Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Sleeper list: DB's

Continuing on with a list of potential gold mines, here's a group of players I've gotten a chance to see first hand, or even actually sent me video and information on.

When I look at defensive backs, I don't want to look at guys who are fast. I want to know if they can press, if they can adjust to different routes with how fluid their hips are, if they're not afraid to throw their body around and most important, if they can create turnovers.

I found some potential gold mines right with these guys that have gained my attention:

Photo courtesy of 24/7 sports

Strong has two offers (San Diego State, Oregon State). But after talking with former USC great and NFL linebacker Chris Claiborne, who was one of Strong's 7-on-7 coaches, I do agree that Strong is what you would call a hidden gem.

The Inland Empire prospect showed the kind of closing speed that defensive coordinators searching for ball hawks would adore. His angle pursuits and closing speed made him a huge star down in Fullerton the last time I saw him. He's already running a 4.4 40-yard dash and his size (5-foot-11, 185) already makes him look like a bonafide safety for the next level. He's naturally a running back and outside linebacker at Summit High School. But I loved his nose for the football and angle pursuits. And after watching his highlight film, I was even more blown away by his speed and determination when carrying the rock.

Strong (photo) does tend to stop his feet when making contact, and resorts to muscling a defender down. That can be something to polish up. But if he continues to polish up his defensive ball skills even more, he can help a defense searching for playmakers. If Oregon State can offer him, maybe even more PAC-12 schools can come on board. He can even play for a school like Fresno State and another USC guy, new defensive back coach Tim McDonald. The Bulldogs too me need more guys who can help create turnovers in the secondary, since they were torched bad in Pat Hill's last season. I'm sold on Strong's angle pursuits and play making ability. He even took the spotlight away from USC commit Su'a Cravens when I saw them at Fullerton.



Polk and Hicks happen to play at the same high school of Washington QB commit Troy Williams. The 5-foot-10, 175  pound Polk and the 5-foot-11, 175 pound Hicks though help bring the back bone of the Gaucho defense.

Polk is the ball-hawking free safety for Narbonne.  He's shown excellent eyes when tracking down the quarterback's move and locating the ball. As for Hicks, he's more of a cornerback and was seen playing in a zone coverage. He did show excellent jumping ability when swatting down passes. And like Polk, he also has shown to have a good nose for the football.

Both Polk and Hicks combined for six interceptions last season. They also seem like they're not afraid to step in and sacrifice their body to make the tackle. Hicks can probably use more press coverage if he's allowed to in order to become a complete shutdown corner. For Polk, making even more plays and building off of a solid junior year could get him more attention.




Salvador turned heads, including mine, down in Santa Maria for the Passing Down Best-of-the-West 7-on-7 state finals.

The 6-foot-tall Salvador showed a very smooth foot speed and covering speed when lining up against some of the top receivers the state had to offer down in Santa Maria. One reasoning behind that strength is the fact Salvador is also a track guy, with a 10.8 timed 100 meter run while at Carson.

Salvador though did tell me he's trying to get his weight up. He stands at 155 pounds and admits that can be a disadvantage, though he makes up for it in speed and hustle. He looks like a zone defender right now at cornerback, but a senior year of bulking up and jamming at the line could land him his first offer.

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