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No. 5 SDE Ron Tatum brings athleticism, versatility to Texas recruiting class

The Oklahoma product looks like a future NFL prospect.

Ron Tatum committing to the Longhorns

In the aggressive, multiple defense Todd Orlando is installing with the Texas Longhorns, versatility, length, and athleticism are arguably the three most important qualities to look for in a prospect and Oklahoma City (Okla.) Putnam City defensive end Ron Tatum possesses them all in spades.

“I think the scheme is a good fit for me,” Tatum told Horns247 prior to his Wednesday commitment. “They see me playing the five technique and out.”

At Putnam City, Tatum lines up in a variety of roles within the defense, playing everywhere from stand-up rush end to nose tackle, so he has a remarkable level of versatility leaving high school. The experience playing against guards, centers, and tackles should only help the 6’5 product transition to the next level.

There aren’t many players with the athleticism of Tatum at almost 270 pounds — the first clip of his junior highlight tape shows him running the arc against an opposing offensive tackle while showing good hip flexibility to turn the corner.

Within the first 90 seconds of the video, Tatum comes off the ball so quickly the tackles whiff on him almost completely on several more occasions.

A first step that helped him run a verified 4.55 shuttle at a recent Nike event gives Tatum a huge advantage over most players his size, whether at the high school or college levels.

When putting that testing time into context, consider that the top performer at those Nike events in the short shuttle was from a 235-pounder who ran a 4.20 — Tatum has good athleticism for his size and should continue to improve in that regard once he gets into college.

At the high school level, Tatum has enough understanding of hand placement and enough natural strength to overwhelm most opponents as soon as he identifies the direction of the play.

Throw in motor as an important asset and Tatum continues to check all the boxes, especially as a backside pursuit player when opponents attempt to run away from him.

Because Tatum also possesses the off-field intangibles that college coaches desire in top prospects, it’s not surprising that his coach points to his star player’s “pride and ownership” in his efforts against the run.

At almost 270 pounds, there’s even a possibility that Tatum could develop into a nose tackle at the college level if he keeps on gaining weight.

However, based on head coach Tom Herman’s attempts throughout winter conditioning and spring practice to keep his defensive linemen lean — especially at the defensive tackle position — expect strength and conditioning coach Yancy McKnight to try to preserve the lean athleticism that makes Tatum such an intriguing prospect at his size.

Still, it’s fair to say that there’s no position in the defensive front, from nose tackle on out to the B-backer position that closely mirrors Charlie Strong’s Fox position, that Tatum doesn’t project favorably at in college depending on his physical development.

Right now, Tatum needs to improve the strength in his legs to play closer to the ball than the coaches are selling him on playing, but that’s a concern that Tatum can largely mitigate because of his work ethic and frame.

With two quarterbacks currently committed in the class, Tatum is arguably the most important pledge so far for Tom Herman in the 2018 class, a belief reinforced by the fact that he’s the highest-rated player in the group.

Because there’s such a need for a talented swing player on the roster, it would be difficult to overstate the importance of landing the Sooner State product, especially since respected evaluators like Jeff Howe of 247Sports believe that Tatum will only rise in the rankings as National Signing Day 2018 approaches.

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Publicado por Burnt Orange Nation em Segunda, 24 de abril de 2017