25 Most Physical College Football Recruits from 2014 Class
Football is a physical sport, and the more physical a player is, the more his chances of success on the field increase.
Some players prefer to finesse their way around the field, and that can work to their advantage if done right.
Yet this game is about physicality—and the player who relishes contact, plays big at the point of attack, has good strength and the power to dominate his opponent will earn high marks from observers.
This read will be an early look at the 25 most physical recruits in the 2014 class.
Whether be it a running back who runs hard and finishes with a pop on defenders or a linebacker who likes to take on lead blockers, shed and tackle with authority, physicality is always welcomed on the football field.
Here are the top 25 bruisers in the 2014 class.
25. Nathan Starks, RB
Starks rushed for over 1,800 yards as a junior in Las Vegas, thanks to a no-nonsense running style.
He's a 5'11', 200-pound running back who can attack a run alley with quickness, toughness and power.
He's a bully with the ball, and he challenges defenders who dare to try and tackle him. He'll use solid leg power to carry defenders and gets a lot of yards after contact.
24. Tre' Williams, LB
Tre Williams, from Alabama, stands 6'2" and weighs just about 220 pounds. He clearly understands that being a linebacker means you have to be tough and physical.
Williams will insert himself in a run alley, play big when he takes on blockers and also has good range. I expect him to end up at Alabama or Auburn.
23. Bentley Spain, OT
There may be more athletic OL prospects out there than Bentley Spain, but few are more physical.
The 6'6", 275-pounder is from North Carolina and is a classic lunch-pail blocker.
Spain works hard at each snap, hustles and is a grown man at the point of attack. He can fight power-rushers and likes to finish on top of targets as a run-blocker.
22. Sony Michel, RB
Sony Michel is a pretty physical runner who also has a good amount of speed and wiggle in his running style. He's a Florida rock-toter who stands 5'11" and weighs 205 pounds.
When he wants to let a defense know that they're in for a long night, Michel can display strength and power while slicing up a front seven.
He'll flash some tackle-breaking ability and is physical enough to be his own blocker at times.
21. Mason Cole, OG
Another Florida prospect, Cole is not going to spend too much time messing around on the field.
The 6'4", 285-pound guard is a fighter who can play physical in the interior offensive front.
Cole has solid short-area quickness, but he may be even better in a phone booth. A tough and stout blocker, Cole has solid anchor strength and won't be shying away from contact anytime soon.
20. Khairi Clark, DT
Khairi Clark is already bigger than Kelsey Griffin at this point, as the DT from the Sunshine State is 6'2" and 325 pounds as a high school junior.
Clark is a physical DT who is a natural space-eater in the middle of the defensive line. He shows good strength, enough to sit and anchor vs. any OL.
19. Tyler Luatua, TE
Tyler Luatua is a seam player who is 6'4" and 230 pounds. He's from Southern California, and his impact is mainly felt in the passing game—at least for now.
He's tough guy who can be a bully with the ball after the catch. The most powerful TE after the catch I've seen over the past few years was Nick O'Leary, and Luatua has a chance to be that type of TE.
He's also physical as a blocker and can help get a hat on DEs and LBs in the running game.
18. Elisha Shaw, DT
Elisha Shaw has the skill set of a young future five-technique DL in a 3-4 scheme. He can work as a read-and-react defender due to his ability to quickly latch on and stack up a blocker.
From Georgia, Shaw is pretty strong at the point of attack and seems to love playing in the defensive trenches.
Watch out for Alabama during his recruitment.
17. Damien Mama, OG
Damien Mama is a 6'5'', 340-pound OG prospect from Southern California who catches your eye immediately due to his size.
He comes off the ball well at the snap and can really get into a defender's body.
Mama has good grab strength, can be a short-area mauler as a run-blocker and is quick to end the rush when a defender slips up.
16. Lorenzo Carter, DE/OLB
Lorenzo Carter is already 6'6" and over 230 pounds right now, so the Georgia native could be 250 pounds as a college freshman.
Carter's a great athlete and could easily be a stand-up OLB in a 3-4 scheme. He can play physical at the point of attack and will make a big hit when he has a ball-carrier squared up.
He's one of the top overall prospects in the 2014 class.
15. Cameron Robinson, OT
The nation's top OT prospect isn't a finesse guy, as 6'6" Cameron Robinson is a 330-pounder who can put people on their backs.
Robinson has a little more strength than Laremy Tunsil and is a thicker prospect. He'll roll up on targets at the point of attack, has good power and can finish well.
I also see good anchor strength from Robinson as a pass-blocker.
14. Nyles Morgan, LB
A smart linebacker, Nyles Morgan is from Illinois and really has good instincts. He reminds me a little bit of Daniel McMillan, who signed with Florida earlier this month.
Morgan is a 6'2", 228-pounder who can shoot gaps, fills quickly and can tackle with good force. He doesn't back down from OLs coming at him on the second level and plays with good strength.
