After last season’s disaster of an O-Line and some untimely attrition, Paul Johnson made it known that he felt the team was low on scholarship OL, hinting that it would be a focus for the 2017 class. Six months later, the coaches have 4 commits on board at the position, and each brings a unique set of skills to the team. With a nice blend of prospects, the future of the unit doesn’t look quite as dire.
It is worth noting that none of these players have signed, and could decide to go back on their commitments, but for now it’s worth analyzing their skills.
G Connor Hansen
Whew, that is one athletic big man. It had been a while since I’d watched Hansen’s film, and for the second time I came away impressed. Hansen is an extremely powerful blocker, with a viciously quick first step. It’s rare to see a man that big explode out of his stance like that. I can’t emphasize that enough. While most of his film is at DT, the OG skills are evident, as he takes control of blockers and drives them into the backfield often in his film. While he plays Center now, he’ll be a Guard in the Spread Option. While athletic, he’s much more in his element drive blocking than blocking in space at the second level. He’ll also need to work on making his pad level more consistent, but it’s not too big an issue for someone of his age.
The biggest disappointment was the lack of pass protection film. His HS offense is clearly run-heavy, so he’ll need to work on pass protection skills once on campus, which could prohibit him from getting on the field early.
T Zach Quinney
“You can’t teach 6-6” may be one of the most over-used adages in scouting, but it’s over-used for a reason. You just have to love the length on this kid. In the run game, guys this tall usually have pad level issues, but Quinney is pretty solid in this area. He’s not consistent, but clearly understands pad level and leverage concepts. That makes coaching a lot easier. He also perfectly executes a reach block in his film, which shows the advantages of his length. A reach block involves getting outside of a defender who is lined up outside of you, establishing leverage, and pushing the defender back inside or upfield. It’s one of the hardest blocks to make in the sport, and is essential to the Rocket Toss.
His pass protection sets are a bit upright, but he displays quick feet and a good kick-slide. He mirrors pass rushers well, and is persistent. He’ll need to work on his upper-body strength and punch in order to fully utilize his length, as he lets rushers get into his chest too much.
Quinney will be a pure tackle in this offense, but he has all the tools to be a great one. He’ll need to add a lot of weight, but he has a lot of frame. Expect him to top out between 290 and 310 lbs.
C/G/T Demetris Harris
Hey, we got a guy named Demetris and a guy from Savannah Christian! That’s what we were trying to do for months right?
Joking aside, Harris is a great addition to the class, he’s an aggressive run blocker with a nasty streak. It seems like every play he’s either looking for another guy to hit or driving someone into the dirt. That level of nasty will make him a favorite of both coaches and fans if he can bring it to the next level.
The biggest negative with Harris is technique. His pad level is way too high, and unsurprisingly he occasionally has trouble keeping his feet while trying to sustain a block. He’ll need to remedy this in his final high school season.
Perhaps his greatest strength is his position flexibility. Harris is athletic enough to play tackle or center, and has fairly long arms for his height. He understands pass protection technique at the OT position, though he needs to bend better in order to get his pad level down in his pass set. With a wide frame that already holds over 280 lbs, it’s also possible that Harris grows into a Guard. Where he ends up will depend on his development, and that could provide flexibility to a unit with an uncertain future.
C/T Michael Minihan
Coach Johnson used his Hawaii connections again to land Michael Minihan, who has perhaps the most impressive film of all the players we’ve discussed(It’s close between him and Hanson, but for different reasons.). Minihan is a technician. I’ve simply never seen a Georgia Tech OL commit come of high school with technique this developed before. For the system he runs in high school, he has great pad level. He blocks in space well, and knows how to finish blocks, especially at the second level. He gets out of his stance quickly, and gets to the second level quickly. With the issues Tech had blocking the MLB last year, this was a welcome sight.
In pass pro, Minihan is even more impressive. He has great feet, and can easily mirror rushers. He bends well, and has good pad level in his pass set. He knows how to use his hands to control pass rushers. Once he gets his hands into the defender’s chest, they aren’t going anywhere no matter how hard they struggle. If he had the arm length of, say, Quinney, it would be even more impressive. His most impressive and refreshing attribute, however, is that he understands pass protecting as a unit instead of as an individual. he passes off twist stunts to the Guard, and seamlessly switches up his assignment in order to ensure pocket integrity.
I’m not sure his frame will be able to hold the weight required for Guard, and I’m also unsure if he’ll stick at Tackle at 6-2 even though he displays the necessary skills. With his ability to get to the second level and advanced knowledge of blocking schemes, Center could be a good fit.
What to Expect
With a high-upside Guard, a high-upside Tackle, and two guys with great position flexibility, the Tech OL could once again have options. If all 4 of these recruits can contribute, the scary depth issues that will plague this team for the next couple of years could easily be gone by 2018, and the offense will be able to move forward under Lucas Johnson, or whoever wins the 2017 QB competition.