MECHANICSBURG, Pa. -- Cedar Cliff (Pa.) safety Mike Viti has flown under the radar in recruiting circles, but the Terps took a chance on him. On Oct. 9, TT headed to central Pennsylvania to take a look at what the 6-foot, 175-pound free safety has to offer the Maryland football program for the next four or five years. After Cedar Cliff destroyed Mechanicsburg's homecoming, 63-27, Viti talked about his game and his commitment level to Maryland in the video above. A scouting report and photo gallery are below:
Talk about a statement play, right off of the bat. On Mike Viti’s first chance to make a defensive play against Mechanicsburg, he hit the kick returner near the sideline and knocked him some eight yards into the Wildcats' bench. After the play, he showed very little emotion running to Cedar Cliff’s defensive huddle.
From that play, Viti played with an air of tenacity that was unexpected. As a receiver he caught everything thrown at him and used his cat quick moves to the tune of 127 yards on eight catches. Viti’s career-high pass-catching night included a score, a 48-yard catch-and-run and a play where he had to outleap two pass defenders to haul in a 16-yarder.
When Viti’s number wasn’t called on offense he impacted the play with outstanding downfield blocking that’s rarely seen among high schoolers. Viti has a passion for the game that definitely shows.
When Viti lined up to return kicks and punts, Mechanicsburg opted to squib kick and punt out of bounds. But he found his own way to make an impact with several vicious blocks from the receiver and the kick-return position.
As a free safety, well, he had to create his own excitement. It appeared that the Mechanicsburg offense was geared to run and throw away from the 6-foot, 175-pound Maryland commitment. With that said, Viti seemed like a man on a mission, as he routinely crossed the field to snuff out ball carriers and receivers for nine tackles and a pass breakup. Viti was simply a ball-hawking beast.
He’s definitely a big hitter, one that compares to former Terp Matt Robinson. And his slender build resembles that of ex-UMD receiver Danny Oquendo.
In terms of his speed, Viti doesn’t wow you running straight line, but he can close on passes. He has a fast first step, possesses fairly loose hips, and has the lateral quicks that allow him to cover the flats from side-to-side. He gets downhill in a hurry, planting his foot hard and then firing forward. Moreover, his vision is impeccable in terms of finding the ball and filling the holes.
Viti also shows the ability to play centerfield in both zone and cover-two schemes. Plus he can press at the line occasionally to stop both the quarterback and the backs on option plays. On one particular play, he forced the pitch and then ran down the back for minimal gain.
And while Viti doesn’t have standout athleticism, his football IQ compensates for it. He just seems to put himself in the right position to make plays
Because only a couple of pass plays were thrown in his direction, it was hard to evaluate Viti’s cover skills. He does like to cover inside-out, ride the hip and rely on his closing speed and expansive wing-span. But in high school, he just doesn’t get many opportunities to showcase those skills.
He did pick up an interception when the quarterback was flushed from the pocket and threw up a duck. But, hey, being the opportunists that he is, Viti went high and made the play.
As good of a player that Viti seems to be, there are still areas where he can improve. The first is to be a sounder tackler. Yes, his initial contact is often explosive, but he needs to learn to wrap and drive through the ball-carrier. Big hits alone won’t be good enough at the power-five level.
Also, since he lacks straight-line speed, he may have problems recovering and offering over-the-top help. He isn't tested much now, so we'll see how he reacts when pitted against FBS receivers down the field.
And while Viti showed solid change-of-direction on offense, it remains to be seen whether he can switch on and off receivers and break down in space of defense. His short-area quickness may not be up to par, while his footwork may not be deft enough to deal with top-flight college wideouts.