Five-star recruit who started receiving scholarship offers when he was in eighth grade. Appeared in eight games as a freshman, totaling 30-5.5-1.5 and intercepting a pass. Had his best season as a sophomore, compiling a line of 86-10.0-3.5. Tore his ACL and ended up missing his entire junior year before returning and posting 76-6.0-1.0 as a senior, reportedly playing through a torn meniscus for much of the year.
Enjoyed two productive seasons as a full-time starter for a major program, returning from a torn ACL to put together a pretty solid senior year. Well-built “Jack” (weak inside linebacker) behind an odd defensive line, but could conceivably play pretty much any off-ball linebacker spot besides maybe the Will. Patient with his reads and does a good job of keeping his shoulders square to the line when defending the run. Gets good extension with his arms to keep blockers out of his frame; able to play off of blocks while flowing horizontally to the ball. Clean footwork to shuffle into gaps and stop runers in a phone booth. One of the biggest hitters in college football, with the type of highlight-reel sticks that can help set the tone defensively and get the fans involved. Effective wrap technique to hit and sling down ballcarriers. Shows an impressive closing burst even on his 2020 tape. Nice plant and drive to close on shallow crossers. Gets his hands on opponents when pattern-matching or carrying into the flat to feel routes.
Torn ACL and meniscus injury appear to have sapped some of his famous speed and explosiveness, so teams will have to gamble that with time he’ll be able to get back to where he was in 2018. Still appears to be developing his instincts/anticipation at the position; can be a little bit slow to recognize the play direction. Range was somewhat limited last year, and could sometimes be seen jogging after the play when it got toward the sidelines; could have been due to injury but would like to see more of a sense of urgency. Passing-down responsibilities were limited mostly to working as a robber underneath or spying opposing quarterbacks. Doesn’t appear the have the widest tackling radius when pursuing in space.
A little bit of a throwback to a more physical era, combining a strong build with the ability to defend against inside runs or close in the open field and deliver big hits. A little bit of a gamble because of his injury history and the effect that seemed to have on his explosiveness and range this past season, but if he manages to recover some of the athletic traits which made him special, it’s easy to imagine him outperforming his draft position. Still looks like he has a pretty good chance of going on the second day, probably as a middle/inside linebacker.