2015 Defensive Recruits Who Will Be Household Names
Byron Cowart is the latest defensive star to emerge from Florida. (247Sports)
The 2015 high school football class boasts several outstanding performers on both sides of the ball. The race for their commitments is underway in recruiting departments across the country and there's a wealth of quality players to pursue on defense.
From front-line pass rushers to shutdown cornerbacks, premier 2015 talent is surfacing in every corner of the country. Some will become serviceable college starters, while others have the ability to emerge as stars who make routine appearances in SportsCenter highlights.
We put a few of those standout players in the cross hairs and examined what exactly makes them special. Whether they're bringing down a quarterback or striking a Heisman pose, here's a look at standout recruits destined to become household names.
B/R college football columnist Tyler Donohue spent three seasons with the Rutgers University football program's recruiting department, contributing to three classes (2007-09) under head coach Greg Schiano.
5-Star DE Shameik Blackshear (Bluffton, S.C.)
The South Carolina Gamecocks will soon say goodbye to Heisman hopeful and potential No. 1 NFL draft pick Jadeveon Clowney, an explosive defensive end who has people using the term "once in a generation" these days. Head coach Steve Spurrier ensured his squad has another defensive difference-maker on the way when he sealed a commitment from Shameik Blackshear, the top player in South Carolina's 2015 high school class, according to 247Sports composite rankings.
The 6'4", 235-pound Bluffton High School standout verbally committed to South Carolina in late May, opting to accept an offer in his home state. He considered scholarships from several schools, including Clemson, Florida, Florida State and Georgia, according to 247Sports.
Blackshear has an exceptional first step off the snap, slicing through defenders with an array of combo moves. If he can develop a consistent spin move it will make him even more of a dynamic disruptor in the offensive backfield.
What really stands out about Blackshear is his athleticism. Very much in the mold of former North Carolina star Julius Peppers, Blackshear is able to backpedal in pass coverage and can handle tight end matchups in close range.
He is a perfect fit at weak-side defensive end. Check out his sophomore highlight film to see why he's expected to make an instant impact at the next level.
3-Star CB Jalen Campbell (Corpus Christi, Texas)
Jalen Campbell became the third member of Texas' 2015 recruiting class when he committed to the Longhorns in March, per 247Sports. The cornerback hails from Flour Bluff High School and grew up rooting for his home state squad.
Campbell explained his loyalty to the Longhorns when making his decision to issue an early commitment.
“They've always been my No. 1 school,” he told 247Sports reporter Jeff Howe. “LSU was the first school that sent me anything, so they were up there. Once Texas offered, they were my childhood favorite and the offer put them over the top.”
Campbell is a smooth operator in sideline coverage and has excellent boundary awareness. The playmaker is considered the 37th-best cornerback in his class, according to 247Sports composite rankings, but it's fair to say he will rise up the board once more eyes are on him.
Depending on how he develops physically, Campbell could land at safety in Austin.
The future Longhorn faces a heavy dose of adversity this year. Campbell tore his left ACL and meniscus in May during his squad's spring game, the Dallas Morning News reported.
If he can rebound strong and continue to make strides in 2014 as a senior, Campbell is an tremendous catch for Texas.
4-Star DE Byron Cowart (Seffner, Fla.)
If you're searching for a future star edge-rusher in college football, look no further than Armwood High School product Byron Cowart. At 6'4" and 250 pounds, he is the definition of "man child."
Judging by his dimensions, it's not unreasonable to think Cowart could skip his final two years of high school football and earn a spot on the field as a college freshman right now. However, he remains an unfinished prospect who doesn't yet use a lot of fundamental moves in his pursuit of plays and relies too heavily on his pure power.
He lined up primarily at linebacker as a sophomore but is anticipated to take more snaps along the line this season, according to tampabay.com reporter Joey Knight. Strong-side defensive end is Cowart's likely landing spot at the collegiate level.
If Cowart can grow more comfortable with the mental aspects of the game, he could make a significant leap as a junior. For now, his raw ability is enough to incite enamor.
Teams across the country have quickly taken notice of this defensive wrecking ball. Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Vanderbilt are among teams that have extended an offer to Cowart, according to 247Sports.
4-Star CB Shaun Crawford (Lakewod, Ohio)
Shaun Crawford does all the little things right at cornerback. He peeks back at the pocket while playing his man, exhibits sideline-to-sideline pursuit and puts his entire body into a tackle.
The 5'9", 170-pound St. Edward High School star brings an edge to the field. I'm a firm believer that a tenacious mentality can make up for an inch or two in height or a few extra pounds of muscle.
Crawford doesn't get too caught up in pass coverage to become oblivious if a quarterback scrambles outside of the pocket. He adjusts on the fly, which is always a key component in determining whether or not a player is suited to succeed in the speedier college football game.
247Sports composite rankings list Crawford as the ninth-best cornerback prospect in the 2015 class. Throw in his return capabilities and this speedster becomes the kind of do-it-all defensive player who can define a program's recruiting class.
Crawford committed to Michigan this month, per an ESPN.com report, opting for Ann Arbor over a variety of other options. Arkansas, Illinois, Cincinnati, Florida State, Penn State and Michigan State were also in the mix.
“Finally having the chance to play at Michigan and touch that Go Blue sign before every home game is just breath taking,” Crawford told ESPN.com reporter Tom VanHaaren . “I could always say I wanted to play for Michigan, but now I can officially say I will play for Michigan.”
4-Star DB Cordell Broadus (Diamond Bar, Calif.)
The first thing you need to know about Cordell Broadus has absolutely nothing to do with football. The two-way standout of Diamond Bar High School is the son of hip-hop trendsetter Snoop Dogg.
Long before he was darting into the end zone or picking off passes, Broadus spent his childhood in the national spotlight on red carpets and reality television. Today, this member of entertainment royalty is garnering his own fame on the football field.
Broadus, a 6'2", 180-pound wide receiver and defensive back, is a consensus top-10 prospect in California's 2015 class, according to 247Sports composite rankings. While some squads covet him on offense, there are others that would prefer to insert him in the defensive secondary.
His hip fluidity and cutting ability would serve Broadus well at the cornerback position. Considering he still may add another two to three inches to his frame, that philosophy may not make as much sense two years from now.
Broadus currently holds offers from a growing list of schools, including Duke, California, LSU, Arizona State, USC, Nebraska and UCLA, according to 247Sports.
Regardless of his uniform or position, Broadus will be heavily followed due to his famous family.
Snoop Dogg routinely caught the camera's attention at USC games when Broadus was a youngster. Imagine the limelight he'll receive when his son is scoring touchdowns in BCS action.
This should be fun to watch.