What struck me most was all these receivers have an inherent ability to 'go-get-the-ball,' meaning they all have great leaping ability, including white receivers Weber and Mugleston. Translation: even if the starting BYU quarterback is a little off on his passes to the receivers, this special group of wide-outs has far superior athleticism to 'get the ball' if it is reasonably close.
Allow me to comment on the receivers individually, then I'll provide my observations on the other players and some more pleasant surprises as well.
Watkins will single-handedly change the look and effectiveness of BYU's offense. He has it ALL: Breakaway speed; Gale Sayers-type juke moves, while at full speed; Leaping ability; Long arms; Big hands; Impressively sick one-handed catches; and a very keen sense of the field both vertically and horizontally. He is good enough to go to the NFL after only one year at BYU. If it happens, it will only help BYU in recruiting more exceptional wide receiver prospects in the future.
Harris will have the greatest "long term effect" on BYU's offense during the next 3 to 5 years. Don't be surprised if Harris goes early to the NFL as well. Why? He reminds me of a combination of Deion Sanders and Barry Sanders. Surprisingly, even for myself, I'm not exaggerating. This kid is unreal.
As you may recall, several months ago I wrote an article on how I thought BYU could do well to recruit basketball point guards (6-0 to 6-3 range) that also happens to play football and convert them to full time football skill players (receivers, defensive backs or linebackers). Well, Harris is the first in this category and I hope not the last.
Harris is very fast, elusive, hard to tackle with just arms, and has incredibly 'soft hands' with only one year of varsity experience in football. He's a 'natural' athlete. He would have 'soft hands' if he played basketball, football or shortstop for the Giants. He just has 'it'. Again, his leaping ability stands out. He has to have at least a 37-inch vertical. No way he sits this year or redshirts. I don't know how Crowton could resist not putting the ball in Harris' hands early and often. If my job was on the line, I'd be making sure Harris touched the ball at least 5 or 6 times a game.
I see Harris returning punts as well. Harris will become like a drug to Crowton: "Antwaun, get in the game and give us all a 'fix.'
Griffin does not have Watkins' speed or moves, but has good 'vertical' speed after the first 10 yards. Most --importantly, Griffin uses his size, 6-3 and 215 pounds, and lankiness to take cornerbacks out of the play by 'leveraging' his body to the ball. He will also be a great blocker on bubble screens. If Griffin gets one step to the inside or outside of the cornerback and the ball is delivered on time, forget it. The only way typically shorter cornerbacks get to the ball before Griffin is if they somehow manage to get in front of Griffin. I see Crowton going to Griffin often in the red and end zone.
The film on Morris was not the best quality with 20 plays or so. He looks to be a smaller version of Joe Griffin, but slightly faster. He has good hands and knows how to use his body to get to the ball. He's another great leaper.
A younger version of Michael Morris, but slightly taller. My guess is Crowton redshirts Reed. He runs very precise routes for a high school receiver. He is also a great leaper.
A real nice surprise. Weber is wiry, but can take the heat. Very good at going across the middle and coming up with the ball. Excellent hands. Tough as nails. The surprise is Weber's jukability. Although his 4.5/4.6 speed is adequate, his 'jukability' is what gets him open and provides additional missed tackles for extra yards. Another surprise is Weber's leaping ability. Most balls that might sail higher from Beck/Berry/Beck this season have a much higher likelihood of being caught. I believe the leaping and improved pass-catching ability of our new receivers will increase passing percentage by at least 10-15 percentage.
TotalBlueSports.com managing editor, Jedd Parkinson, is working on TBS' recruit DVD and has seen Austin Collie's highlight tape. This was his first-run impression: "Wow. I just finished watching the rest of the Collie highlight tape. He looks like a bigger, faster version of CFL All-Pro Ben Cahoon. He's going to be a very special player. Almost half of his 60 catches were touchdowns. He's amazing!"
Where do you play this great "find?" Bennett could play Cougarback or Katback or outside linebacker. My guess is he ends up at the Katback position. He's fast with great short bursts. He also has good fundamental Texas-bred tackling ability. A smart player that is always around the ball.
After watching his film, I now understand why he had a sick number of tackles this past season (158 tackles, I think) and was junior college First Team All-American. He tackles like a wrestler. Once he gets his mitts on you, forget it; you're going down. He has a good short burst of speed and he's a big mauler type linebacker. Think Paul Walkenhorst, but faster.
Kick returns will be fun to watch the next four years at BYU. Mathis is a shorter version of Antwaun Harris. I see Mathis on some specially-designed offensive plays like misdirection, reverses, etc. He's strong for his size. Mama Mathis says he's up to 180 pounds now. B.J. played at 160 pounds his senior season, so should be even better come August.
I don't see him starting over Nathan Soelberg or Brandon Heaney at this point. But I also don't see coaches redshirting him since depth at cornerback is questionable. Has good speed and quickness. He needs work taking the passing lane or angles away from receivers. He relies too much on speed and quickness to make plays. At the next level, he will need more 'smarts' to be a starting cornerback. With Bronco Mendenhall and Brian Mitchell's help, he will be an excellent cornerback his junior and senior years.
Lovely played out of position as a 205-pound defensive end rather than linebacker. He has good vertical speed, but needs to improve lateral speed. He needs to gain at least 15 to 20 pounds and increase lateral speed to start at LB at BYU. Lovely has sound tackling skills. I see coaches redshirting Lovely to teach him the linebacker role while he gains more weight and work more on lateral movement skills.
Feula reminds me a lot of Daniel Marquardt or a near clone. That is good news. The film I saw on Feula did not reveal many, if any, double teams blocking him. He is not the caliber of a healthy Manaia Brown, but he's not far behind.
Beck reminds me of Utah quarterback Alex Smith, but he's faster. He is very good at recognizing an opening. He's also an adequate passer, but good runner. I like that he's a "heady" player with Ty Detmer-type attitude.
He's a great athlete. A fullback/linebacker returning punts? His natural position will definitely be at linebacker. He's has a good quick burst and a great nose for the ball. A good wrestling-type tackler, I see BYU redshirting Turner because of BYU's current depth at linebacker.
A great overall athlete. Mugleston has great leaping ability and sure hands. I see him definitely playing defensive back for the Cougars. I like his "ranginess" and see him as a future Cougarback.
Bower will be a great one. He looks bigger, faster and quicker than I expected. He can run, has great arm strength and excellent accuracy. He can also fling the ball accurately and with good velocity on the run. At 6-4 and 225 pounds, Bower is a right-handed version of Ben Olson. He has quicker feet than I expected.
The Sweetest Surprise of the 2004 Recruiting Class:
Wow! When you see almost every ball carrier's head whip back when hit by Nelson, you know you have a real hitter' in the bag. When a play starts, Nelson looks like he's moving slowly laterally. But, after watching a few plays, you understand he's quickly 'sizing up' the offensive play. When he sees where the play is going, watch out. He does NOT delay in closing on the ball carrier.
He has a very quick 'burst' to the ball and then "whack!" Opponents beware: You better tighten your helmet chin straps and get your upper and lower bite in place. Oh, while you're at it, get a neck brace ready as well! At 6-3 and 225 pounds, Nelson is brutal. I love him. He looks like a Butkus in the making.
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