett (Florida State, South Carolina, Wisconisn, etc. in contention)- Josh Freeman (Kansas St., Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Why? Big, athletic quarterbacks with tools...very strong arms...could have a similar career trajectory, in that potential isn't realized until four or five years out of high school (see Freeman's recent success in the NFL). Underdeveloped at the high school level, but very high ceiling as a player.
Why Not? Both play(ed) basketball (very well at that), with Brissett being the better player but Freeman being the better athlete (Brissett is more of a savvy player). Freeman was a bit stronger and more explosive at similar points in their careers. It's also difficult to predict a path like Freeman, who benefited from early playing time at Kansas State.
If not Freeman, then- Ben Roethlisberger (Miami (OH), Pittsburgh Steelers)

Jeff Driskel (Florida Verbal)- Jay Cutler (Vanderbilt, Denver Broncos, Chicago Bears)
Why? Both have huge arms and a gun slinger mentality...fairly similar mechanically...have a tendency/need to put the team on their backs which can lead to both great plays and mistakes due to pressing...underrated athletically (Driskel runs well and Cutler doubled as a star safety and basketball player in high school).
Why Not? Driskel is much bigger and stronger than Cutler was at the same stage in their careers. It will be interesting to see how Driskel is used at Florida...it's possible that he'll play in a scheme that's differs from Vandy's during the Cutler era.
If not Cutler, then- Rhett Bomar (Oklahoma, Sam Houston St, New York Giants) or Brady Quinn (Notre Dame, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos)

Everett Golson (North Carolina Verbal, taking official visit to Notre Dame)- Charlie Ward (Florida State, New York Knicks (NBA))
Why? Similar point guard mentality while running a spread offense...great pocket presence and able to steal (not buy) time in the pocket to extend plays...excellent agility and change of direction...excellent vision as a passer and ability to make almost every throw at the college level.
Why Not? Ward is an inch or two taller and was a tad thicker in college (played at 190), but I expect Golson to be in that weight range by the time he's an upperclassman. Playing in a pass-heavy scheme Golson is more experienced as a passer at this stage, whereas Ward was a better runner/scrambler early on.
If not Ward, then- Joe Hamilton (Georgia Tech, Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

Cody Kessler (Southern Cal Verbal)- Chad Henne (Michigan, Miami Dolphins)
Why? Stocky pocket passers with ability to make every throw...strong arms...polished at similar points in their careers...great fit for pro-style offenses...similar competitive mindset as both have the moxie and attitude you'd like to see from your starting quarterback...despite holding the ball differently, have a similar throwing motion and release point.
Why Not? Kessler holds the ball higher (near his ear) while Henne holds it down near his chest. Kessler is a better athlete at this point (star basketball player).
If not Henne, then- David Garrard (East Carolina, Jacksonville Jaguars)

Christian LeMay (Georgia Verbal)- John Brantley (Florida)
Why? Very polished mechanically...spin the ball exceptionally well...played in similar balanced offenses for great programs at the high school level...similar size and physical tools as prospects...not huge running threats, but mobile in the pocket and can pick up yards when needed...both groomed to be quarterbacks.
Why Not? Appear to differ mentally...Brantley is laid back, while LeMay is more of a vocal leader.
If not Brantley, then- Chris Leak (Florida)

Braxton Miller (Ohio State Verbal)- Robert Griffin, III (Baylor)
Why? Similar physically...both long-striding and electric...exceptional cutback ability as a runner...can really bust through the crease...long arms offer the ability to really "ride out" reads in the spread option game...strong arm capable of making every throw at the college level...raw as a passer coming out of high school.
Why Not? Griffin has better passing mechanics overall with a more natural throwing motion...Miller is a better leader at similar points in their careers.
If not Griffin, then- Pat White (West Virginia, Miami Dolphins)

