Stepping into the film room ($) -- Chris Jones. Despite his size, the word on Jones from his coach was that he coaches the ball well in traffic. From his film, he certainly does, but someone his size doesn't project as an outside deep threat in college and the Longhorns won't ask him to do that. What Jones does well that will translate to college is adjust on the ball, using a hip fluidity that is either natural or was developed while playing some defensive back for his high school. His ability to adjust allows him to corral slightly errant throws, while still maintaining his speed. That hip fluidity also allows him to turn his shoulders and present a narrow target in traffic, making him surprisingly difficult to bring down, aided by what appears to be above-average balance, judging from the missed tackles on his film. The competition may not be great, but I honestly haven't seen any film of Lache Seastrunk that shows a lot of broken tackles, as a point of comparison. Jones' balance is really impressive for someone his size. He isn't visibly strong at this point, but any weight work in college should focus on maximizing his speed and the strength in his core and legs. Improving hs core and leg strength could make him even more difficult to bring down.
While Jones doesn't have absolutely elite top-end speed, with his 40 time listed alternatively as 4.4 or 4.5, he does have elite quickness. That quickness allows him to change plant and cut witih the ball in his hands running the sweep from the slot position that Missouri and Florida use. The ability to plant and cut doesn't mean nearly as much if the runner can't see or anticipate a hole opening up. In the wide receiver sweep play, it's usually a zone blocking play where the hole isn't pre-determined by the play. Whether receiving a hand off or catching a screen pass -- at which Jones excels -- the Daingerfield receiver has exceptional vision and knowledge of angles, an ability that effectively increases his top-end speed.
Jones is also benefited by his short stride -- which allows him to change directions quickly, shaking defenders in the open field, or making them pay for breaking down with a fake step and shoulder fake on double moves. On one play from the slot, Jones fakes a quick route into the flat before absolutely exploding in the wheel route and past defenders that appear as if in slow motion. The ability to turn the corner sharply and accelerate was extremely impressive. When he gets match ups against safeties in the slot, it's a big mismatch.
The one main area of criticism is that he doesn't have elite lateral quickness, preferring to maintain his speed and attempt to make himself small instead of changing directions laterally in the way that Jamaal Charles, for instance, was known for doing. It's a small criticism, and somewhat mitigated by maintaining his speed, which doesn't allow the pursuit to gain valuable ground were Jones to stop and attempt to juke the defender. Kid knows how to get north and south and looks like a great pick up for the wide receiver class. A track star in addition to his football exploits, his overal explosiveness will allow him to compete for a position returning kicks and punts, a true gamebreaking skill.
Stepping into the film room ($) -- Ashton Dorsey. The Tyler product has a solid motor, aided by his above-average quickness ($) for a defensive end. What I continue to fail to understand about high school defensive tackles is their complete inability to play with good pad level. Isn't that what the sled drills are for? To his credit, however, the John Tyler product does play with much better pad level on running downs, showing an inability to shed the blocker and make the play in the middle. When he does play with good pad level, the combination of his explosiveness, strength, and leverage are truly sudden and disruptive. Dorsey also fails in the other common complaint for defensive tackles his age -- he fails to use his hands in a consistently violent manner.
Where Dorsey does excel is in his quickness, using it in pass-rushing situations when he plays with any kind of decent pad level to bull rush the quarterback, a skill that should develop significantly with good coaching in college. For a defensive tackle, he has probably average college-level lateral quickness, more reminiscent of college defensive ends spun down to the defensive tackle position than a space-eater in high school. He's no Jay Guy, often showing impressive burst for someone his size, though on other plays he doesn't look as fast.
Dorsey projects as a three technique in college since he won't be likely to demand double teams, but he does show the beginnings of an ability to maintain his gap responsibility. At 275 pounds currently, Dorsey should work more on maxmizing his lateral quickness and explosiveness than developing pure weight -- in other words, watch his body fat level closely and challenge him in drills measuring change of direction and explosiveness, like the shuttle drill.
Stepping into the film room ($) -- Greg Daniels. Showing his athleticisim, Daniels has maintained a good first step ($) despite adding so much weight in the last year (two inches and forty pounds ($)), using his quickness to move down the line of scrimmage on roll outs and crash down the back side of plays when unblocked. Given that is father is 6-7, his grandfather 6-6, and his uncle 6-5, Daniels could well have more room to grow, suggesting untapped potential, at the very least since he isn't used to playing at his current size.
Unlike some defensive ends who pin their ears back and head to the quarterback with no awareness, Daniels shows the ability to diagnose and disrupt screen plays, reading them quickly, while possessing the speed to finish after diagnosing. That ability helps Daniels avoid getting too far upfield when the quarterback gets flushed from the pocket, using his his change of direction and explosiveness to redirect with the quarterback.
While Daniels generally makes teams pay for blocking him with a running back or tight end, he needs to work on being more violent with his hands to quickly shed defenders, instead of grabbing them and throwing them to the ground, which takes too much time.
Austin to Austin? It's somewhat strange talking about basketball players who are freshman in high school, but Zach Peters got me used to it a little bit last week. The reason for discussing Peters -- his Longhorn offer and visit for the Oklahoma game -- also applies to Austin, who also attended. Already nearly 6-11 ($) (doctors say he may keep growing), Austin doesn't post the gaudy numbers of Peters, scoring seven points, securing five rebounds, and blocking three shots per game, but he does have a superior pedigree, as Austin's father, Alex, played in the NBA, and his uncle, Ike, had a successful career, too. Adding weight will be helpful for such a gangly kid, but he does help his cause with his ability to hit the mid-range jump shot, which may means that he projects as more of a LaMarcus Aldrige four than a banging, back-to-the-basket center.
Another wing on the radar. Rick Barnes is fed up with not having enough talented wing players at Texas. With Jordan Hamilton and Shawn Williams already committed and Daniel Bejarano headed to Austin in the 2010 class, Texas will no longer be bereft of wings who can handle the ball and shoot -- the biggest match-up problem in college basketball.
It's possible that Houston Bellaire's 6-5, 180-pound 2011 wing Sheldon McClellan will be the next in line ($). If that high school sounds famiiar, it's the school that produced both Lucas brothers. After Jai joined the Longhorns in early January, he took up an unofficial position in the program as Bellaire's personal recruiter, getting in McClellan's ear about coming to Texas, a connection helped by the former working during the summer in difficult workouts with Jai's father, notorious for such punishing workouts and for helping TJ Ford rehabilitate. Aiding the Lucas connection are McClellan's two visits to Texas already -- one for the A&M game and one for the OU game. In an up-and-down basketball season, McClellan was at least able to see two of the positive performances.
McClellan currently averages 18.5 points, five rebounds, and three assists for playoff-bound Bellaire.