With Signing Day rapidly approaching and the great majority of the Longhorns' 2009 class already committed, it's time to look at each individual prospect.
Name: Kyle Kriegel
Speed: 4.78 forty-yard dash
High School: Elysian Fields
Rating (Rivals): Three out of five
Kriegel has a good motor ($), showing lateral quickness and an ability to disrupt passing lanes by getting his hands up when he can't get to the quarterback. Offensive lineman showing poor technique coming off the ball get consistently exposed by Kriegel, as he uses his ability to get his hands on them and get into the backfield.
Even coming from a relatively small school, Kriegel's production is impressive: 116 tackles, 38 tackles for loss, nine sacks, and six forced fumbles as a sophomore, then 132 tackles, 32 tackles for loss, and 15 sacks as a junior, production that earned him 2A Defensive Player of the Year honors. Starting with the least-regarded players in the recruiting class and working towards the top, this phrase will be overused by the end of the month, but Kriegel's production indicates that beyond physical tangibles, he's a football player. And since this isn't body-building competition or a combine, that's what matters.
In looking at the other schools pursuing Kriegel, Oklahoma, LSU, Texas Tech, and Texas A&M were all after him, indicating that other top programs see something in Kriegel worth investing in, even if he is a long-term project. He also comes from a winning program, having lost in the state final his junior year ($) and making the playoffs his senior season. It's easy to dismiss Kriegel as roster filler, but the combination of his recruitment by major programs and his significant production in high schools tends to dissuade one from that view.
Perhaps Kriegel's greatest weakness is his current lack of strength. Able to only bench 300 pounds at this point, 40 pounds fewer than Patrick Nkwopara, the diminutive linebacker, Kriegel needs to put in serious time in the weight room before he even has a chance to break into the rotation for Texas. Currently a lean kid, Kriegel has been thought of by some as a spin-down candidate due to his ability to carry significantly more weight than he did in high school.
Like many high school players, Kriegel doesn't use his hands well, which isn't a huge problem, but he also doesn't have explosive quickness off the ball and doesn't always want to engage with blockers, trying to go around them instead. Without overwhelming physical tools, Kriegel will have to work hard to refine his technique on the college level.
Kriegel will not compete for playing time when he gets on campus. It will take several years of hard work on the field refining his technique, and in the weight room getting stronger before he will have a chance to contribute on the football field for the Texas program. Since there are a handful of other defensive line prospects more highly regarded and more likely to receive playing time sooner than later, there isn't any pressure for Kriegel to contribute now, next year, or probably even the year after. He will redshirt this year and may spin down to the defensive tackle position if needed, but if Kriegel ever contributes as part of the defensive line rotation, it won't exactly be surprising, but it will be a relatively unexpected boost to the program.
Kyle Kriegel Highlights (via InsideTexas)