To put it politely, Clemson has had its difficulties in finding impact personnel at linebacker over the past few recruiting cycles. The Tigers came up just short in successive classes for a stud headhunter as they ended up a bridesmaid for the services of Jerrell Harris to hometown favorite Alabama and then lost a year long lead for one of the best in the nation in the form of Jarvis Jones after the firing of Tommy Bowden. Clemson has made do the past few years with converted safeties and serviceable players that have developed into decent linebackers, but has struggled to find a leader at linebacker. With a new coaching philosophy in place and young talent on the way, the Tigers are positioned to buck that trend, and Christian could play a sizeable role in that transition.
Christian flew under the radar for much of the early recruiting process, receiving little attention from programs, outside of the two instate schools. However, after a thorough evaluation and a strong showing at Clemson's summer Tommy Bowden Camp, Quandon garnered an offer from his favorite school and committed on the spot.
A two-way standout, Christian starred for Lake View at both linebacker and running back. As is the case with most two-way stars, Quandon's best and most obvious asset is his pure athleticism. He possesses excellent fast-twitch ability and has an explosive first step, whether it is knifing through blockers to make the tackle or making a decisive cut up field with the ball. Although he shows adequate potential carrying the ball due to his sheer athletic ability, his future is on the defensive side of the ball.
Quandon is blessed with the aptitude to temper his natural ability with football instincts. While this may seem a somewhat obvious observation, there are many athletes that play football, but it is far rarer to find the football player that is also a great athlete. Christian has a great instinctual feel for the game, often playing more by feel than fundamentals. Considering how raw and relatively low his football IQ is, Christian makes a ton of plays on the field, always seeming to be around the ball. This so-called "nose" for the ball is an attribute that can't be coached. Quandon is, most simply put, a football player.
The definition of a rangy frame, Christian played his high school ball at a little over 200 lbs. While weighing nearly as much as some of the current Tiger counterparts (both McDaniel and Cooper were little more than two bills this past season at linebacker), he looked all arms and legs and quite skinny. His lanky frame will allow him to play in the 230 to 240 pound range without losing any of speed or agility. He already utilizes his long build to cover tremendous ground and is a true sideline to sideline force with the ability to chase even the most far-reaching of plays down.
Quandon Christian was ranked as the No. 19 strong side linebacker prospect in the nation in the 2009 recruiting class according to Scout.com. (Roy Philpott/CUTigers.com)
Something that is rare to see in most high school backers is Quandon's willingness to attack. Rather than wait for plays to come to him, he attacks with reckless abandon, playing downhill, disrupting plays behind the line. Once again, it is a vital necessity for Christian to learn a more fundamentally sound approach. While he will make a great tackle for loss on one play, he'll over run and find himself completely out of the play on the next. His straight line speed to the ball is very good for a defender of his size, but his redirection and lateral agility is average at best. He must learn his assignments and learn to play more within his position in a team scheme to prevent leaving the rest of his unit out to dry by trying to make the spectacular play every time.
MY PERSONAL RATING: Highest three-star possible. Tremendous frame, great athletic ability, and wonderful football instincts are all on the four star level, but a lack of technique, understanding of the game, and a general unpolished feel keep him from that status. He will get a long look at SAM this summer and may even earn playing time, but redshirting would be the best thing for him. I would liken him to an OLB version of the Tigers own Brandon Maye: with a year to learn assignments and technique and a year of dedication to the weight room to get up to 235 lbs. filling out his lanky frame, Christian has Freshman All-American potential in his redshirt freshman year.