As I type this it is May 20th. The Freshman football class of 2010 will begin arriving on campus in 5 or 6 weeks for the summer conditioning program. Because this blog was merely an idea in my head at the time of signing day I have not given an opinion on the 2010 class. Not that my opinion is really going to weigh very heavily in your mind but what the hell. I will start with a breakdown of the big skill players. I define big skill players as linebackers, defensive ends, and tight ends.
Robert Martin - LB - 6'1" 230 - Yuma, Arizona - Arizona Western - 40 N/A
Scout - N/A
Rivals - N/A
Robert Martin was a late addition to this class. He did not have any other BCS offers that I am aware of. He played his JUCO ball in Arizona which has a lower level of competition than California, Texas, Kansas or Mississippi which have the highest level of competition and traditionally produce the best JUCO players. The Rivals JUCO top 50 is made up almost entirely of players from those 4 states. That being said Martin is defiantly a BCS level athlete, I am not sure that he is a BCS level player though. He makes plays, but there is a right way and a wrong way to make plays. The right way is by being smart, reading your keys and anticipating plays. The wrong way is to attempt to beat blocking schemes just by being more athletic than the guys trying to block you. Martin does the former more often than the latter. He won't be able to get away with that in Clifton though. I get the impression that he has been playing the game for four years or less. I think the primary reason he got a UC offer was the staffs connection to Pike High School in Indy where he went to high school and the need for a LB after Preston Brown decamped for Louisville late in the process. I think he can be a solid contributor at a later date, but he is too raw right now.
Corey Mason - LB - 6'3" 220 - Cincinnati - Elder - 40; 4.7
Mason is a solid division 1A player who had an offer on the table to go to Kent State but chose to come to UC as a preferred walk on. Mason is almost the flip side of the Robert Martin card. Not a tremendous athlete, but very well school, a smart Football player who has benefited from good coaching at Elder. In a lot of ways he reminds me of Kevin McCullough. He doesn't have an abundance of physical gifts, but he maximizes all that he has and produces. I expect Mason to earn a scholarship by the time he is a Junior. He is an example of the upward trend in quality of walk-ons UC has had the past few years.
Solomon Tentman - LB - 6'2" 230 - Cincinnati - Roger Bacon - 40; 4.6
Tentman is the best bet for the question which freshman has the best chance to make an impact on defense. He has just about everything you could want from a middle linebacker. Good instincts, outstanding short area quickness, he is a hard hitter if not always a fundamentally sound one. He closes very well on ball carriers and has the rare gift of being able to play well in space and in traffic. As an added bonus he has shown good ability playing with his hand in the dirt. I think that middle linebacker is his natural position, but with JK Schaffer having that spot on lock for the next two years I would expect Tentman to change positions once practice starts, most likely to OLB but I could very easily see him becoming a full time DE. He has to frame to add the requisite 20 or 30 pounds it would take.
Brad Harrah - TE - 6'7" 240 - Marion, Ohio - Pleasant - 40; 4.7
Harrah is a difficult prospect to place. He has the size that is prototypical for a college tight end, 6'4" plus around 240 pounds. The problem is most TE's need a couple of years in the weight room to hit those numbers, Harrah is starting from them. He can play any number of positions at the college level offensive tackle, defensive tackle, tight end/H-Back he can play all of them. Its just hard to predict which of them he will land at. If I had to pick a spot for him it would be at offensive tackle because he has the frame for it and was a dominate inline blocker for the Spartans ground based attack. I think he will be Sean Hooey 2.0. Hooey came in with similar proportions out of Michigan took a gray and red shirt year and is the probable backup at LT this fall. I don't think Harrah takes the gray shirt year but will wind up at tackle. No youtube, but video is available here.
Eric Lefeld - DE - 6'7" 230 - Coldwater, Ohio - Coldwater - 40; N/A
LeFeld is one of several athletes in this class measuring over 6'4" 220 pounds. But it is a little bit easier to place him. I think that Lefeld is a defensive line player all the way. Either at defensive end or at defensive tackle. I think that defensive tackle is where he will wind up because he lacks the long arms or explosiveness required of big time defensive ends at the college level. He can be a very productive one gap defensive tackle though. He is extremely powerful in the lower body and plays with better than expected leverage and pad level given his height. Played a good state championship game against Youngstown Ursuline in a losing effort. Video here.
Josh Russ - DE - 6'5" 220 - Elyria, Ohio - Elyria Catholic - 40; N/A
Russ is a defensive end all the way. In high school was the rare defensive end, wide receiver two way play. Very explosive off the ball, has long arms, reads and diagnoses plays very well. He has a shockingly high athletic acumen. His years playing WR serve him well because he has great body control in pass rushing situations. He rarely gets knocked off course when he drops his hips to turn the corner on a tackle. Does not have a deep assortment of pass rush moves, he relies primarily on the swim move and the speed rush to get the job done. It wasn't an issue for him in high school, but it is something he needs to work on. There is video on youtube, but it is from his Sophomore year and shows him repeatedly destroying my alma mater so I reticent to embed it. I will direct you here instead.
Camaron Beard - DE - 6'6" 235 - Indianapolis, Indiana - Cathedral High School - 40; 4.7
Camaron Beard is something of a rarity for UC Football. He is a recruit that looks like he is built to do little else but rush the passer. He is tall, posses a great build, has a quick first step, long arms and outstanding short area quickness. UC has had plenty of pass rushing standouts over the last few years. Trent Cole, Antwan Peek, Andre Frazier, Anthony Hoke, Angelo Craig and Connor Barwin all were pass rushing terrors. However with the exception Barwin and Craig none of them were built to be pass rushers. Rather they made themselves sack artists through sheer determination and will. Beard falls into the category with Connor and Craig as born pass rushers. He is still raw, his technique is not great and doesn't have a go to rush move. But his instincts are outstanding and when he flashes on a play he makes it. Between Beard and Russ the defensive end position looks to be in great hands going forward.
One quick note. If you look at the commitment lists for 2010 from scout and rivals you will see Cory Keebler out of Lakota East High School. I have not included in my breakdown of the big skill recruits. The reason for this is that he is going to take a gray shirt this year. That means that he will go through fall camp with the team but he will not enroll in the fall. He will delay his enrollment until January and will therefore be included in the 2011 class.