Hello everyone, it is that time of year again: I am going to be analyzing the film of the most recent football signees, giving my general thoughts and predicting their role with Baylor. For me, part of the fun of watching college football is in watching young men grow from high school projects into really good football players. It is even more fun when you have some background on them.
For example, Denzel Mims was a middling-ranked high school track-star who played with a horrible QB, but showed the potentital of a 4* WR if you really watched his high school film. In this most recent class, I noted that Josh Fleeks was probably the most likely true freshman to get serious minutes, and I predicted that Kalon Barnes’ highest upside was at CB. I say this only partially to pat myself on the back, but mostly to show that “out of nowhere” happenings (i.e., Kalon Barnes, a high school WR from a small school, playing CB) can be predicted from digging into high school film.
*These previews will all include “SPARQ” ratings for players that have them. These are Nike/ESPN camp testing results that use laser measurements. These (along with track times) are often incredibly helpful for ascertaining the athleticism of some prospects—particularly small school guys. As a quick primer: the forty yard dash helps measure long speed; the shuttle measures short-area quickness; the vertical jump measures explosiveness; and the power throw is just a strength measurement.
Peyton Powell, 4* QB/Athlete, Odessa, TX
6-2, 187 lbs. SPARQ: 4.45 forty, 4.25 shuttle, 37.6 vertical, 36.5 power throw.
So, before I watched Powell’s film, I knew that the noise surrounding him was that he wants to play QB but his most likely future was at defensive back or wide receiver. After watching his film, however, I think he is somewhat a victim of his own athleticism. When recruitniks/coaches/etc. see that you’re a 6-2 QB playing in a somewhat retro option-oriented offense who can absolutely fly along with great quickness, they naturally dream about your ability as a lockdown corner or a premier wide receiver. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see Powell stick as a QB, at least for a few years.
Don’t get me wrong, if I had to take one guy to play QB in this class, it would be Jacob Zeno. Zeno is more polished, has a stronger arm, looks more accurate, etc. Powell, because of his offense, is more difficult to evaluate, but could end up being better in the long run. His arm strength is fine, and he looks to at least be accurate enough. The difficulty in evaluation comes because the majority of his passing plays are A) pop-passes to a single target after a run fake or B) one or two option roll out high-low concepts (where the QB rolls out to one side and reads whether to throw it downfield or short, usually depending on an intermediate defender).
Powell displays his elite athleticism on the regular. When running with the ball, his initial acceleration is fantastic, and he is very quick in and out of his movements. He has a natural ability to bend around blockers which show that he could play running back if he wanted to.
I could write a lot more about Powell and his strengths and weaknesses, but here is what matters. Powell is an elite athlete who has the raw ability to be a really good college QB. As I talked about in my first piece where I discuss Jacob Zeno, there are usually plenty of guys with the requisite arm strength and accuracy to play QB in college, so the separator is usually mental: toughness, discipline, leadership, film-study, etc. I have no way of knowing those qualities for him, but the opportunity is there for Powell to be a starting QB at Baylor. If not, he can switch to any number of positions and be great there.
Blake Bedier, 3* JUCO OL, Ephraim, UT
6-6, 295 lbs. 3 Years to play 2; i.e., he can redshirt for one season.
One piece of information is vital when evaluating Blake Bedier: “he did not play high school football.” This, alone, makes him an incredible success story. It also multiplies his upside by a considerable amount.
Bedier’s film is awesome. He’s tall, athletic, has a good “punch,” and play with a mean streak. These are all the qualities that you look for in a good Offensive Tackle. Like most OL, there isn’t a ton of film of him setting in pass-protection (it generally makes for more boring highlights than pancakes in the run game), but in the clips shown, he shows the requisite athleticism to play tackle in the Big 12.
For not having played high school football, and thus, only having played for two years, he is surprisingly ready to play. His technique is fine, playing with a good base, and generally not playing “too high” as you see with a lot of high school and JUCO O-Lineman. He also handles twists and stunts from the opposing DL with ease.
Bedier has 3 years to play 2, so he is available to redshirt for a year, and I really hope he can use it this first year. For one, he could be an absolute monster by the time he is a redshirt senior; second, if Bedier redshirts, it likely means that Fruhmorgen is healthy and playing well. In all likelihood, though, Bedier will not redshirt because he is simply too good. He’s likely good enough to step in as a one of the top 3 tackles for 2019 (along with Connor Galvin and Fruhmorgen).
