Each week, Bleacher Report National Recruiting Analyst Tyler Donohue analyzes a different prospect based on in-person evaluation and intensive film study. Here's our latest scouting report of a promising young athlete and how he projects as a college player.
The prize of the Pacific Northwest in this 2017 college football recruiting cycle, offensive tackle Foster Sarell emerged as a monumental prospect—literally and figuratively—early in prep career.
It's been more than three years since Bleacher Report noted his first Power Five offer from the Washington Huskies. That opportunity arrived just a month into his freshman campaign at Graham Kapowsin High School in Washington.
His offer sheet swelled during the seasons that followed, as he became entrenched as a marquee member of the 2017 class. Sarell, who stands nearly 6'7" and weighs 311 pounds, is now considered the No. 1 offensive lineman and No. 2 overall recruit in Scout.com rankings.
A dominant performance at The Opening, where he routinely bested blue-chip defenders, helped solidify his spot among America's most coveted high school athletes. Sarell who remains uncommitted seven weeks shy of national signing day, is expected to announce collegiate intentions Jan. 7 at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas.
Pac-12 contenders USC, Stanford and in-state Washington have each hosted him throughout an expansive recruitment process, while Notre Dame and Nebraska also welcomed Sarell to campus this season. He presents plug-and-play potential at either tackle slot, so there's certainly a chance whichever program prevails here will count on him to protect its quarterback and clear rushing lanes as early as next September.
Sarell impressed immediately at the prep level and his continued progression creates buzz that he could become an All-American-caliber college blocker and, ultimately, a lauded NFL draft target.
But before we look too far into the future, let's examine the elements that make this massive athlete so compelling.
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High School: Graham Kapowsin (Graham, Washington)
Size: 6'6 ½", 311 lbs
Recruitment Status: Uncommitted; options include Nebraska, Notre Dame, Stanford, USC and Washington
- Immense size as at a young age never seemed to cost him coordination. Many large linemen deal with balance and bend issues during high school, but Sarell has maintained a rare level of smooth fluidity throughout.
- Physical frame is relatively toned and leaves abundant room for additional bulk as collegiate nutritionists and weight trainers attempt to maximize mass.
- Sarell was essentially college-ready as a high school underclassman. Comments from Graham Kapowsin head coach Eric Kurle to MaxPreps in 2013: "He is the best player I have ever coached. And I have coached 12 Division I players, four being linemen, and he is better than them as a ninth-grader."
- Carries a humble and intellectual demeanor during discussions and interactions with analysts and coaches. Enjoys the details of conflict in the trenches and possess excellent football IQ.
- A devout studier of linemen technique. His mother, Pam Sarell, told Jayda Evans of the Seattle Times: "In elementary, junior-high days, he used to sit at our computer and just watch YouTube videos of people like his ability, his position, his stature."
- The Seattle Times piece points to Sarell's evaluation of standouts such as Anthony Munoz, Walter Jones, Orlando Pace and Joe Thomas. His mother added: "He’s a technician and academic with it for sure."
- Sarell was selected offensive line MVP at The Opening, an elite invite-only showcase held in July at Nike's world headquarters.
- Todd Huber, who leads offensive linemen drills at The Opening, told B/R: "Foster is ready for whatever a defensive lineman throws at him. Nothing takes him by surprise, so he's ready to counter and knows how to finish."
- He combines a cerebral mind with tremendous physical traits. A massive wingspan extends his reach along the edge, while nimble footwork helps cut off angles for edge-rushers.
- His hand placement is on point, and opponents struggle mightily to gain separation once Sarell is engaged.
- Lateral quickness is a key component in both pass-blocking and run-blocking efforts. Sarell reached the point of attack with precision and shoots toward the second level to eliminate multiple defensive targets on any given play.
Let's look to the tape for a little visual confirmation regarding this 5-star prospect's prowess.
Coaches love an offensive lineman who maintains his assignment downfield, rather than simply relying on an initial punch. That's a major positive with Sarell, who routinely keeps his feet churning in an effort to fully eliminate defensive linemen from the play or to seek out a linebacker at the next level.
In the sequence below, Sarell lines up in his typical role at left tackle on a 3rd-and-5 attempt from Graham Kapowsin's own 41-yard line. The staff dials up a receiver reverse toward his side of the field and, following a well-executed block by the running back, that receiver has room to work near the sideline with Sarell serving as leader of this convoy:
Sarell blows a defensive end off the snap, thrusting through his chest plate and gaining immediate leverage. Rather than discarding the defender, who could then provide traffic for the ball-carrier's path, he remains engaged and continues to plow beyond the first-down marker.
His teammate takes advantage, working along Sarell's left side and dashing ahead for a 14-yard gain:
Earlier we noted his ability to blow up defensive game plans by pinpointing multiple opponents and carrying out the task. In the example below, his initial duty is to chip the 3-technique despite the presence of an edge-rusher who shades his outside shoulder here:
He makes quick work of this first phase, firing off to his right and throttling the tackle inside:
Sarell then shows off his short-area burst, redirecting sights toward the middle linebacker (No. 43). He makes contact just as Graham Kapowsin's running back surges through the gap and off Sarell's right hip for a sizeable gain:
As long as Sarell remains healthy, we'd be surprised if he isn't part of a collegiate offensive lineup as the 2017 season unfolds. His breakthrough into a starting role may not happen immediately, as there could be veterans to defer to initially, but one way or another there's a strong likelihood he convinces the coaching staff to entrust significant reps to him as a freshman.
Sarell is a nuanced student of the game who won't present a liability in terms of game-plan preparation and execution. Simply put, mentally, he won't be in over his head, which is an issue that annually derails dreams of early playing time for many first-year college linemen.
Expect continued physical growth to vault Sarell into the 325-pound range as he gradually settles into the next phase of a promising career. His range as a blocker will be further enhanced by continued muscle growth, strengthening his counter efforts against power rushers.
Sarell has the physical and mental makeup of a multi-year lynchpin along the offensive line, likely vying to anchor things at left tackle within time. Few prospects in the 2017 class seemingly present more promise to land on freshman All-American lists this time next year, and beyond that there is a clear path to widespread attention from professional scouts.
Tyler Donohue is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Quotes and observations obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Prospect ratings courtesy of Scout.
Follow Tyler via Twitter: @TDsTake.