Nebraska added a third member to their 2009 recruiting class this week, getting a verbal commitment from Thaddeus Randle out of Houston. This defensive tackle prospect gave his verbal pledge to NU over Oklahoma State and Texas A&M, among others. There are some good reasons to be excited about this prospective player. And, fan concerns about his size do not have much merit, in my opinion.
Why I Like This Recruit
Randle joins Cole Pensick as the second defensive tackle pledged to the Huskers. I'm very glad to see the Huskers going after defensive tackle prospects early in the cycle. Yes, I know the commitment is non-binding until he signs in February. All the same, football is won by your "big people" and quality defensive tackles can be hard to find. I am glad to see that linemen are a priority for this staff.
Next, look at where this kid comes from and who the Huskers beat for his services. Luring a player from the southern part of Texas and beating out conference opponents to get him is great. Big 12 talent starts with Texas, folks.
Also, I like what I am hearing about Randle. He plays with a high level of effort and intensity. And, he apparently displays good fundamental skills for a high school player (good leverage, hand placement, etc). Finally, he comes from a winning program in a football crazy state. Fans should always welcome a football team full of kids who are used to winning.
Size Not A Big Concern
Some fan reaction to this new recruit is concern over him being undersized, at 6'1'' and about 260 lbs. The same could be said for Pensick, listed at 6'2'' and 255 lbs. Frankly, I’m not too concerned. About height, it is actually very good to have a defensive tackle who is rather short. The lowest man wins in football. It's a game of leverage. So you want your defensive tackles to have a low center of gravity. For example, Seckrick Ellis - a dominant player at USC and a first-round selection in the NFL Draft - is listed at just 6'0'.
Of course, Ellis weighed about 305 pounds while at USC. That's another variable. Again, I'm not too concerned. There are ways for him to easily gain anywhere from 25 to 40 pounds in just a short time at NU (See Carriker, Adam). We have seen several players gain both good and bad weight while at NU. The key is finding the right amount while maintaining their quickness. And remember that recruits are just 17 year old kids, so they are very likely not even done growing.
With both Pensick and now Randle, are we seeing a bit of a prototype for what kind of defensive tackles Pelini and company are seeking? Maybe. But, if the resulting players are 6'2'' 295 pound defensive tackles who plays with a great motor, good leverage, and good technique. Then I think any Husker fan would be thrilled.