Jerrard Randall (Oregon Verbal)- Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech)
Why? Shorter QB with a big arm...raw and underdeveloped as a passer in high school...plays/played a sandlot style of offense at the high school level...athletic and quick in the run game on both designed runs and scrambles.
Why Not? Since he's going to Oregon to play in a spread option offense, Randall's career trajectory is going to be different than Taylor's, who is in more of a pro-style system at Virginia Tech. Taylor is thicker than Randall and a little ahead fundamentally at the same stage.
If not Taylor, then- Brent Schaeffer (Tennessee, Ole Miss)

Bubba Starling (Nebraska Verbal)- Cam Newton (Florida, Auburn)
Why? Jumbo athletes who can really, really run...ability to run with both power and breakaway speed...strong arm...raw as passers at the high school level
Why Not? Starling is more experienced as a runner at the high school level...Newton really blossomed as a runner late in his senior year and early on at Florida...Newton has much better passing mechanics and appears to be more of a natural at the position. It should also be noted that Starling is a top baseball prospect and it's unlikely he'll be in a football uniform next season.
If not Newton, then- Tim Tebow (Florida, Denver Broncos)

Jamal Turner (Nebraska Verbal)- Russell Sheppard (LSU)
Why? Athlete playing quarterback moreso than quarterback who happens to be an athlete...run-first mentality...position change (slot wide receiver) eminent.
Why Not? It's not debatable at this point that Sheppard is more explosive than Turner.
If not Sheppard, then- Tyrik Rollison (Auburn, Sam Houston State)

Justin Worley (Tennessee Verbal)- Nick Foles (Michigan State, Arizona)
Why? Finesse rhythm passers...capable ball distributors with nice touch...accurate in the short passing game...good size with ability to see over the defensive line...limited mobility...can be a statue in the pocket which can lead to problems vs. pressure-oriented defenses...solid leadership ability and calm under pressure.
Why Not? Foles is thicker and has a quicker release (though Worley's has improved a little)...Foles also has a stronger arm, but not by a wide margin.
If not Foles, then- Tony Pike (Cincinnati, Carolina Panthers)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dillon-Loris Game/Prospect Thoughts

I was on hand to watch the Wildcats defeat region foe Loris (6-2 entering the game) 35-6. Despite winning the last two AA state championships, Dillon came into this game with an 8-0 start for the first time since the 2004 season, which saw the Wildcats rip off a 14-0 start, only to fall to Belton Honea-Path in the AAA state final. Since 2004, Dillon has moved down in classification, but has struggled against Pee Dee powers Cheraw, Marlboro County, and Myrtle Beach. The Wildcats were 56-13 from 2005-2009, with 11 of those 13 losses shared between the aforementioned three teams. The 2010 season has seen Dillon exorcise those demons; the Wildcats have soundly beaten Cheraw and Marlboro County and removed Myrtle Beach from their schedule after the Seahawks scored the most points for a team visiting Dillon in memory.

This year's team might not be Dillon's deepest, but has the most high-end talent in years. It's been a while since Dillon has had a sure-fire FBS player (to my knowledge, Derrick Hamilton (Clemson) was the last).

Kwinton Smith, WR, (2012)- Despite only catching 3 or 4 balls, I was very impressed with what I saw from Smith. For starters, Smith passes the eye test. He's in the 6'4 range, has long arms, and is a bouncy athlete. Smith displayed great concentration, hands, and speed on a slant pattern, extending to catch the ball and finishing the play with an impressive spin move. He also showed willingness to block and even recorded a pancake on one occasion. I've seen some early film on Smith from this season, and I was surprised by his speed. There's no doubt in my mind that Smith is positioning himself along Gaffney's Quinshad Davis as the early favorites for the top receiver in South Carolina for the 2012 cycle.

DJ Park, OL, (2013)- Park, like Smith, passes the eyeball test. He has very little fat on his body, is solidly built, and moves very well. Park lined up at left tackle for the Wildcats, and played well for the most part, but is understandably raw from a technique standpoint. He has a tendency to block with his forearms, and like almost all young linemen, he doesn't yet realize how much more powerful he than his competition. Park is the early favorite for the top offensive lineman in South Carolina for the 2013 cycle.

