Prospect Evaluation #7: Shittu & Martinez

As we start down the final stretch of the 2012 recruiting cycle and with LOI signing day just two weeks away, the Cardinal's defensive dominoes are starting to fall. For Stanford fans, they can't fall soon enough in the singular path of one-time verbal DL Aziz Shittu. While most of the remaining whales appear to be OL, the now-admitted Shittu remains the biggest question mark on the board.

Prospect Evaluation #8: DT Aziz Shittu & LB Blake Martinez

Aziz Shittu, DT/DE  6'3" 275 lbs (Buhach Colony High School, Atwater, CA)

 

Scout.com Ratings – 4*, #9 DT

 

Rivals Ratings – 5*, 6.1/6.1, #3 DT, #27 National Prospect, #5 Prospect in California

 

ESPN Ratings – 4*, 80/100, #16 DT, #23 Regional Prospect, #16 Prospect in California, No National Ranking


Rating the Ratings

Rivals is the outlier among the major recruiting sites' evaluations of Aziz Shittu, as they have had him listed as a five-star ever since his terrific showing at the 2011 Los Angeles Nike Camp. However, all three services hold the Merced county defensive lineman in very high regard.  By consensus, Shittu is one of the top defensive linemen in the entire country. The Rivals ratings might be a little high, but perhaps they can be justified by his outstanding production on the field and his strong showing in the U.S. Army All-American game earlier this month.


Evaluation

Aziz Shittu's quickness and athleticism are his best weapons, which is something that can rarely be said about a 275-pound defensive lineman with a build as stout as Shittu's. His finesse game is excellent and well-suited for a 3-4 defensive end given his size. Shittu uses his quickness to get penetration off the snap against the run. His athleticism allows him to run around blocks at times and still make a play on the ball carrier.  Shittu does a great job of keeping the correct pad level when engaging linemen, which allows him to use his strength to control them and disengage.  He is a defensive lineman with a very good motor and is excellent at pursuit down the line.  He appears to re-direct well after disengaging, and uses impressive short-area quickness and speed to track down smaller and quicker running backs.  His acceleration is very impressive for a player his size. 

 

As a pass rusher, Shittu gets to half a man quickly and makes good use of his rip move. Sometimes, he looks more like a running back, as he shakes and jab steps his way past pass protectors.  He has shown a spin move that he could develop more once he gets into college camp.  It would be a great compliment to his initial burst at the snap of the ball and short-area speed.  He already uses his hands well, so he can be expected to build quite an arsenal of pass rush moves in college to go along with the quickness and athleticism that he already displays. His style against top competition has fared better on the outside as an end than as a defensive tackle. He will need to use more refined technique to handle top interior offensive lineman when he has less space in which to operate. 


Projection

Shittu is a special defensive line prospect who could well end up as a defensive end if he decides to come to The Farm. His ability to penetrate and pursue should get him on the field as a freshman, because his size is already "college-worthy". Shittu projects to be the type of player who will end up making many more tackles that what is usually expected of a defensive lineman. After he masters a wider variety of technique, he could see time as an inside pass rusher in third-down situations.

 

_____________________________

 

Blake Martinez, ILB  6'2" 235lbs (Canyon del Oro High School, Tuscon, AZ)

 

Scout,com Ratings – 3*, #33 MLB

 

Rivals Ratings – 3*, 5.6/6.1, #39 ILB, No National Ranking, No State Ranking

 

ESPN Ratings – 3*, 76/100, #32 ILB, #142 Regional Prospect, #16 Prospect in Arizona, No National Ranking


Rating the Ratings

Martinez' ratings and rankings all see him as a mid-range 3-star prospect, which equates to a solid FBS player.  There is not much discrepancy at all between the services and the following evaluation pretty much falls in line with their views.


Evaluation

Blake Martinez is a very well-sized inside linebacker prospect who has a very good instincts and tackling skills. His instincts are highlighted in situations in which he needs to find the ball near the line of scrimmage.  He "plays through the trash" very well, finding the ball carrier through an obstacle course filled with battling players, opposing linemen and sometimes his own teammates.  He has a great feel for when to take on opponents' blocks head-on and when to run around the block directly to the ball carrier.  Once he finds the ball carrier, Martinez can deliver a powerful strike.  He has good body position when tackling which enables him to generate power through his hips and stop a ball carrier's momentum and drive him back without building any momentum of his own. 

 

The big questions for Martinez in college will be lateral pursuit and pass coverage. He does show some good ball skills which will help him as a pass defender.  However, what is not seen on his video is whether he can flip his hips and accelerate to drop into a zone or change direction to mirror a receiver.  He will also need to show more acceleration in pursuit of plays to the outside.  He does a good job of it at points on his highlight video, but that skill is one that that he will need to exhibit more often on the college level.


Projection

Martinez' already shows the ability to be a very good inside run defender. Whether he ends up contributing early in his career at Stanford will depend on how well he shows he can pursue sideline to sideline and play against the pass.  He has flashed some abilities to do just that. How well he shows in his freshman camp could be a good indicator as to which route his career will go. As things stand, given Stanford's current depth chart at the inside linebacker position, Martinez' best case scenario will probably be some spot duty in his third year which could lead to an entrance into the battle for his starting position in his last one or two years.

 


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