Vanderbilt added one of the best defenders in the country to its 2018 class after securing the commitment of Alston Orji.
The Texas native announced his decision on his personal Twitter account:
The 4-star outside linebacker ranks fifth at his position and 107th overall in 2018, per Scout. He's also the best outside linebacker in the Midland Region.
Orji's physique immediately stands out. Standing 6'2" and weighing 223 pounds, he cuts an imposing figure on the field. 247Sports' EJ Holland shared a photo of Orji working out last May:
Orji is a great athlete for his position. According to Hudl, he boasts a 4.56-second 40-yard dash and a 4.08-second 40-yard shuttle. To put that in perspective, the Rockwall, Texas, native would've ranked third and second, respectively, in those two categories among linebackers at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine.
Orji's athleticism will allow him to serve a variety of roles at the next level. He's a great run defender who wraps up the ball-carrier. He's also solid in pass coverage, and he has the quickness to keep up with opposing tight ends, which is an increasingly necessary skill given the evolution of the tight end position.
Orji could easily change positions if Vanderbilt wants to move him around. While listed as an outside linebacker, he'd have little trouble adjusting to inside linebacker.
Jesse Johnson of 247Sports believes he will end up in the middle playing for inside linebackers coach Chris Marve:
It's scary to think how good Orji can be when he fully grows into his body. At his current weight, he could be bullied a bit by offensive linemen. He should get naturally stronger over the next few years, and he'll also benefit from a regular strength-and-conditioning program with the Commodores.
This is the fourth commitment in the 2018 class for Vanderbilt and first on the defensive side of the ball, per Scout.
After going three straight years without a winning season, Orji will hope to make an early impact with his new team and turn things around in a hurry.