Naijiel Hale to Arizona: Wildcats Land 4-Star CB Prospect
Arizona has landed 4-star cornerback Naijiel Hale, according to Arizona Daily Star reporter Daniel Berk:
Hale, the No. 23 cornerback in the 2014 class according to 247Sports.com's composite rankings, received offers during the recruiting process spanning from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten, with Nebraska being one of the most prominent suitors.
The 5'11", 175-pounder is the son of the late rapper Nathaniel Hale (aka Nate Dogg) and went to St. John Bosco High School (Bellflower, Calif.). He joins joins several high-profile recruits from the school in this year's class, including guard Damien Mama.
Hale isn't going to light up testing, but his quick burst and physicality make him play bigger and faster than he really is. If he had better overall speed and strength, he would be a premier corner in the class.
Hale is also a smart player who knows how to use leverage and get himself to the right spots on the field. In zone coverage, he's displayed a strong ability to read the quarterback's eyes and jump routes. In fact, anticipating and jumping routes may be his most impressive qualities, allowing him to rack up interceptions. He notched 50 tackles and four interceptions as a junior at St. John Bosco in 2012, per Rivals.com.
The young cornerback is also a fluid defender, which makes up for his lack of elite speed. He can transition quickly in and out of breaks. He also possesses the tenacity and ball skills to knock down jump balls.
There are some concerns that Hale's lack of size will make it difficult for him at the next level, particularly in run support, but he has shown the aggressiveness and tackling skills to perhaps surprise in college.
All said, plopping Hale in a zone makes a lot of sense. He could be a high-impact contributor in that scenario.
The biggest thing is covering up Hale's weaknesses and utilizing his strengths in the right way.
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