10 2014 College Football Recruits Who Are Safe Bets
All recruits have questions regarding their skills, even 5-star prospects. However, some have fewer than others, as they have what is commonly called a "low floor." These recruits possess the skills to be solid players even if they do not reach their full potential.
Some college coaches prefer signing prospects with high ceilings, because if the player maxes out his talent, he projects to be a better player than the recruit with a lower floor. Yet, recruits with lower floors are the safer bets to have success in college.
When examining the 2014 class, a pair of quarterbacks have potential worst-case scenarios that aren't bad. Another prospect is so athletic that he essentially will have multiple chances before he is deemed a bust. And a defensive end recruit's talent screams "what you see is what you get" on tape.
Jaden Gault, OT
Jaden Gault is entering an ideal situation in Wisconsin, as the offensive tackle prospect will sign with a school known for developing excellent offensive linemen.
Gault, who is 6'7" and 285 pounds, has great strength and excels as a pass-protector. He flashes the ability to play left tackle in Madison, but even if Gault can't hold up at that position, his power will allow him to be a solid right tackle or guard. He has a tough demeanor, hustles and his work ethic is too great for him to be a bust.
At worst, Gault should be a solid offensive lineman for the Badgers.
Tony Brown, CB
It is tough to imagine Tony Brown not becoming a multi-year starter in college. The 6'0", 188-pound defensive back is too instinctive, athletic and fast not be a good player.
Even if Brown fails as a cornerback, there is no reason why he should not become a terrific safety. He has outstanding transition quickness, explodes in short areas and has great range. Brown also is not afraid to support the run and help out linebackers in the box.
Brown will be essentially playing with house money early in his college career, as he will know that if things don't work out on the perimeter, he still has what it takes to dominate the defensive seams.
Cameron Robinson, OT
Left tackle prospects can become busts, as Martin Coleman made little impact at USC and Seantrel Henderson has not played to his potential at Miami.
Cameron Robinson is a left tackle prospect in the 2014 class who should enjoy a better career than Coleman and Henderson. Robinson's clear understanding of how important knee-bend is at the tackle position this early in his career is an indicator that he's a safe bet.
Most high school offensive linemen bend at the waist, which is incorrect technique. Robinson actually plays almost in a crouching position, which, combined with his 6'5", 330-pound frame and athleticism, should make him a fine college tackle, at least.
Elisha Shaw, DL
Common observers make the constant mistake of judging defensive linemen on their ability to rush the passer and get sacks. It is a mistake to look at a player's sack numbers and base his talent off of his statistical production.
Elisha Shaw may never be a dominant pass-rusher, but he has too much upper body strength on a 6'4.5", 295-pound frame to not be able to become an adequate run defender.
Shaw also has the skills to play defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme or work as an end in a 3-4 defense. He's a versatile defensive lineman with great size and power, which is usually a recipe for success.
Jabrill Peppers, ATH
Jabrill Peppers should be nicknamed "The Cat" at Michigan, because he's going to have close to nine lives as a player. Peppers, who is 6'1" and 205 pounds, has fantastic versatility, athleticism and football intelligence.
He will likely begin his career as a cornerback, but if things go haywire on the perimeter, Peppers will have options. He could be a great safety, running back, receiver or even bulk up and move to outside linebacker.
So if Peppers somehow becomes a bust as a cover man, he and Brady Hoke will not panic, as he'll slide to another position and use one of his many lives.
Kyle Allen, QB
Although he doesn't have the hype of Jimmy Clausen, Kyle Allen stirs up a few memories of the former Notre Dame quarterback as a prep passer.
With Allen, what you see now is what you're gonna get at Texas A&M: a quarterback with adequate arm strength, who sees the field well, makes good decisions and plays within the system. Allen is not a gunslinger, nor will he impress anyone with a cannon for an arm or as a runner.
However, he is a safe bet as a quarterback because Allen is solid in every category at the position. The only thing that should keep him from starting one day for Kevin Sumlin is the Aggies' depth chart.
Sony Michel, RB
If the 2014 season ends without Sony Michel making a big impact, Georgia fans should not make a big fuss. Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley are outstanding talents, and they will force Michel to wait his turn.
However, when the 5'11", 205-pound running back gets his chance, he should be compared to USC running back Silas Redd—in a worst-case scenario. Michel actually has more talent that Redd does, as he is faster and more explosive.
His instincts, vision and ability to catch the football out of the backfield should give Michel too many assets to fail in Athens, even if he wanted to.
Da'Shawn Hand, DE
Although fellow 2014 defensive end prospect Lorenzo Carter has a higher ceiling than Da'Shawn Hand, the latter still projects to at least be a solid edge defender in college.
Hand has above-average explosiveness at the snap, can convert speed into power quickly, flashes the ability to fight with his hands and has good range. He is a tough player who can rush over guards as a sub-package defensive tackle at 6'4" and 254 pounds.
If Hand maxes out his talent, he could be a similar player to Baltimore Ravens linebacker/defensive end Terrell Suggs. But even if Hand doesn't reach that level, he still has too many solid physical traits not to be an adequate defensive end.
Leonard Fournette, RB
Leonard Fournette may be peaking physically right now, which is a good and bad thing.
On one hand, it means the 6'1", 226-pound running back is ready to play college football. On the other hand, it means he is not going to vastly improve from this point on as a player.
Fournette has everything a running back needs to be great. He displays quick feet, power, instincts, speed, vision, elusiveness and hands. He's a rare talent who would be one of the most shocking busts in recruiting history if he flamed out of college.
Keller Chryst, QB
Even if Keller Chryst does not become a quarterback who can take over games, he still has the skills to be a similar player to A.J. McCarron or Greg McElroy.
Chryst, who is 6'4" and 220 pounds, has limited flaws in his game. He has good arm strength, delivers an accurate ball, knows how to change speeds and works through his progressions. Chryst has terrific mechanics for a high school quarterback and just seems like a quarterback who won't be a bust.
He will be coached well at Stanford, which is another reason why he's the safest bet among 2014 quarterbacks.