Instead of an advanced stats analysis this week, we’re going to continue the slow-moving recruiting analysis series with the LBs.
Here are the links to the Previous articles:
DE (Wow that didn’t age well)
This article will focus on Tech’s 2 commitments at the LB position, as the class is likely full there. As before the prospects will be evaluated in 5 categories, which will be different than the ones used to evaluate DL prospects. For a LB these are:
Size is a bit more than height and weight. How long are the player’s arms? Do they have a good, healthy weight distribution? How big is the frame? Is there room to add more good mass? How much?
Does the player have the length, lateral agility, burst, and pursuit speed to get sideline to sideline to support runs outside the tackles?
Defeating Blocks and Tackling
This is a bit a of a 2 lumped in one situation, but they are both related to physicality. All LB prospects will have highlight tackles on their profiles, but are they defeating blocks from bigger OL? Do they use good tackling form? Do they reliably prevent YAC from the ball carrier?
This is a bit hard to decipher from a hudl video, but there are some things to look for. How quickly do they react to the flow of the play? Do they take false steps and rely on athleticism to make the play? Do they make a lot of plays by filling the correct gap?
One of the biggest things for any player in coverage is flexibility in the hips. Additionally, the player will never be able to react to a route runner’s breaks or be able to react quickly enough to the pass in zone. Additionally, how well does the player attack the catch point in coverage? Do they have good instincts? How are the player’s hands?
Reminder of what the number ratings mean:
- 5: Power-5 Elite
- 4: Power-5 Above Average
- 3: Power-5 Average
- 2: G5
- 1: FCS
OLB JaQuez Jackson
- Size: 3
- Range: 4
- Defeating Blocks/Tackling: 4
- Play Diagnostics: 2
- Coverage: 4
When Jackson committed, he struck me as a raw, athletic prospect who needed to work on the finer points of being a linebacker at the next level. Watching his senior tape, he’s made tremendous strides in that regard, and has one of the best looking LB tapes of any Tech commit I’ve watched in a while. At 6-0 215-220 lbs, Jackson has average size for the position, and has good length for his height.
Jackson’s main strength is his range. A true sideline-to-sideline player, Jackson has run down ball carriers from all over Middle Georgia, including Tech’s own Tobias Oliver. Jackson’s first step and closing speed are first-rate, which should help with bubble screens.
The area where I felt Jackson could improve the most from his Junior film was block shedding. As a Junior, Jackson mostly stuck to the outside and didn’t have much of any film in the box, and hardly a single play where he engaged an offensive lineman. As a senior, he still does a lot of gap shooting and sideline to sideline play, but the block shedding has finally arrived. He has a number of plays in his senior film where he fills a gap well by stacking a shedding the blocker before making the tackle. His tackling is a bit better too, he’s allowing less YAC on tackles than the year prior, especially in the box.
The big area for improvement for Jackson is play diagnostics, specifically on run plays. He often takes a couple false steps before getting a handle of the play, then uses his superior athleticism to make up for it. He will occasionally sniff out a screen, but this is an area where coaching and experience will do Jackson wonders.
There isn’t a ton of coverage film out there for Jackson, but he has all the physical tools to excel there, from quick hips to great closing speed. He also displays good hands on offense and had a nifty interception in his Junior tape.
ILB/Edge Justice Dingle
- Size: 4
- Range: 2
- Defeating Blocks/Tackling: 5
- Play Diagnostics: 2
- Coverage: 2
One of Tech’s most highly rated commits, Justice Dingle is an interesting case study. A player with great strengths and some tough weaknesses, where is his best spot at the next level?
Most recruiting outlets have Dingle rated as a Mike LB based on his HS position. Dingle plays all over the field, even putting his hand in the dirt as a down lineman, but mostly plays as an Inside LB. He has tremendous size as an ILB, with a thick frame that looks heavier than his listed 230 lbs. He’s easy to find on his high school tape, as he’s just bigger than everyone else. If he had a little more length, his size rating would easily be a 5.
Range is where Dingle really struggles. He’s huge, but doesn’t excel at getting outside or playing in space. He always looks more comfortable in the box or with his hand in the dirt. He has a good first step, but his top end speed is a bit lacking, as is his lateral agility once he gets going. It’s a big area for improvement.
The dude can absolutely bring the boom, though. Dingle hits like a truck and knows how to separate the ball from the ball carrier. He’s impossible to block, too. His junior tape alone shows him defeating blocks by blowing up linemen head on, knifing into the backfield by putting his shoulder into the blocker, and bending the corner on the pass rush by utilizing a nasty rip-and-dip move.
Dingle also takes a lot of bad angles in the run game and is late reacting to run plays. Unlike Jackson, he doesn’t have the speed to make up for these mistakes. Additionally, there isn’t any substantial film of him in coverage outside of the embedded video above.
Now, reading all that, it seems like I don’t think very highly of Dingle as a recruit, but that’s not the case. I think he’s being evaluated at the wrong position. There have been whisperings that Dingle may play more of an Edge defender role at Georgia Tech, meaning he’ll be utilized as a pass rusher and general havoc creator. Looking at Dingle’s strengths, this role makes a lot of sense. He has a good first step, has a thick, strong frame that could add even more weight, and is difficult to block. On top of that, he has exceptional flexibility, a highly coveted trait for edge rushers. When playing off the edge in high school, he scrapes down the line well to chase plays away from him, and racks up the TFLs. Let’s look at how I’d rate him in an Edge defender role using the DE attributes:
- Size: 3
- Explosiveness: 4
- Bend: 5
- Run Defense: 3
- Pass Rush: 4
Looks a lot better. If used correctly, Dingle has the opportunity to be an exceptional addition to the Tech defense.