BLADENSBURG, Md. -- Wise (Upper Marlboro, Md.) traveled to Bladensburg Oct. 29, and Terrapin Times was on hand to scout and interview 2018 Pumas’ athlete A.J. Lytton. The 5-foot-11, 170-pounder holds numerous offers, including Clemson, FSU, Georgia, Nebraska, Penn State, Wisconsin and Maryland.
Our take on his game is below, while an interview can be seen above:
Lytton is one of the most electrifying 2018 athletes in the DMV, although he projects as a defensive back in college. Regardless of position, the 4.47 40-yard-dash speedster is a sought-after recruit who should be able to impact a program soon after arriving on campus. Lytton has the rare ability to play either field corner or slot corner given his speed, size, instincts and athleticism.
Physically, Lytton has solid size and is still growing, so he could be 6-feet-plus by the time he’s a senior. But even if he’s below that 6-0 threshold, Lytton has an above-average wingspan given his long arms. He also possesses an outstanding 40-plus-inch vertical, which allows him to rise up with some of the tallest receivers around.
Lytton can operate in both zone and press coverage, but it’s in the latter where the Wise athlete separates himself. At the snap, he’s quick off the ball and immediately thrusts his hands up to engage the wideout. Lytton actively works to disrupt the route and throw off the receiver/quarterback timing.
Once the wideout enters his pattern, Lytton shows the ability to stick to his man’s inside hip. He’s loose, flexible and has deft feet, all of which aid him when turning and running. Lytton has excellent short-area quickness too, evidenced by his ability to change direction and readjust to a particular route on a dime.
Down the field, Lytton uses his straight-line speed to run stride for stride with a wideout. In fact, he has the wheels and acceleration to recover even if he’s beaten by a step. That lets Lytton gamble in press coverage, as most high school receivers don’t have the raw speed to take the Wise corner to task.
When the ball is in air, Lytton shows plus in-the-air skills. He’s active up top, routinely out-leaping receivers for jump balls. Lytton high points, rising up like he’s the intended target, and then uses his strong hands and wide catch radius to come down with the pick. He also possesses very good body control, allowing him to make the tough grab.
In zone, Lytton flashes a smooth, tight backpedal and stays low. He rarely crosses his steps, even when transitioning. Indeed, Lytton shows the ability to seamlessly get in and out of his breaks, with little to no wasted movement.
But Lytton truly excels at diagnosing and anticipating patterns. He has a knack for reading quarterbacks and picking up on “tells,” often giving him a step advantage. Lytton possesses a rapid-fire first step, which, combined with his instincts, let him jump routes.
To improve, Lytton mainly needs to bulk up and muscle to his frame. Right now, he’s rather lithe and can get overpowered by stronger wideouts and bigger backs out on the edge.
Speaking of running backs in space, Lytton must shore up his tackling as well. He’ll willingly stick his nose in a pile, but he’s been known to give up some leaky yardage.
Moreover, Lytton has to continue refining his technique, namely his hand placement on jams. He also has to take tighter closing angles when cutting across field or moving in for a tackle.
Additionally, Lytton has to learn how to plant his foot, drive off of it and then burst forward. He tends to glide around, and we'd like to see him really stick his foot and use that momentum to undercut patterns.
Lastly, Lytton has to be careful when attempting to read quarterbacks. Lytton can get away with peaking into the backfield in high school, but at the next level he might get burned when signal callers attempt to bait him.