These two position groups are a bit lumped together due to the uncertainty surrounding roles and responsibilities for the new defense. Coach Collins has utilized both a base 4-man front and 3-under front during the past few years, so certain players may change roles for certain packages as well. Of the players below, Bennett and Evans will likely be linebackers, with Bennett primarily rushing the passer from the 3-under front. Evans is more versatile, and could play a wide variety of positions. The others are likely to be 4-man front defensive ends with their hand in the dirt.
Chico Bennett Jr. (6-4 215 lbs.)
What stands out immediately with Bennett is his elite bend. Of all the film I’ve watched in this class, Bennett has the best bend of anybody. Combined with his great length, he can be a real force pass rushing. He has good burst and speed, and has the speed to run down the ball carrier from the back side. Bennett uses his hands well when swatting away punch attempts from blockers, but will need to use his hands to generate power if he wants to be successful in college. He’ll use his speed to get around the blocker, but better college linemen will force him to use his bend to rip and dip. Similarly, his run defense was limited. He needs to get lower and take better angles when pursuing the ball-carrier. Tackling form could use some work as well.
All that said, Bennett is one of my favorite recruits in this class based on his vast athletic potential. I don’t understand how he didn’t have more teams after him. If he can work on his technical game and develop some power, he’ll be a QB terror. He has all the tools, he just needs to put it all together.
D’Quan Douse (6-3 250 lbs.)
Douse is another underrated, high potential prospect discovered by the old staff this class. Douse has very long arms, and has good bend. Douse has a strong, explosive first step that he uses in conjunction with a developed swim move to devastate linemen at his current level of competition. His speed is pretty good, but won’t be elite in college.
Douse also played as a FB/TE in HS, and his film on offense really shows his ability to bend and keep himself balanced. He moves smoothly, and with the ball in his hands it’s easy to forget just how big he is.
Douse will need to use his hands a bit more, especially in the run game where he mostly just splits gaps. As a pass rusher, he’ll need to bend the corner using a rip and dip, and he should have the bend to do it.
Cornelius Evans (6-4 215 lbs.)
Collins has preached versatility since he arrived at Georgia Tech, and recruiting players like Evans shows that he means it. Evans played all over the field, from DE to rush LB to ILB. His combination of long frame, explosive first step, and chase speed allow him to play all these positions effectively. His speed as a pass rusher allows him to get around OTs at his current level, but he will need to learn to bend the edge at the next level in order to continue to be an effective edge rusher.
As an interior LB, Evans displays good pass coverage instincts and patiently reads run plays in order to keep from being caught out of place. He needs to work on tackling, specifically stopping the ball carrier’s momentum on contact instead of wrestling them down.
It will be interesting to see where Evans ends up, but he’ll likely be best as a Will Linebacker who can chase down the play and occasionally blitz from the edge. Regardless of his final role, it is nice to have players with this level of versatility.
Michael Lockhart (6-4 265 lbs.)
Lockhart is new to football, having only played his senior year. He blew up as a prospect after displaying his immense athletic potential this year, and ended up with an impressive offer list. He has a big frame, and has mostly filled it out already. He can leap for the ball to knock it down or catch it as a TE, showing his basketball background. He also has good explosiveness, which isn’t surprising given the ability to leap. Athletically he is ready to play now.
However, he needs a lot of work technically. It’s obvious that this was his first year playing football. He mostly splits gaps and runs around after the ball carrier. In HS this was effective, but in college he will have to play within his role more. After working on his craft, he has enormous potential, he’ll just time to learn and practice.
Sylvain Yondjouen (6-4 235 lbs.)
There isn’t much film on Yondjouen, so it’s hard to do a complete analysis of him. College football will be an adjustment for him, but he has the natural athleticism to succeed. He’s a smooth mover with good quickness. He’ll need to learn to get lower when taking on blocks and will need to learn pass rush moves this spring, but being an early-enrollee will be good for him. He has an ideal frame with very long arms, it will simply be a matter of learning technique. Side note: he isn’t a similar player to Gotsis or Kallon at all, so please stop comparing him to them simply because he’s from another country.