13. Tony Brown, DB
It may be a little surprising to see a DB on a list like this, but Tony Brown is very physical, regardless of position.
He's a 6'0", 185-pound cover man who absolutely loves press coverage. From Texas, Brown is quick to jam receivers at the line and refuses to be out-muscled for balls.
He's hard to beat inside and will come up to hit a running back in run support.
12. Clifton Garrett, LB
At 6'2" and just about 230 pounds, Clifton Garrett has the frame of a college junior right now.
He just looks like a grown man physically, and he's a physical linebacker.
Garrett moves a lot better than I expected, and he's quick. He steps up to fill quickly, has range and is a pretty big hitter.
Garrett's not just one of the most physical defenders in the country, but one of the best overall.
11. Jalen Hurd, RB
From Tennessee, Jalen Hurd is a huge RB at 6'3" and 225 pounds. He runs as his size would dictate, as Hurd is a very physical running back and gets tough yards after contact.
Hurd knows his size and strength are his best assets and uses them to his advantage.
He'll mix it up between the tackles and drag linebackers for a few yards, and he almost laughs at defensive backs trying to stop him with a head of steam in the open field.
10. Solomon Thomas, DE
Thomas is a 6'3", 251-pound DE from Texas who can really set the edge. He's a classic strong-side DE prospect with good hand quickness and upper-body strength.
Thomas can stack OTs and TEs, hold his ground with a stout anchor and toss blockers aside to clear himself to make tackles against running plays.
Converting speed to power is one of his top pass-rushing moves, and he has good bull-rush power.
9. Hoza Scott, LB
Hoza Scott is one of the biggest hitters in the country, like a cross between Kwon Alexander and Deoundrei Davis. He's 6'2", 220 pounds and has great speed and range.
The Texas A&M commit can sift through traffic quickly, track a ball-carrier with good vision and meet him with great force upon contact.
He just seems to try to punish people when tackling them, and he has a lot of athleticism as well as physicality in his game.
8. Raekwon McMillan, LB
Raekwon McMillan is a big 'backer from Georgia who already stands 6'3" and weighs close to 240 pounds. He's got good movement skills and really attacks the line of scrimmage when he reads the run.
McMillan can take on guards inside the box, shed them and be physical at the point of attack.
He's a productive tackler who is not afraid of contact, and his strength will only improve in college.
7. Gerald Owens, RB/ATH
Gerald Owens is a 6'2", 240-pounder who could play RB in college. His size, power, drive and strength all allow him to bully defenses and intimidate tacklers.
Owens has good straight-line speed and can be a load to bring down. The physicality he displays when he has the ball is neat to see, and he rarely is tackled by a single defender.
6. Leonard Fournette, RB
Leonard Fournette is blessed with great speed and explosiveness on a 6'1", 225-pound frame. He's got excellent instincts, vision, quickness and awareness, too.
Plus, Fournette can also really help out in the passing game.
But this list is about being physical, and Fournette can run physically, too. He's got all of the needed power, strength and tackle-breaking ability to be a very productive college RB right now.
5. Malik McDowell, DL
Malik McDowell is 6'7" and weighs 290 pounds—and he's explosive at the snap. He also has very good play strength, is a stout run-defender and really plays powerfully at the point of attack.
His size is already intimidating to people, but combine that with his snap quickness and athleticism, and you have a top-notch prospect.
McDowell is physical enough to play DT in any scheme, and he can also two-gap if asked.
4. Dillon Bates, LB
Dillon Bates reads the play, finds the ball, runs to it and hits whoever has it as hard as he can. That's basically the gist of it for the 6'3", 218-pounder from Florida.
I like his instincts and awareness, but Bates' physicality is always apparent. He won't back down from anyone, loves contact and is at his best at the point of attack.
He plays with a big motor that helps him stay physical all game long.
3. Braden Smith, OL
From Kansas, Braden Smith is a physical 6'6", 282-pound OL prospect. He's very strong and really beats people up when he's sustained and engaged.
Smith has heavy hands, a strong punch and is physical at the point of attack. He'll short-set a rusher as a pass-protector and basically turn the down into a run-blocking situation, which allows him to be physical on passing plays.
2. Da'Shawn Hand, DE
Da'Shawn Hand is the top player in the country, and one reason why is because he's very physical.
In fact, the 6'5", 247-pounder from Virginia is so physical that he can play DT on sub-packages.
Hand is very strong, explosive and quick. He isn't afraid of power blockers, can set the edge to stall running plays, sheds blocks and can hit with power.
Being physical is just one of his elite traits.
1. Andrew Brown, DT
Andrew Brown is not just physical, he's downright violent. From Virginia, Brown is a 6'4" DT prospect who weighs 292 pounds.
He's extremely quick at the snap and strong on his feet, displaying outstanding power. Brown can walk a blocker back into the backfield and uses his hands in a fantastic fashion.
He can push and pull, swim, bull-rush, punch and rip, club, spin and convert speed to power, among other moves.
He's the most physical recruit for 2014.
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.