Others from Dillon to watch:
Jabo Lee, RB, (2012)
Bryce King, OL, (2013)
Breden Alford, OL, (2013)
Tyquan Hayes, ATH/QB, (2011)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Big Junior Season for Solomon

Hemingway, SC 2012 athlete Jabril Solomon is in the midst of a great junior campaign.  The Tigers find themselves 8-0 thanks in large part to Solomon's play on both sides of the ball. Up to this point, Solomon has 30 catches (team has only completed 68 passes total) for 644 yards (21.46 avg), 10 receiving touchdowns, and 5 interceptions.

Solomon had his best game to date last week versus cross-town rival Johnsonville. Check this stat line... 3 receiving touchdowns and 3 interceptions, with one returned for another touchdown.

Solomon gets credits for style points, too, with acrobatic catches becoming the norm on a weekly basis. This Hemingway team is very fun to watch and has one of the best defenses in the state, having only given up 20 points the entire season (five shutouts).

As a prospect, Solomon is obviously versatile, but at this point I like him a little more as a safety. He's long, has excellent ball skills, and isn't afraid of contact.

You can watch game highlights of Solomon and Hemingway here.

Monday, October 18, 2010

South Pointe-Fairfield Central Game/Prospect Thoughts

Last Friday, I made the trip to Winnsboro, SC to take in a big region match-up featuring two of AAA's top three teams. Fairfield Central came into the week undefeated, making this their biggest home game in recent memory. Having the consensus number one player in the nation for the class of 2011 coming into town certainly doesn't hurt, either.

The game, as a whole, was a very sloppy affair. I didn't keep count, but I'd say there were anywhere between 6-8 fumbles between both teams, with the majority being recovered by the defense. Both teams are going to have to improve throughout the rest of the season if they want to win a state championship.

South Pointe


Jadeveon Clowney, DE (2011)- Clowney didn't have one of his better games, by any stretch, but still made a huge impact, on both sides of the ball. Fairfield Central ran away from him on nearly every play and in passing situations would chip him with left guard and running back if he were to beat the left tackle. This wasn't a game where Clowney had a ton of sacks, in fact I don't recall him having one. Despite that, he still had some of his patented plays in pursuit. Clowney's biggest impact came as a situational B-Back in South Pointe's flexbone offense, finishing with 61 yards on 8 carries and a touchdown. It was boom or bust with Clowney carrying the ball, which is to be expected, considering he hasn't played a lot of running back. Apart from three 15+ yard runs (including the touchdown and another impressive run where he trucked two defenders) Clowney was stopped for short gains and had a fumble in the red zone. But hey, it's not every day you see a 6'6', 250 lb running back, especially at the high school level.

Gerald Dixon, DL (2011)- Dixon like Clowney didn't have his best game. With Fairfield Central running away from Clowney on nearly every play, Dixon saw a lot of action on his side of the field. Fairfield Central did have some success running right at Dixon and most of their 155 rushing yards were to Dixon's side. Dixon did step up when needed, though, and made a big stop on a pivotal 4th and 5 and had a sack that iced the game.

Montay Crockett, ATH (2012)- In a game that didn't have many explosive plays, at least offensively, Crockett provided two huge catches for South Pointe, including pivotal 25 yard touchdown where he beat man coverage on a post route. Crockett might not be as explosive as Neely or Hicklin, but he's consistent and continues to get better every time I see him.

Corey Neely, DB (2012)- Neely wasn't tested a bunch at safety, considering Fairfield Central's receivers only ran go routes and comebacks the entire game. Neely did affect the game with several nice kickoff and punt returns in addition to a big 11 yard run on 4th down on a drive that would result in South Pointe's first of two touchdowns.

Tay Hicklin, ATH (2012)- Hicklin had a rough night from his QB spot, only running for 9 yards on 7 carries and getting ejected in the second quarter for an altercation on the sidelines after a late hit. Under SCHSL rules, if a player is ejected, they must sit out the following game. South Pointe could appeal the suspension, but it would take pretty strong video evidence for that to happen.