Isaiah Howard, 3* DL, Loganville, GA
6-5, 285 lbs.
Howard is the enigma of the 2019 recruiting class. Playing at one of the most talent-laden, heavily-scouted high schools in the country, he had no offers until Baylor offered late this past fall. Whenever a fanbase’s school offers someone that nobody else has offered, the preferred thought is that your school found a prospect that nobody else found. So yeah, let’s go with that. Howard apparently moved to Georgia for his senior year after moving from New Jersey, so perhaps its understandable that his playing time wasn’t great being new to one of the most talented teams in the country.
Direct quote from Matt Rhule: “First off, Isaiah is an explosive athlete, just a big, powerful young man. He’s someone that Evan Cooper identified and recruited. He’s a guy that is game-ready strength wise and is already 285 pounds. We think he has an extremely high ceiling and are excited to see what he can do once he joins our program.”
So as to avoid repeating what the head coach said, I’ll add my analysis: ditto. Philosophically, Howard fits in with what Baylor has been recruiting on the defensive line ever since Rhule arrived: big, long, powerful athletes that they can coach up. As coach Rhule said, Howard is already physically close to ready, so he will see the field whenever he is up to snuff tactically.
Many of the other DL that Baylor has been recruiting look like they’re going to max out around 280-290 lbs, but I think Howard is a candidate for beefing up to 300+. He has the athletic versatility to play end or inside, but I foresee him as a Nose Tackle (lining up next to or across from the offensive Center) most probably.
Hakeem Vance, DB, Hattiesburg, MS
6-1, 203 lbs. SPARQ: 4.63 forty, 4.42 shuttle, 36.7 vertical, 44.0 power throw.
Vance doesn’t really have too many senior highlights. It looks like he switched schools for his senior year, and either he was injured or something didn’t go well as far as playing time, I’m not sure. So I’m primarily going to evaluate off of his junior film.
First things first, as far as his testing numbers, Vance is clearly a great athlete for his size. He’s not a burner, but plenty fast for his size. Baylor lists him as a defensive back, but I think he is going to play closer to the line of scrimmage. He’s already the same size as Christian Morgan and Henry Black, but he is closer to the speed of Black than Morgan, and Black’s speed is what has kept him playing closer to the line of scrimmage.
Baylor has been rolling with a lot of defensive backs on the field lately, and I think Vance’s future lies in a versatile player who comes in on passing downs. I don’t think he has the speed to play as an every-down safety. The other option is for him to add 20 or so pounds and be a true in the box linebacker. His numbers are actually pretty similar to high-school safety Ashton Logan, who is now a weakside linebacker.
Qualan Jones, RB, Cedar Hill, TX
5-11, 219 lbs. SPARQ: 4.49 forty, 4.26 shuttle, 37.1 vertical, 45.5 power throw.
Jones is a tough evaluation. His testing numbers show that he is an absolute athletic freak. The dude already looks like he has been through years of a college strength and conditioning program, and all those numbers are cream of the crop. The difficulty in evaluation comes because A) he’s playing in TAAPS, so the competition is much weaker than if he was playing at a 5 or 6A school and B) he looks like he is already physically maxed out, so it’s unclear how much untapped potential there is left in him.
I picked out his highlights against Bishop Lynch, because it looks like that was the best team they faced this year. Against a lot of the other schools, guys who looked like me in high school (5-10 165 lbs) are trying to tackle him. It seems apt to refer to Jones as a bowling ball; a guy you want to tackle early before he gains a full head of steam. He seems decent enough in short spaces, but because of his size he is never going to have elite “suddenness” like Craig Williams.
Jones is worth the take because of his overall athleticism. Whether he makes it or breaks it depends on his ability to learn the minutiae of playing running back, and whether he can keep his sturdy frame going against arm tackles. If it doesn’t work out at running back, Baylor could do some nasty stuff with him as an H-Back/Fullback a la Dimitri Flowers at Oklahoma a few years back. Flowers’ senior year he had 26 catches for 464 yards and 14 rushes in short yardage situations. I could see something similar for Jones.