The fifth player to join the 2017 class, Jaytlin Askew—a cornerback from McEachern HS in Powder Springs, Ga.—announced his commitment to Tech on June 15, 2016. He ultimately became the second McEachern cornerback in as many years to enroll at Tech, joining his former high school teammate Ajani Kerr in the secondary. Askew is listed at 5-foot-11 and 160 pounds (though the height is a bit generous; most recruiting services list him as two or three inches shorter) and was rated a three-star prospect on both Rivals (5.7) and 247Sports (0.8646).
At the time of his commitment, Askew was said to be Tech’s top target at cornerback. He had reported offers from a number of high-profile programs, including Florida State, Auburn, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Nebraska, and West Virginia, so landing his commitment was a huge victory for the coaching staff. Askew cited academics as a major factor in his decision to attend Tech—in fact, when he announced his commitment, he said his preferred major was robotics engineering. Even if Tech doesn’t have a formal undergraduate major by that name, he should have little trouble finding coursework and research to suit his interests.
If his film is any indication, it honestly seems like size is the only thing that kept Askew from being bumped up to a four-star rating. He has a nearly complete skillset for a cornerback.
The biggest thing that stands out is how well he reads opposing quarterbacks, and it’s reflected in his coverage and playmaking abilities. In man coverage, regardless of what route the opposing receiver is running, Askew is almost always able to mark him step for step. He does a great job of tracking the ball in the air and positioning himself to make a play downfield; on numerous occasions he is able to undercut the receiver’s route to either knock the ball down or pick it off. He flashes the speed to run with just about anyone and the athleticism to make a play on the ball at its highest point, even if he’s matched up against a taller receiver.
When he drops back in a zone, his ability to read the QB and diagnose the play becomes even more pronounced. Askew breaks on the ball as soon as it’s released, attacking the ball if he’s close enough or drilling the receiver if he can’t break up the pass. On one occasion, he sees a WR screen developing and attacks it even before the QB has begun his throwing motion; Askew runs right past the player assigned to block him and drills the receiver right as he catches it, stopping him for no gain.
Askew hits low every time he makes a tackle, which is a tremendously useful tendency for a small defensive back. He does not shy away from contact, and he shows the ability to disengage from a blocker in time to reach the ballcarrier. Given his size, it’s likely that run support will be the area where he needs to put in the most work, but the fact that he already has good tackling form will help him tremendously against the bigger and faster athletes he’ll have to bring down at the collegiate level.
What to Expect
He’ll face fierce competition from the other defensive back signees, but two things are in Askew’s favor as he contends for playing time this fall: he enrolled early, which gives him a head start in learning the defensive scheme, and he’ll be lining up at cornerback, where Tech is very thin after the departures of reserves Dorian Walker and Meiko Dotson. Askew could feasibly play either cornerback position in Ted Roof’s scheme. His ability to diagnose the play and react quickly would serve him well at boundary corner, and he has the speed and athleticism required to be an effective field corner.
If he’s going to play this season at cornerback, it will almost certainly be on the field side, where there is no clear backup behind starter Lance Austin. It’s also very possible that Askew gets on the field on special teams—most likely as part of the coverage unit, but he could also get a look at kick returner, particularly if incumbent Nate Cottrell takes on a bigger role in the A-back rotation.
All in all, Askew is an intelligent and talented addition to the Tech secondary. He has a very good chance of contributing as a true freshman—if not in the secondary, then at least on special teams—and when Austin and Step Durham finish up their senior campaigns a year from now, expect Askew to be one of the top contenders to take over one of the vacant starting jobs.