Landon Ard, K/P (2011)- Ard showed a strong leg kickoffs, putting them in the endzone with relative ease. He also had nice hangtime on most of his punts, but did shank both a punt and a field goal attempt.

Fairfield Central


Ralph Cooper, LB (2011)- Apart from a fumble recovery and a few tackles, I didn't hear Cooper's name called much at all. Despite already knowing that he straddles the 5'11-6'0 mark, I still thought he looked short for a linebacker from where I was sitting.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

JUCO Spotlight: Cordarrelle Patterson

Cordarrelle Patterson
Patterson is a 6'3, 190 pound wide receiver for Hutchinson Community College in Hutchinson, KS and is originally from Northwestern High School in Rock Hill, SC. Despite being a 2009 recruit coming out of high school, this is Patterson's freshman season at Hutchinson. He spent the 2009 season at the beleaguered North Carolina Prep Tech, a post-graduate program. 

I had the opportunity to see Patterson play his final high school game vs. arch-rival South Pointe in the class AAAA Division II state championship. Patterson more than held his own against a South Pointe squad that ended the season ranked as high as number two in the country and featured current University of South Carolina starters Stephon Gilmore and DeVonte Holloman as well as a sophomore Jadeveon Clowney, who is currently the consensus number one player in the nation for the class of 2011. Patterson made one of the more impressive plays of the game when he leaped over Holloman, who was in good position to make a play, snagging a fade pass from Justin Worley for a touchdown. 

People around Northwestern, and Rock Hill in general, rave about Patterson's talent, with some even claiming that he is one of the better athletes to come out of York County in recent memory (called "a dunking machine" in basketball and also ran track).

Patterson has been just as impressive this season at Hutchinson and through four games has 18 catches for 334 yards (18.5 yard average) and four touchdowns and three kickoff returns for 137 yards and one touchdown. 

Last January, I came across some clips of Patterson in action his senior year of high school and made this brief highlight video.

video

Not to get ahead of myself, but doesn't he kind of look like a Vikings-era Randy Moss with the number 84 purple and gold jersey and long stride? All hyperbolic comparisons aside, as you can see above, he's pretty talented.  To add to his high level of overall athleticism, he's long, rangy, explosive (reportedly runs in the 4.3 range), and has great ball skills (particularly tracking the ball in the air).  And he's still raw as a wide receiver. There's really not much to dislike here. 

Given his post-graduate year, I'm not sure where Patterson stands academically as far as when he'll be eligible to enroll at a four-year school. Regardless, I'd rank him as the top JUCO wide receiver prospect regardless of class. If he ends up as a class of 2012 prospect, I'd expect for him to make a strong case for the top JUCO prospect in that cycle.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Byrnes at Myrtle Beach Prospect Thoughts

Byrnes

Shakeem Wharton, RB (2012)- Coming into this game, I along with many others, expected Wharton to be the focal point of the Byrnes offense. While he did end up with a solid number of carries (21 for 66 yards and 2 touchdowns of 2 and 8 yards) it was evident from the first drive that this wasn't the same overly conservative Byrnes offense that so many saw on ESPN a week earlier. Wharton went about a drive and a half into the game without a touch and then toted the ball 6-7 straight times, resulting in his first touchdown and the bulk of his yards. After that drive, Wharton wasn't as effective as I expected him to be and had limited running room for the remainder of the night. This game didn't do too much to change my initial impression of Wharton's game...he's a compact runner who runs hard and has good vision and feet through the hole. My biggest question about Wharton remains to be his open-field running ability and ability to break off long runs. In his defense, he has played two teams.

Greg McHam, WR (2014)- With Byrnes missing tight end Craig Weick and receivers Tony Hillman and Akia Booker, McHam, only a freshman, became Blair's go-to target. McHam was impressive, especially when you consider that this was only the second game of his career. Byrnes stuck with a quick passing attack for most of the game and McHam played a big role in the plan's relative success, hauling in 10 passes for 62 yards. From what I saw Friday night, McHam has a promising future in Byrnes's offense. I expect he and Booker (once he returns) to continue to jell with Blair as the season progresses.

