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Evaluations of the Newest Football Signees, Part 1

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NCAA Football: Big 12 Media Days Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Hello again, everyone. With the new early signing period, I figured I could provide some notes and evaluations for those who are interested.

Just a quick note: I don’t pay for subscription sites, as all I am really interested in is watching these guys after they commit to see what the coaching staff is looking for and how these guys will fit in. Because of this, I don’t know whether some of these guys are injured or could be dealing with other issues. I’m purely providing insight based off their available game highlights, for what that is worth.

I’m currently preparing these before the signing day, and I am not sure who all exactly is signing during this early signing period. Expecting that it will be somewhere around 16-18 guys, I am planning on doing 6 or 7 guys per release, with 3 posts.

As with my previous renditions of these, please comment with your own opinions, agreements, or disagreements! I’m sure y’all will catch stuff I don’t catch.

Gerry Bohanon

6-4, 213 lbs. Quarterback. Earle, AR.

SPARQ: 4.15 shuttle, 30.7 inch vertical, 37 foot powerthrow.

So, there is no 40 time available, but he is at worst a 4.7 guy. At his size, his testing results are incredible. We’re talking about a great athlete at WR or Safety. But of course, Bohanon isn’t coming to Baylor to bolster either of those positions, he’s gonna be the second scholarship QB on the roster. Before getting into the analysis, it is pretty incredible that Baylor pulled in Bohanon. His other main option was Arkansas, with new coach Chad Morris, AKA the guy who developed Deshaun Watson. Morris is an excellent offensive coach, now the coach of THE program in Arkansas—where everyone grows up wanting to play there—and Baylor pulled him out of state. That’s remarkable. Huge kudos to Rhule and co.

As said previously, Bohanon is an athletic freak, and that shows in his tape. Much of his highlights are spent sprinting around after a busted assignment leaves a defender unblocked and throwing on the run. The first thing that popped to me is Bohanon’s arm strength—he can really sling it. There is a play about a minute in where he throws 50 years off his back foot with ease.

Elite athlete. Strong arm. By all accounts, high character guy and hard worker. The only things that will determine whether Bohanon is a great college QB are his 1) ability to grasp the system and 2) accuracy. Accuracy is paramount for QBs. Bohanon shows the ability to be accurate in his highlights, but its one of those things that is difficult to judge from highlights, because of course the guy isn’t going to include passes he airmails.

Bohanon’s highlights are 8 minutes of him just dominating. He shows a real ability to throw on the run, hit deep targets in stride, and keep his head up even when scrambling. He’s a good fit for this system, which places a premium on firing the ball accurately to guys in space. Furthermore, his legs will always provide another dimension. Watch and enjoy his highlights. The guy is a beast.

It will be fun to contrast him and Charlie. They are different QBs, to be sure. But QB is a different position; you can win around any type as long as they’re good. It’s not like safety or RB where you may need specific types of players to succeed in your system. A good QB is good in almost any system. Bohanon has all the tools to be a great QB. It will fun to watch him progress as a Bear.

Christian Morgan

6-0, 190 lbs. Safety. Houston, TX.

SPARQ: 4.55 Forty, 4.03 shuttle, 42.8 vertical, 43.5 power throw.

Morgan is a terrific athlete; his SPARQ results immediately tell as much: These numbers speak to a college ready athlete—he will be coming in at safety, the position of greatest need for the Bears. Furthermore, he is enrolling early, which will give him a great opportunity to play early.

Morgan doesn’t have a ton of tape available, which means he might’ve been dealing with an injury. The tape that is available is really good, and really varied; his team used him in a variety of roles, and he seemed to excel in all of them. He can really ball. Making plays on balls in the air, attacking runners downhill, making plays on offense, forcing multiple fumbles, he seems to have an instinct for the game. I seem to recall Rhule saying in a press conference that “[Defensive Coordinator Phil] Snow has a kid coming in mid-year that he really likes,” and it is easy to see why.

