2014 Recruits Who Are College Ready Right Now
Football is an extremely physical sport, and players who play the game have to relish contact. Toughness is a key characteristic of all football players at any position on the field. Being physically developed is also another key aspect to being a good player, which is why a heavy emphasis is always put on strength and conditioning programs in football.
In recruiting, some players develop physically faster than their peers, and this helps them get on field quicker in college. Other recruits may need a year to redshirt to add more bulk, body mass and strength to help their bodies prepare for wear and tear of college football.
The recruits that are physically ready are impressive on the hoof, but out of that group the recruits who also show they are mentally ready for college football really separate themselves from the pack.
This piece will look at a few recruits in 2014 who could be ready for college ball right off the bat.
Juju Smith, S/WR
Smith is an athletically gifted player as both a safety or at WR. He's 6'1" and is already 200 pounds. He has the body and frame of a college player right and can run with anyone at his position.
Smith shows fluid movement skills in space, quickness to get out of his breaks and transition along with the strength to player position he currently is a prospect at.
He could be an early contributor in college.
Sony Michel, RB
Michel is already 5'11" and weighs over 200 pounds. He has the running style to pound inside and gut a defense with power and strength, along with the quickness to get to the edges.
The Florida native runs awfully hard when he gets in his basket and attacks defenders. He can elude when he wants. I just think Michel could be positioning himself to be an immediate impact guy in college.
Lorenzo Carter, DE/OLB
Carter has incredible athleticism on a frame that is already 6'6" and 232 pounds. From Georgia, he shows a quick first step, strength to set the edge vs. the run and speed to close out on ball carriers.
Of course, like many high school pass rushers, Carter needs to learn some more pass rushing moves and hone his technique. Yet, he has the frame, athleticism and skill set to help a program out as a sub-package rusher right now.
Quin Blanding, S
At 6'2" and close to 200 pounds, Blanding may be the best FS prospect in the nation for 2014. He's a vocal leader and the real deal on the back end.
Blanding is from Virginia and has the range, speed, athleticism, instincts, route recognition skills and field awareness to get some early playing time in college. He's got a great work ethic, plays smart and also is an aid in run support.
He is a little more physical than Max Redfield was at this point.
Jabrill Peppers, DB/ATH
Peppers is a guy who I'd want on my team and reminds me a little bit of Su'a Cravens. The New Jersey product has a 6'1", 210-pound frame, and that's not all to like.
Peppers is an instinctive, active and heady player who is always around the ball. From playing CB to S to RB or WR, you name it—Peppers can probably do it.
He's got the frame, strength and smarts to play college ball right now.
Andrew Brown, DT
Brown is a like a cross between Kenny Bigelow and Eddie Vanderdoes. He has Bigelow's quickness and Vanderdoes' strength.
The big 6'4", 285-pound Virginia native can toss blockers aside like leftovers or hold them up and anchor versus the run. He also is sharp at the snap, penetrates gaps quickly and can live in the backfield.
What makes Brown even more heralded is the fact that he's advanced in the hand usage department. He's got a variety of moves and uses his heavy mitts with quickness and violent intent.
Da'Shawn Hand, DE
Hand is the top player in the country this year and some observers hold him in higher regard than Robert Nkemdiche. The 6'5", 247-pound Hand is from Virginia and has outstanding natural athleticism to go with a college-ready frame.
Hand comes off the ball hard and quickly, recognizes blocking schemes well and has a great motor. He's strong on his feet, uses his hands well and fights to pressure with strength among other things.
I can easily see Hand starting at DE for a college team this fall instead of fall 2014.
Leonard Fournette, RB
Fournette is a special player and is said to be a very special guy too. He's known as a hard working leader who doesn't have an ego and takes care of business with honors in the classroom.
On the field, the 6'1", 225-pound RB is ready to start college football today. He has the frame, size and strength to be a bell-cow back at this moment.
Fournette also has the vision, instincts and natural feel on an elite runner. Lastly, he has excellent speed and hands. He's a complete back and is basically Kelvin Taylor meets Derrick Green.
Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He 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 and writing specific recruiting and scouting content articles for Student Sports Football (formerly 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.