Zach Blair, QB- Blair would be my pick for the game's MVP (considering his stats and game-winning TD pass). In only the second start of his career, Blair took several steps in the right direction, following a spotty performance vs. Hoover in week 1. In an attempt to increase production after the program's first scoreless outing in a decade, Byrnes opened up the offense considerably. Blair threw a bunch of passes and found most of his success in the short passing game. Blair was 27-40 for 301 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. He was at his best on he game winning drive, hitting several short passes as the clock wound down, before hitting Evan Suddeth on a 36 yard touchdown pass with 24 seconds left on the clock. Blair's a guy with good size and arm strength that just needs more game reps and added confidence. He should continue to improve throughout the regular season and have Byrnes primed for a deep run into the Big 16 playoffs.

Myrtle Beach

Everett Golson, QB- The game's top prospect, Golson performed as I expected he would and looked much better than he did against Byrnes last season. Golson opened the game with an outstanding 45 yard touchdown run on an option keeper that was ultimately called back on a holding penalty. The play showed an explosive side of Golson's game that you don't see very much, as he looks to pass first nearly all of the time. It's easy to forget he's an elite athlete. Despite all this, the big story of the night was a foot/ankle injury that Golson sustained after being tackled awkwardly with seconds remaining in the first half. He was out for the remainder of the game and will miss a number of regular season games.

Tyler Knox, DE (2012)- Knox had the best game of his young career and led a Myrtle Beach defensive line unit that gave the Byrnes front trouble for most of the night. Knox had two drive-ending sacks on consecutive Byrnes third downs with the first pushing the Rebels out of plausible field goal range (attempt was well short). Knox has a nice first step and good speed off the edge. I look for him to continue to improve as the season moves forward.

Daiquone Ford RB- If Blair was the game's MVP, Ford was the obvious pick for MOP (most outstanding player). Playing healthy for the first time since his sophomore year, Ford had the best game of his career (considering the competition). Ford rushed 15 times for 124 yards (8.3 yards a carry) and had one reception for 16 yards. Ford's best moment came on one of the top three plays of the night (with Blair's game-winning TD pass and Golson's run being the two others) when Ford, with five minutes remaining, took a pitch to the outside and hurdled a Byrnes defender on the way to a 16 yard, game-tying touchdown run. Ford isn't a guy that's going to wow anyone off the hoof (listed at 5'8, 165 but probably shorter), but he's cat-quick, runs hard, and is very difficult to tackle. He's primed to be Myrtle Beach's first 1,000 yard rusher in over 5 seasons and the first since the Seahawks have switched to a spread offense. He'd be an absolute steal for the right FCS program.

Alex Holoman, S- Holoman had a busy night from his safety spot and was the most productive defensive player, on either side, by a pretty good margin. Holoman had 2 interceptions (64 INT return yards), 7 solo tackles, and a fumble recovery. Holoman's presence in the secondary limited Byrnes's success in the vertical passing game and his drive-killing turnovers kept Myrtle Beach in the game. Holoman will see increased recruiting attention should he continue this high level of play.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Northwestern (SC)-South Pointe (SC) Prospect Thoughts

South Pointe (Rock Hill, SC)  v. Northwestern (Rock Hill, SC)

South Pointe

Jadeveon Clowney- Clowney's mere presence dominated the flow of the game in the first half, as Northwestern made it a point to find Clowney pre-snap and adjust the play in an effort to avoid him. Despite this, Clowney still made some big plays, including a few sacks and a huge stop in the backfield on fourth and short. In an apparent (and mostly successful) effort to create confusion, South Pointe played him all over the field, including both end spots, inside on several run situations, and at the "Jack" OLB position. At the high school level, Clowney is going to be successful at nearly any spot, but it was evident Saturday that he's most effective rushing the passer with his hand on the ground. There's no need for smoke and mirrors with his physical tools. It's not a coincidence that Northwestern scored on a deep touchdown pass when Clowney dropped back in coverage.

