Indianapolis (Ind.) Lawrence Central 2015 middle linebacker Darrin Kirkland
Josh’s take: Kirkland had an very impressive first day at The Opening. The future Wolverine was easily one of the top-three linebackers in attendance, if not the best. At 6-foot-2, 230-pounds, he moves fluidly for his size and won the majority of his one-on-one drills. He closes on the ball well and doesn’t get deceived easily. In the passing drills he held his own too. Michigan got a good one with Kirkland and I suspect him to continue his strong showing throughout the week.
Sam’s take: The Hoosier State star was outstanding on day one. The Opening offered Kirkland another opportunity to show both his impressive lateral and stop-start quickness. Those traits made him particularly effective in the open field drill during which linebackers are charged with placing a two-hand touch on a running back before getting juked out of their socks. Kirkland didn’t wait on ball-carriers to come to him like many of the other backers, opting instead to attack under control and trust his ability to recover if the running back tried to side-step him. By the time drill ended the Michigan commit had established himself as one of the top five linebackers on day one.
Salt Lake City (Utah) Brighton 2015 outside linebacker Osa Masina
Josh’s take: At 6-foot-4, 210-pounds, Masina looks the part of an outside backer. He moves well for his size and get to the ball ease. He will need to add weight in the future, and should with his athletic frame. Masina didn’t dazzle in the one-one-one, but was solid. He comes to work. He also looked good in the pass coverage drills. He should be able to showcase better in the 7v7 drills later this week.
Sam’s take: Masina possesses one of the highest ceilings of any linebacker in attendance. He is still physically immature and will add considerable muscle to his frame in the coming years. If/when he does the result could be a more explosive player that could conceivably play any of the linebacker positions or maybe even grow into a rush end. On day one of The Opening he showed flashes of skill coaches are salivating over… especially his exceedingly good change of direction for his size. At the same time he is still raw in his technique and at times got caught taking improper angles to the football. Good coaching will take care of that. With Masina it’s all about his upside. On the recruiting front he indicated he will trim his list from eight to five shortly after returning home from Oregon. He also revealed that distance will likely play more of a roll in his final decision than he once thought, but that it wouldn’t be an overriding factor.
Orange (Calif.) Lutheran 2015 defensive end Keisean Lucier-South
Josh’s take: The five-star talent is very athletic and moves well, however, he is only 6-foot-4, 210-pounds and will need to add more weight to play on the line on college. He might eventually move over to linebacker in college as well. Either way, he has the talent to help out a college roster. He also had a solid performance in the one-on-ones. He was playing mostly from left end, he usually plays from the right side in high school. Overall, a nice day from Lucier-South.
Sam’s take: With Lucier-South it’s all about the get-off. He has great first step quickness and once he gets even with a tackle trying to block him you might as well chalk it up as an ole to the quarterback. However, if the tackle can get his hands on KLS with a good punch or by getting into his chest, say good night… the part is over. Because he is only 211 pounds currently, Lucier-South got pushed around at times. That-said, this is a youngster with a great deal of physical growth in his future. With one more high school season and a possible redshirt after that, a 250-plus pound Lucier-South is going to be a much more formidable foe.
Long Beach (Calif.) Polytechnic 2015 cornerback Iman Marshall
Sam’s take: Physical, physical, physical, and more physical. Did I mention Marshall is physical? The Long Beach (Calif.) Poly star flat out mauls receivers at the line of scrimmage, then mauls them some more when they come off the line. Along the way he displays great hip fluidity when it’s time to turn and run. He also possesses good quickness and a knack for making plays when the ball is in the air. He lacks big time speed, so if a receiver gets on top of him the gap probably won’t be closed. But Marshall knows that and on a couple of occasions made the really smart choice to give the receiver a little tug to hinder his progress. A 15 yard penalty is always better than a big play. The kid just knows how to play corner and isn’t the definite future safety some predict him to be.
Greensboro (N.C.) Northern Guilford 2015 cornerback Mook Reynolds
Sam’s take: It wasn’t the strongest day for the Virginia Tech commit. He didn’t get as physical with receivers as some of the other defensive backs, and that often left him at a disadvantage in coverage. Free releases and double moves allowed wide outs to create separation, and while Reynolds looks to have good speed, it wasn’t good enough to close some of the big gaps that were achieved. A tough first day, but still plenty of time to bounce back. On the recruiting front Reynolds has been one of Alex Malzone’s top targets thus far. The two appear to have established a little bit of a rapport. That turned into a mini challenge during the one-one session. Malzone won round one, drilling a completion.