Inside HTO's Film Room: Jeff Byers

Just what does the Iowa coaching staff see when they pop in a tape of a high school prospect and make their evaluations? What do they <i>really</i> look at -- what do they not pay that much attention to? Get a little insight with this Inside HTO's Film Room feature on the nation's top prospect, Jeff Byers.

Prospect name: Jeff Byers
Position: OC/OT//DT
Measurables: 6-4/270/4.8
High School (Hometown): Loveland HS (Loveland, Colo.)

Notes: The No. 1 overall prospect in the nation, according to TheInsiders.com, Byers took the last of his reported 13 unofficial visits over the summer in Iowa City in July and the former Dubuque resident said it was an enjoyable one (see Aug. 2003 Hawkeye Illustrated). National Recruiting Analyst Jamie Newberg called Byers "the best OL prospect I have ever seen." Along with Iowa, the likes of Notre Dame, Michigan, Oklahoma, Colorado, Nebraska, Texas, USC and UCLA have also offered and are all still in the running. If what the Shadow has heard is true, Byers might be visiting Iowa City for the Arizona State game on Sept. 20. The future Business major carries a 3.98 GPA and says academics will weigh heavily in his final college decision.

Let's go to the film…

Positives: Byers' body control, quick feet and power jump off the screen. Rockets out of his stance, plays low and with his pads out in front. Is so fast, sometimes nearly gets too far in front of the play when he pulls. Squares well and uses his power to drop linebackers and ends with ease. Shows accuracy and zip on snap in shotgun. Makes all line calls at LOS. Is a leader and a warrior on the field. Plays hard from whistle to whistle. Is an absolute bulldozer on inside running plays. Typically moves his guy 15 yards downfield. One of the most physically solid big high school kids that I have seen. His 270 pounds is as strapped together as most NFL players. Probably most impressive aspect of Byers is his body control; he's so quick and is always very balanced. As a DT, Byers sheds blocks and uses his hands very well. Handles double-teams easily. Expects to get to the ball on every play. Could play any position on either the OL or DL. Saw time at OC, LT, DT and DE as a junior and excelled at each. Outstanding student, driven and motivated young man.

Negatives: Will need to add another 20-30 pounds to be a "Big Ten" offensive lineman or certainly one who could play right away as a freshman. He looks a shade short for 6-4; might be closer to 6-2 ½ in his socks. Plays at a different speed and level than most of his teammates and opponents, which will actually create an adjustment challenge for him at the next level.

Summary: Believe me, folks. Offensive linemen aren't always the easiest guys to evaluate as college prospects (see Blake Larson), so when guys like Jamie Newberg tell you that Byers is the top overall prospect in the country this year, he is that special. Don't just think about a "big guy who can move" – picture a 270-pound athlete who looks like an even more rock-solid version of Rulon Gardner in shoulder pads. Byers does everything he does better than any other player I've seen on film this year. Overall rating*: (5.0 scale) 4.98.

Next time in the Film Room we'll train our eyeballs on perhaps the second-biggest fish in the Hawkeyes' recruiting sea this year – OLB Kyle "Bonecrusher" Williams of Bolingbrook HS (Ill.).

(Ratings key: 5.0=Top national prospect at his position; 4.0=Very good Big Ten prospect; 3.0=Lower Big Ten prospect; 2.0=More likely a MAC, I-AA or invited walk-on prospect; 1.0 Marginal walk-on possibility.)

Prep sports and recruiting expert Jamie DeMoney is nearing his 10th year in the industry. As a recruiting analyst and video coordinator for The Forbes Report, DeMoney observes and evaluates many of the nation's top football prospects. He also researches and ranks the nation's top high school football and basketball teams for the National Prep Poll – the nation's second-oldest high school rankings service and the only rankings syndicated to newspapers by the Associated Press. DeMoney's other credits include contributor and managing editor of American Football Monthly, editor of Gridiron Greats recruiting yearbook, and a doing play-by-play high school sports for KCJJ-AM in Iowa City.


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