Tay Hicklin (2012)- It was rough day for Hicklin. With Hicklin running the new flexbone triple option, South Pointe really struggled to move the ball consistently and had a number of costly turnovers. Despite these inefficiencies, it's not like the game was an indictment on Hicklin's talent. Even though he struggled, I thought Hicklin flashed solid athleticism at times. Was he a dynamic playmaker Saturday? No, but it shouldn't be lost that Hicklin projects as a defensive back. Additionally, I think you'll see South Pointe's offense improve drastically as the season progresses.

Corey Neely (2012)- Neely had a very good first half, making a number of plays, including a big interception. The second half was a different story for South Pointe's entire secondary, as Northwestern made some adjustments and really took advantage of some advantageous scenarios. Over the past few years, I've noticed that South Pointe has probably the most aggressive secondary I've seen at the high school level, in terms of running to the ball, gambling on passes, etc. There's a good and bad to this. Most of the time, particularly vs. lesser competition, this works in South Pointe's favor due to their hellacious pass rush. In this particular game, Northwestern noticed that South Pointe was bringing up the secondary to stop short passes and as a result, started running vertical passing plays. South Pointe didn't have an answer for this and their secondary, Neely included, was a mess in the second half. At this point in his career Neely's a very solid player, but the game highlighted a few things he can improve upon (man coverage and adding overall bulk).

Gerald Dixon- With Northwestern devoting a ton of attention to Clowney, Dixon had an opportunity to make some plays and did so by making a few stops behind the line of scrimmage and recovering a fumble and nearly scoring. While Dixon's performance didn't do too much to hurt him, he didn't do a whole lot to stand out in a game with several other BCS-level prospects. I may have overestimated Dixon's overall athleticism given his size in my previous evaluation (seen here). As far as state rankings go, after Saturday, he seems more like a fringe top 30 prospect rather than number 23, where I originally ranked him.

Northwestern

Justin Worley- It was the tale of two halves for Worley. Early on, he battled constant pressure, threw a few bad interceptions (one was a bad throw, the other a bad decision), and just looked uncomfortable. He caught fire in the second half and was 12-12 for 240 yards and 5 touchdowns in the 3rd quarter alone. This fits in with my earlier assertion that Worley is a rhythm passer with a lot of intangibles. It's been said many times before that Worley's mobility is a concern. While he's by no means a threat to run, Worley did a very good job of side-stepping the rush and showed nice ability to recognize pressure.  Conversely, it was apparent that he needs to really improve his footwork (as well as tweak his release). There were several points in the game where these inefficiencies resulted in the ball not coming out cleanly or coming up short. After re-watching film on Worley, I found that even on his highlights, he doesn't step into his throws and has a tendency to rely solely on his arm. Worley's arm strength/velocity should improve if/when he corrects these issues.

Gerald Dixon, Jr.- Dixon's stock has been on the rise for me throughout the back end of the summer and his performance Saturday went a long way to cementing his status as a top 20 recruit in-state after he took a step back from his sophomore to junior seasons. Dixon played a key role in stymieing South Pointe's option attack and did so by blowing up the fullback gives and making high-level plays sideline-to-sideline. It's rare to find big defensive tackles that can move, and Dixon fits the bill.

Roderick Byers- Byers's game was somewhat like Worley's but on a smaller scale. I almost forgot Byers was on the field in the first half and didn't hear his name called until well into the third quarter. In his defense, South Pointe's offense doesn't necessarily provide defensive ends with a lot of opportunities to make plays. However, once South Pointe fell behind and was forced to open things up, flashed his potential by making a couple of nice plays behind the nine of scrimmage.

Josh Shelton (2012)- Shelton had the most consistent performance of the 2012 prospects. Although he wasn't tested a bunch through the air, Shelton was active and physical in run support and looked impressive throughout the course of the game.