DAMASCUS, Md. -- Damascus has always been a rich talent pool for college football coaches. Jalen Christian, a 2015 athlete, already has 18 offers, and the Terps are right near the top. Christian's season came to an abrupt end Nov. 15 with Damascus losing to Urbana, 35-34, in the first round of the Maryland State playoffs. But the multipurpose athlete racked up 110 yards rushing, 89 yards receiving, had a 42-yard kick return and a 35 yard punt return and scored two touchdowns.
TT caught up with Christian after the loss and talked about his game and his view on the Terps and the recruiting process.
To be blunt, Damascus 2015 prospect Jalen Christian is a heck of an athlete. He can run with power or be elusive. He can catch the football in traffic, and he can pile on the yards after the catch in space. He's got that "something special" that
you can't coach. His knack for finding ways to get his hands on the ball when things break down is phenomenal.
Christian is one of those players that, as a college coach, you get him signed and then find a place for him to line up.
The 5-10, 173-pounder isn't a classic combine player. He doesn't seem to have blazing straight-line speed, he's not a prolific route runner, and he won't wow you with his picture perfect technique. But he does have a high football IQ, and he flat out understands how to get himself into position to make big plays.
To date, Christian has 18 offers from all of the familiar schools that roam in the Baltimore/Washington metro area. And, being just a junior, he's surely going to attract a lot more in the next year.
While Maryland seems to be interested in his abilities as a corner, other schools like him running and catching the football.
Terrapin Times has seen Christian twice this season, once early on against perennial power Quince Orchard and again Nov. 15 in the playoffs against Urbana. Both times, he had very little impact as a corner.
He was never really challenged against Urbana, and he just never got a chance to show off his defensive prowess that interests schools like Maryland.
That said, his technique on defense needs work. He seems to get back on his heels and rarely alters the routes while trying to defend the pass. Several times he allowed the receiver to dictate to him the route to run and he wasn't effective using his hands and exceptional footwork to keep the receivers from pushing him around.
As a corner, he likes to play underneath and rely on his closing speed, something that could hinder him at the next level because he won't always have superior speed over the wideouts.
Not to say that Christian doesn't have what it takes to be a dominating pass defender. He just needs more work and coaching.
Christian is definitely a playmaker. He lined up this season at the slot, out wide, at running back and even took the center snap. He often goes in motion from the wing and is used as a decoy and as a ball carrier on the move. Christian showed that he can lower his shoulder and run in confined space. Plus he can explode off of the edge for big gainers.
Christian is sneaky explosive. He has that natural ability to be patient with his blockers and pick the right hole to explode through at the precise time. He understands how to set up his blockers to his advantage.
As a receiver, Christian doesn't run disciplined routes. He seems to kind of roam and find the seam and space in the zones. It works well at the high school level but would definitely not be effective at the college level.
To his credit, he understands space and flow and can help quarterbacks by getting open when plays break down.
As a specialist, Christian is an outstanding kick and punt returner. He's a downhill runner who rarely gambles running east and west. He can get skinny and slip through the cracks or he can create his own space to grind out the tough yards.
Christian would be a great get for the Terps and could definitely be the kind of player that Stefon Diggs is in terms of his versatility on both sides of the ball and on special teams.
Right now, Christian is a four-star player that could be elevated to five stars with a little more seasoning and better technique.
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