2014 College Football Recruits Not Getting the Buzz They Deserve
Each recruiting cycle features several hundred high school football players. Publications tend to focus on the high-profile recruits who are ranked higher on their boards. This practice leads to many good prospects being overlooked during a recruiting cycle.
Prospects who have high rankings will continue to generate much buzz in recruiting. However, college football is full of great players who didn't get attention in high school. Heisman winner Johnny Manziel was not a household name as an incoming recruit, and Marqise Lee was not the headliner of his class when he signed with USC.
Several prospects in the 2014 class deserve more recognition than they have received. An offensive lineman headed to a Big Ten program could be a great left tackle. Kansas has a commitment from an underrated running back prospect, and Cal may have a diamond in the rough.
Craig Evans, DT
Wisconsin is under new leadership, with Gary Andersen now the head coach of the Badgers. Anderson is switching the program's defense to a 3-4 alignment according to Jesse Temple of Fox Sports Wisconsin.
The key to having a successful 3-4 defense is having a great nose tackle. Craig Evans is a Badger commit who flashes the potential to be a great nose tackle. Evans, who is 6'3" and 305 pounds, has good snap quickness. He's a handful for centers. He requires constant double-teams, is a natural space-eater and makes a mess in the middle.
When Wisconsin is known for its stingy 3-4 defense in a few seasons, one of the reasons will be a little-known nose tackle prospect it signed in its 2014 recruiting class.
Nick Wilson, RB
Nick Wilson is a running back from California who has a good blend of speed and power. He rushed for 1,600 yards and 16 TDs as a junior. He is committed to Arizona.
Wilson, who is 5'11" and 196 pounds, has good vision and instincts. He has the quickness to reach backside holes, exploits creases and challenges linebackers at the point of attack. Wilson has the quickness to jump to the edges, flashes good elusiveness and can skate to the end zone in the open field.
Arizona runs a version of the spread-option offense under Rich Rodriguez, who will use Wilson on inside and outside zone-running plays in Tucson.
Dallis Todd, WR
Dallis Todd is one of the most intriguing players to watch in the 2014 class. At first glance, he appears to be a tall possession receiver. However, Todd has good speed.
Todd, who is 6'5" and 210 pounds, is No. 161 in the 247Sports composite rankings, which is too low for such a talented player. He has solid release quickness, and he can separate from coverage at junction points. He displays the ability to get on top of a defense, snatch balls over defenders and race to the end zone.
Todd, who is committed to Oklahoma, could reach the 225-pound mark in Norman, but he is a true wide receiver. He is an underrated talent who should have bigger buzz.
Jackson Barton, OT
Jackson Barton receives so little attention that his profile does not have a picture at 247Sports. Not many recruiting stories have been written about him.
However, Barton, who is 6'6" and 260 pounds, should be shining in the spotlight. The Utah commit has the potential to develop into an All-Pac-12 right tackle. Barton has solid snap quickness, refuses to be beaten around the edge of the pocket and flashes a strong punch as a pass-protector.
Barton bends well at the knees and plays with adequate agility. Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham is getting a good player.
Tyler Harris, QB
Most high school quarterbacks do not have good mechanics. At this stage, observers want to see if they have the physical tools to play at a high level if properly coached.
Tyler Harris, who is 6'3" and 205 pounds, has a strong arm. He just needs to refine his mechanics. Harris can scan the field, work through his progressions and fire a strike with velocity. He is capable of routinely attacking a defense deep.
Harris' lack of solid footwork needs to be addressed, but he is a better prospect than given credit for. If he lands with the right coach, Harris could be outstanding in college.
Koa Farmer, S
Versatile players are critical for a football team, especially on defense. Koa Farmer has the ability to play strong safety, free safety, rover and outside linebacker.
Farmer, who is 6'1" and 200 pounds, has solid speed and instincts. He sees the field well when he is on top of the defense. He has adequate transition quickness and great ball skills. Farmer has the athletic potential to develop into a great defender in man-to-man coverage versus tight ends. He can slide down to outside linebacker in nickel packages, creating even more flexibility for a defense.
Farmer—who is headed to Cal—should be ranked higher than No. 499 on the 247Sports composite board.
Jaden Gault, OT
Jaden Gault should be considered one of the best 100 players in the country. However, he is ranked 135th by 247Sports on its composite rankings.
Gault has a chance to develop into an All-Big Ten left tackle at Wisconsin.
The 6'7", 285-pounder has great initial quickness and technique. Gault can fire back out of his stance and mirror rushers. He has a powerful punch. He slides well when he is engaged with an opponent, and he is aware of twists, stunts and delayed blitzes.
Gault is a strong run-blocker who can clear alleys with force. He flashes pull/trap ability, as he can maneuver out of his stance and get on linebackers in a flash.
Gault deserves more attention than he has received.
Traevohn Wrench, RB
Kansas is getting a steal in running back Traevohn Wrench. He is a good prospect who will create a buzz for himself as a Jayhawk.
Wrench, who is 6'0" and 180 pounds, has deceptive power and strength. He flashes the ability to break tackles, can challenge defenders at the point of attack and will push a pile or two. Wrench has no issues with cutting and eluding defenders.
He has solid instincts and good vision. He can jump to the edges if interior alleys are too crowded. Wrench has solid speed and is a good weapon as a receiver out of the backfield.
Charlie Weis is going to have fun coaching Wrench at Kansas.