Baylor football currently has 17 players committed in its 2021 recruiting class, and I recently ranked my top 5:
3. Tate Williams, OL— Travis (@Travis_Roeder) July 31, 2020
- Freak athlete, small school, upside for tackle (think Casey Phillips)
4. Cooper Lanz, EDGE
- Versatile, great-athlete, ideal schematic fit.
5. Tevin Williams, CB
- Great starter-kit as a press-man corner, hard to find that skillset.
Presley and the two Williamses are similarly highly ranked in the 247 composite, but Tyrone Brown and Cooper Lanz sit at #16 and #14 (out of the 17 commits), respectively. As you’d expect, I frequently diverge from the critical consensus with recruiting rankings. This is something I’ve discussed ad nauseam, but primarily centers on that fact that recruiting sites, with limited resources, have to evaluate thousands of players per year and it is a really hard job.
I think recruiting services tend to be pretty good at rating the highly coveted prospects. What they're not good at is differentiating between your more run of the mill guy, in part because their success in large part depends on the fit with their program.— Travis (@Travis_Roeder) December 18, 2019
With that said, I’m gonna look further at Brown and Lanz to explain what I think the services are missing.
TYRONE BROWN, LINEBACKER. ORANGE, TX
Brown is a very interesting prospect. He attends West-Orange Stark, a dominant but small high school football program which lies in a recruiting hotbed. He committed to Baylor almost a year ago in the middle of his Junior season.
Such an early commitment results in recruiting services rating him earlier than they normally would. His sophomore film was somewhat unremarkable, so services slapped low 3* ratings on him and moved on. This has made him susceptible to anchoring bias as services are subconsciously unwilling to deviate far from their initial ranking.
Like most prospects, Brown’s Junior film was much better than his sophomore and demonstrated why he’s such a good prospect. A modern inside linebacker has to balance two constraints: being big enough to consistently take on OL while remaining fast enough to run sideline to sideline.
You have to look closely when watching Brown’s film. Because he is playing in a smaller classification, he is frequently playing against offenses running more old school, condensed running formations. He frequently is standing in his stance just a few yards off the line of scrimmage and just reads the play, making him look like he isn’t that fast. But when the plays happen that necessitate he demonstrate his speed, it flashes obviously. He can really run. He also packs a punch and has requisite size. In summation he is big enough, he hits hard, he has good instincts, and can really run. One of my favorite plays of his is at 2:15 in the above video, he demonstrates really good lateral quickness covering the out route, and then comes up to meet the ball carrier with authority.
He’s exactly what you want from a modern inside linebacker. He reminds me a lot of the freaky athletic inside linebackers Aranda utilized at LSU. I think he starts early on and has a very successful career. Inside linebackers are increasingly difficult to find, which is why I have a great prospect like Brown rated #2 in the class while the composite has him at #16.
COOPER LANZ, EDGE. DENTON, TX.
Lanz is sort of the opposite of Brown. Denton Guyer, where he plays, is a large, historically successful program. You’d think it would be hard to overlook someone at such a prominent school, but that can sometimes happen when you have four other D1 prospects on your team rated above you. Furthermore, he isn’t a flashy player and his athleticism doesn’t necessarily pop off the screen when you watch him, but his primary value comes from his versatility.
A modern edge player (by edge I mean these defensive end, outside linebacker hybrids who are both asked to set the edge and have coverage responsibilities) has to do a lot of things well. Modern offenses are designed to isolate limited defenders and expose their weaknesses; thus, having more versatile defenders can limit the options of an offense. Lanz’s film is replete with examples of him doing multiple things well.
First, he demonstrates the ability to “set the edge” that every edge player must be able to do. By “set the edge,” I mean the ability to take on offensive lineman, maintain your ground, and funnel the ball carrier to your defensive teammates. Watch his plays at 0:55 and 1:05 to see examples.
Second, he has the requisite lateral quickness to shut down the QB option game. If they can get away with it, offenses like to “option” edge players (i.e., leave them unblocked, read his movement and the QB will either keep the ball or pitch it depending on the edge player’s decision). Having an edge player with elite lateral quickness totally shuts down the option game, because the edge player can effectively cover both the QB and the pitch-man. See 1:13 for an example of this.
Finally, he has the overall speed and athleticism to be a really good player. His play at 0:43 is one of the craziest I’ve ever seen from a highschool guy his size. It’s sort of like his version of Andrew Billings chasing down the Kansas RB.
Lanz’s rating probably suffers due to his offer list, which is much lighter than I would have assumed from his film. Schools missed something on him. Baylor’s boon.
Thanks for reading and let me know what you think in the comments!