I expect Morgan to see the field early. He could play a variety of positions—free safety, strong safety, corner, SAM LB, hell, even running back. I expect he’ll start out as a strong safety. In this scheme, that generally means he will line up to the field (the wide side of the field), and is generally the guy will “spin down” to cover WRs (Taion Sells and Chris Miller mostly played here this past year). I like Morgan here because it combines his downhill mentality along with his ability to cover guys in space. Baylor got an all-around great athlete and football player in Morgan.

JT Woods

6’3, 175 lbs. Safety. Cibolo, TX.

SPARQ: 4.62 forty, 4.22 shuttle, 35.2 vertical, 30 foot power throw.

Why this guy is rated so lowly, I have no idea. In my eyes, Woods is one of the better players in this class. For a 6’3 guy, his SPARQ numbers are fantastic. Furthermore his film is really good. As discussed with Christian Morgan, safety is a position of need for the Bears and I believe that Woods is also an early enrollee.

He makes a good pair with Morgan, as I see Woods as a free safety. In this scheme, the free safety generally plays to the boundary (the short side of the field) and is the safety who gets rolled into single high coverage most often. This means he needs to 1) have range, 2) attack the ball in the air, and 3) be the last man standing in run fits (sorry for the conniptions, Baylor fans). This position was most often manned by Davion Hall and Verkedrick Vaughns this past year.

Woods can do all these things, and was asked to do them a lot in high school. He’s a great athlete, shows terrific range, and can close on the ball in the air. Furthermore, he clearly doesn’t mind sticking his head in there to stop the run. I like his play at 2:20 as a good indicator of what he can do. I think Woods is a perfect fit for this scheme.

Christoph Henle

6-6, 230 lbs. Tight End. Arlington, TX.

SPARQ: 4.98 forty, 4.69 shuttle, 29.9 vertical, 33 power throw.

One of the many tight ends taken in this class (both Feurbacher and Wainwright graduating), Henle is a great take for the style of offense Rhule wants to play. Henle’s highlights are aptly named “the hybrid,” as he spends an equal amount of time lined up as an in-line TE and split out wide to abuse smaller private school defensive backs. Henle’s SPARQ numbers don’t scream “uber-athlete,” but his tape shows a surprisingly skilled technician for his pedigree (from Austria) and competition (private school).

Henle is another mid year enrollee, and I would be absolutely shocked if he redshirted. He already shows a great proficiency at blocking and catching the ball. There isn’t too much to add here if you watch his highlights: Henle is a big body with terrific hands, body control and the necessary mean streak to block proficiently. He’s about as solid of a take as you’re going to get, and an example of Rhule’s TE-centric scheme capitalizing on a market inefficiency; if more teams were using TEs, he’d be rated much higher and be offered by everyone in the state.

Look at his catch at 1:31. that kind of body control for a guy his size is incredibly valuable. For what Rhule wants to do, he is going to be an incredibly valuable piece for the 2018 Bears.

Jackson Kimble

6’5, 285 lbs. Offensive Line. Southlake, TX.

This is the second straight year that Baylor has taken a Southlake Carroll offensive lineman, and he’s not too dissimilar from last year’s Henry Klinge. Kimble played RT (next to RG Klinge, and C Miller) as a Junior and moved to LT as a senior. As I detailed last year reviewing Klinge and Miller, Southlake runs a good scheme for translating to the Bears, as we both run a lot of inside and outside zone. Having athletic lineman who can lock up defenders on the move is the premiums skillset in this scheme.

Kimble is a solid take. He’s a big guy who can move. I’m not sure he has quite the upside of Klinge, but he has a solid floor. He plays with good leverage, has a good punch, and moves his feet well. Playing at SLC he already has good technique. Moreover, he shows the necessary mean streak to play OL at a power 5 level.

Judging OL from highlights can be tough. But Kimble shows all the necessary traits to become a solid starter. I think Kimble could play Tackle if needed, but his future is likely at Guard.

