It was a big weekend on the Plains as Auburn Tiger football added some in-state talents to its class of 2018. The surprise of the group to make a verbal commitment was surely Kolbi Fuqua, the Cordova (Ala.) High School standout who few in the recruiting world knew much about prior to the pledge.
Playing both sides of the ball at Cordova, Auburn has informed the rising senior that he is being recruited at both wide receiver and safety at this time. Like many programs will do in the near future, Scout will be curious to see and learn more of the 6-foot-2, 207-pound talent.
Listed as an athlete at this early juncture, Scout takes a closer look at what Fuqua brings to the table.
Versatility is used to describe plenty of athletes these days, but Fuqua really embodies the phrase. He does it literally by lining up at wide receiver, returner, running back, defensive back and more, but more importantly he displays the traits of a versatile athlete who really can find a home on either side of the football. His easiest to see strengths, like size and body control, can translate to production at wide receiver, defensive back or linebacker at the next level.
From the offensive perspective, Fuqua has the look of a steady possession target who can overpower smaller defensive backs in addition to being too quick for linebacker types to handle. He is efficient in his route-running with a long stride to make up ground in a hurry despite a lack of top-end speed. Fuqua can finish the play with strong hands and ball skills through traffic and at difficult angles at times. After the catch, he can play with physicality and a knack for getting north and south after hauling in the ball, again highlighting his efficiency or a lack of wasted movement before or after the reception.
That efficiency helps Fuqua on the other side of the football, too. Defenders needs to have an even better understanding of angles and movement to make plays depending on their responsibility, which helps any tackler. As a cover man, it seems as if the Cordova High staff allows him to float and make plays with his understanding of the route tree and ball skills. The previously noted physicality translates well on defense, too.
Areas For Improvement
With the versatility being a major strength for Fuqua, naturally his polish at any one position will be somewhat lacking at this juncture. Wide receiver is where he seems most comfortable today, but his lack of speed on the big frame makes the position seem less likely to be in his future at the SEC level compared to other potential positions. On tape he uses his body control and ball skills to make plays down the field, not his speed. Fuqua, who clocked a 4.95 in the 40-yard dash during The Opening Atlanta last month, has counters to the lack of explosion to make up for the matter as discussed above.
Depending on the position he is to eventually play, the technique Fuqua will need to acquire will also be a major focus at the next level. For example, if he were to play on offense at AU, he would actually need to improve on his strength of route-running and efficiency to the point that it would be a calling card of his in addition to his frame and ball skills. There is a place for possession targets in every passing offense, though his climb to perfect the craft will be the difference in how productive he could be against SEC defenders. Should he end up on that side of the football, it's nearly the same situation. Fuqua would need to simply spend more time working on explosion to build on his strengths of efficiency and consistency.
On Scout, Fuqua will remain an 'athlete' by name, but defense is the side of the football looking to make most sense at this time. An outside linebacker or in the box defensive back is most fitting at this time although a pass-catching role, maybe even as an H-back, may be the next most logical part of the discussion going forward. This helps make the Auburn addition one of the most intriguing prospects to follow in the summer and fall. Surely, a long frame like his can stand to hold more weight down the road no matter what side of the football he ends up on, something he can do at north of 220 pounds at the next level. Fuqua is a jack-of-all-trades type at the prep level, something we have seen plenty of in Alabama over the years. As has been the case with most, Fuqua will need to eventually focus on one position before we see him get anywhere close to his ceiling as a football player. With time and many options on Auburn's side, it's a great situation for all involved.