2014 College Football Recruits with Best Field Vision
College coaches not only want fast football players; they want guys who can see the entire field and play with awareness no matter where they are on the field. Prospects who do not play with a good sense of their surroundings and can't find the football will have a tougher time being successful college players.
A quarterback must be able to scan the entire field and work through his progressions. A running back must be able to see holes develop on the backside and secondary holes above the line of scrimmage. Safeties must show field vision by recognizing routes and route combinations to quickly defend passes.
Many recruits have exhibited good field vision and several have proven to be exceptional in this category. A running back in Florida has outstanding vision, while a defensive back in Virginia plays with terrific awareness and instincts on the back end. Several quarterbacks also have displayed impressive traits in this area.
Jabrill Peppers, ATH
Peppers, who is committed to Michigan, is one of the most instinctive players in this class. He will play defensive back in Ann Arbor, but thanks to great field vision, he could be a good running back, receiver or linebacker.
Peppers, as an offensive player, has natural instincts with the ball. He is always aware of his surroundings, keeps mental tabs on where incoming defenders are and has a great feel for getting to defensive voids.
On defense, Peppers can cover a receiver, pin his man to the sideline downfield and has the ball awareness to swing his head back and find the football. He shows great field vision as a safety by quickly squeezing the line of scrimmage against the run and finding the football without wasted movement.
Deshaun Watson, QB
Watson, who is committed to Clemson, is one of the most decisive quarterbacks one can find on the recruiting trail. He quickly drives away from center and by the time he gets to the top of his drop, more often than not Watson has already made up his mind on where he is throwing the ball.
Watson can limit himself at times because he will settle for short passes too quickly instead of being patient and allowing a deep route to develop. However, he has sound field vision and has flashed the ability to work through his reads before deciding on where to throw.
Watson, who is 6'3", has the potential to be a quarterback who runs a full-field read passing attack.
Leonard Fournette, RB
Fournette is not just a big and strong running back who slams into front sevens without knowing where he's going. He reads defensive fronts during the quarterback's cadence, keeps his eyes downfield to read the flow of the linebackers while taking handoffs and sees all available holes.
Fournette has no issues seeing cutback and backside holes, which is another sign of excellent vision. He is not satisfied by just getting to alleys. This is a running back who possesses great second-level vision to exploit defenses.
Fournette will be one of the best college players in the country one day not only due to his physical skills; his vision and instincts will also be keys to his success.
Marlon Humphrey, CB
Humphrey, who is expected to land at Alabama, is a cornerback who has fantastic anticipation. He could almost play blindfolded as he is an intelligent player with a natural feel for the position.
Humphrey enjoys sitting in off-man and zone coverage, keeping his eyes on his man and peripheral vision on the quarterback. At the snap, he uses his great field vision to read his man and the quarterback's drop.
Humphrey can easily see the quarterback take a quick drop and match it up with his man's footwork. He quickly processes that as a slant or hitch and uses his loose hips and transition quickness to jump the passing lane to make a play on the ball.
Chryst, who recently committed to Stanford, has great field vision at the quarterback position. His father, Geep, runs the quarterback room for the San Francisco 49ers and has schooled his son well.
Chryst understands how to drop back with consistent mechanics, quickly read his hot defenders, adjust to coverages after the snap, work through progressions and make good decisions. It is tough to do this each snap as a prep passer, but Chryst appears to be on the right track.
Chryst, who is 6'3" and 215 pounds, will not make many mistakes reading coverages. And if he gets fooled by something, he will not let it happen twice.
Zach Whitley, LB
Whitley, an Alabama pledge, is a future starter for Nick Saban at inside linebacker. He displays great ball location skills and field vision and is unfazed by misdirection plays.
Most high school linebackers fly to the side of the field where they initially see the quarterback turn to. They easily run themselves out of plays, fall for play action often and can be manipulated by a slick ball-handling quarterback.
Whitley is a minority, as reverses, play action, traps, counters and other misdirection plays do not fool him. He quickly finds the ball at the snap, instinctively picks where he wants to attack with quickness and gets a jump on plays by consistently reading his keys quickly, but with patience.
Kyle Allen, QB
Allen, who is currently impressing observers at the Elite 11 Finals, is a quarterback whose game is based on anticipation.
Quarterbacks cannot just anticipate every window will open up; they have to know which window will open and exactly where. This part of playing quarterback is where Allen excels, as he sees the field well and throws to receivers before they get away from the junction points in their routes.
Allen, who is 6'3" and 185 pounds, can throw a receiver open by accurately leading them away from defenders he sees whom his target does not. He firmly belongs on any list based on field vision.
Quin Blanding, S
Blanding, a Virginia commit, is a headache for quarterbacks. Passers are taught they can manipulate safeties with their eyes by looking them off to clear space to complete deep passes.
However, Blanding does not get looked off easily and is rarely fooled by quarterbacks thanks to his field vision. ACC passers are in store for a grueling mental battle when Blanding arrives in Charlottesville.
Blanding, who is 6'2" and 200 pounds, can sit deep, identify all possible receiving threats, quickly recognize who is threatening him after the snap and still see where the quarterback is looking.
He has 15 career interceptions thanks to him using his field vision to read the eyes of quarterbacks, recognize routes and get a jump on passing lanes.
Sony Michel, RB
Michel, who is committed to Georgia, is an excellent running back prospect with tremendous vision. He is an instinctive runner who sees things a step faster than many other players at his position.
Michel, who is 5'11" and 205 pounds, breaks the huddle, surveys the defensive front looking for possible holes, does not panic when defenses shift and keeps a mental tab on where linebackers are as he receives the ball from the quarterback on running plays
He has the vision to quickly get to backside holes, cutback lanes and is very effective on zone running plays. His vision is impressive for a young running back prospect, and it is exciting to ponder just how much this part of his game will grow with college coaching in Athens.