Casey Phillips

6-5, 280 lbs. Offensive Line. Franklin, TX.

SPARQ: 4.92 forty, 4.75 shuttle, 29 inch vertical, 45 foot powerthrow.

Phillips didn’t have any senior tape that I could find, so this evaluation is based off his junior film. I’m not sure if he was injured or just didn’t care to upload highlights since he knew he was solid to Baylor.

Phillips is a big guy playing small school ball. He immediately sticks out. Most of his film is just him mauling smaller DL who probably get excited about their max 190lb bench press. He will be a bit of a project, as you have to build up a lot of new muscle memory blocking 300 pounders as opposed to 180 pounders. All around, he will need a lot of technique work, as he usually can just stick his body around these guys and just fall on them.

He’s a project, but he’s a good project. He’s got a great frame, shows good quick feet both in his film and his terrific testing results. Almost all of his test show that he will be one of the best athletes in the Big XII as an OL. In particular, his shuttle time shows he has quickness which will be required in this scheme. He won’t need to get too much bigger, but I imagine he will need a year or two to hone his technique before he has a chance of seeing the field. I’m buying Phillips as a Tackle. He has the frame, and his athleticism should allow it. It’ll just be a matter of whether he can become a proficient pass blocker.

BJ Hanspard

6-0, 170 lbs. Defensive Back. Desoto, TX.

SPARQ: 4.54 forty, 4.47 shuttle, 39 inch vertical, 32.5 power throw.

Hanspard is a great prospect. The son of an NFL player, coming out of Desoto, he is much more ready to contribute than most HS guys. His testing numbers are a lot like Harrison Hand’s, but a little worse across the board (not an insult—Hand had ridiculous numbers). Hand was somewhat raw coming out of NJ, but when you watch tape it is clear that Hanspard is close to ready to play.

The thing that I like about Hanspard’s highlight reel is he clearly knows what is important as a defensive back—i.e., he doesn’t only put plays where the ball comes his way. For instance, his play at :30 seconds is tremendous, showing great technique. I’m not sure that I buy he is 6’0, but we shall see. He shows a great all around game, but his best asset is his coverage ability. He can really stick in a guy’s hip pocket. Big XII offenses eat safeties alive on corner routes, Hanspard is a guy who can stick with a guy easily.

Hanspard played on a team with several other elite DBs, so he played a lot of safety and nickle corner. I think he could play either corner or safety for Baylor, but I would bet on strong safety, where he can utilize his man coverage skills while also helping in run support. Early on I think he’ll fight to play nickel corner, which was manned by several different guys this year, including Timarcus Davis. Hanspard is a ready to play defensive back coming to a conference where you need a ton of them. Great get for Baylor.

Jackson Gleeson

6-1, 160 lbs. Wide Receiver. Mansfield, TX.

No SPARQ Results. 21.3 200m track time (fast).

So, one thing is eminently clear when watching Gleeson’s highlights: he’s fast. His build and acceleration actually remind me of KD Cannon. Cannon was more of a freak athlete in other respects, but he could always take the top off a defense, and Gleeson should be able to do the same.

Almost all of Gleeson’s highlights show him dealing with a corner 10 yards off of him, for fear of getting beat deep. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when college corners have similar speed and can be physical with him on the LOS. That tends to always be something of an unknown with high school receivers, however.

With Gleeson’s speed and decent height, he obviously has the potential to become a great receiver. It looks like his high school offense didn’t utilize him enough, as he is almost exclusively used on play-action verticals, posts, and deep comeback routes. If he is good in short spaces, he is a guy Baylor will want to use in tunnel screens and crossing routes like they did with Chris Platt this past year before he was injured. He’s a guy who will play outside but Baylor will want to get the ball moving across the middle of the field.

Good take for Baylor. He will almost assuredly redshirt to hone his craft as a receiver. With that speed, potential is sky high.