One Thing the Top 10 Commits Do Better Than the Current Starter
High school football and college football are two different animals and almost two different sports. Making the jump from the preps to the collegiate ranks is very tough; the speed of the game is the most challenging obstacle.
However, each year we get a handful of prospects who prove to be quick learners of the playbook as well as having the speed and/or size to play college football as a teenager. Those prospects all bring special traits of their own to their respective positions that maybe the incumbent starter doesn't have.
This read will just quickly look at one trait or skill each top 10 committed prospect in the class of 2013 has that is superior to the current starter at their committed school.
10. Darius James, OC
Current Starter: Dominic Espinosa
Espinosa is the current starter at center for the Longhorns. He is a solid pivot player but the 6'5', 320 pound James is a bigger bodied blocker that has superior athleticism. James is so athletic that I believe he could get a look at left tackle.
9. Christian Hackenberg, QB
Commitment: Penn State
Current Starter: Matt McGloin
McGloin is more of a game manager to me. He doesn't have the skill set to go win PSU a football game or make dynamic plays. Yet, he's been pretty solid this 2012 season.
Hackenberg, on the other hand, has exceptional arm talent. He is a 6'3', 215 pound signal caller that can take over a game with his quick release, accuracy and big time arm strength.
8. Jaylon Smith, OLB
Commitment: Notre Dame
Current Starter: Prince Shembo
Shembo is part of an excellent Notre Dame defense. He has great size, strength and plays fast. I'm sure he's starting for a good reason, but he doesn't have the natural cover skills that Jaylon Smith does.
The 6'3", 225 pound Smith is so athletic and covers so well in the passing game that he could actually be a DB stuck in a LB's body.
7. Su'a Cravens, S
Current Starter: Jawanza Starling
Starling hasn't been as much of an impact defender as I thought he would be coming out of high school in Florida. He's solid, but I think Cravens offers much more dynamic play than Starling does.
At 6'1", 205 pounds, Cravens is a fantastic athlete who also has better football instincts than Starling. You can play Cravens on all three levels of the defense and watch him impact the game.
6. Kenny Bigelow, DT
Current Starter: George Uko
Bigelow is already bigger than Uko at 297 pounds to Uko's listed 285 pounds. I also believe the 6'3" Bigelow has more versatility due to his better snap quickness. Bigelow is also a better athlete and while I think he fits best at the 3-technique, he could play some strong side DE too.
5. Carl Lawson, DE
Current Starter: Dee Ford
Both Ford and Lawson stand 6'2', but Lawson weighs close to 255 pounds while Ford is just over 245. What Lawson does better than Ford is anchor vs. the run. I think in the long term, Lawson will be the stronger player who becomes more than just a speed rusher.
4. Max Browne, QB
Current Starter: Matt Barkley
I measured Matt Barkley at the Stanford NIKE Camp during the spring before his senior season and he was just a hair under 6'2". Browne is already 6'5" and has better size than Barkley does, even though Barkley was almost 230 pounds in high school.
I also believe that Browne has a quicker release than Barkley does.
3. Vernon Hargreaves III, CB
Current Starter: Marcus Roberson
I went with Roberson for this piece as I think he's the top athlete and cover guy for the Gator secondary. A big time prospect coming out of high school, Roberson has been good for UF thus far.
He's a bit bigger than Hargreaves, who's about 5'10" while Roberson is in the 6'0' range. Yet, I think Hargreaves plays with a bit better technique and discipline than Roberson does.
2. Reuben Foster, LB
Current Starter: Jake Holland
Foster is the type of linebacker that you may only get once every 10 years, if that. He is a 6'2" 245 pound 'backer with athleticism, strength, instincts, power and speed. Holland is no slouch, as starting at the Mike spot in the SEC is tough, but Foster is just special.
1. Robert Nekmdiche, DE
Current Starter: Malliciah Goodman
Goodman has similar size to the 6'5", 270 pound Nkemdiche and could even be bigger than the nation's No. 1 prospect. I just think he lacks Nkemdiche's raw power and strength, plus he's just not the special talent Nkemdiche is. Goodman plays with better technique, but Nkemdiche is the better and stronger athlete.
Edwin Weathersby has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns and the Las Vegas Gladiators of the Arena League. He spent a year evaluating prep prospects & writing specific recruiting and scouting content articles for Student Sports Football (now ESPN Rise-HS). A syndicated scout and writer, he's also contributed to WeAreSC.com, GatorBait.net and Diamonds in the Rough Inc., a College Football and NFL Draft magazine.