There is something to be said for the stereotypical lineman. On offense in particular, it's a certain height, a certain weight and you can find yourself pigeonholed at a position in college before you even arrive.
At 6-6, Lincoln Southwest lineman Baker Steinkuhler already broke the mold a bit, Scout.com projecting him to play inside on the offensive line rather than tackle, a position most figure him to play simply due to his size.
You can do that with someone like Steinkuhler, who combines an ideal frame with better than ideal quickness.
Freakish, to be honest
Anyone who can reel off a 4.71, weighing close to 300 pounds as Steinkuhler did at a Nebraska camp this summer, is bound to be described in those rather extreme terms. But he's earned it, and you don't need All-State, Super-State or even All-American honors to know.
The guy is a freak.
"With Baker, he's such a freak, he's got everything to play anywhere you want to put him, and that's on either side of the line," Midwest recruiting analyst Greg Powers said. "He's a special situation when it comes to doing that. I don't think there are a whole lot of guys you could just throw anywhere on the line and on either side, and he'd still be an impact guy."
Again, all this was pretty much common knowledge coming in of Steinkuhler, son to Dean Steinkuhler, still to this day considered to be one of the greatest college football linemen of all-time. He was ranked on offense, and that was pretty much the thought.
Then he got down to San Antonio .
As preparations continue for the annual U.S. Army All-American game, Steinkuhler found himself on defense, lined up both outside and on the interior. Steinkuhler was obviously a two-way standout at Southwest, but he wasn't facing players like he normally saw in Class A football here in Nebraska . He was facing some of the very best players at their position in the entire country. Powers said that what he did against players like that, surprised even him. "Coming down into this week, I always thought Baker was going to be an offensive lineman. We saw the film, looked at what he did well and that seemed like a great fit," he said. "The more I have seen him down here, though, especially when you are talking about having a player that is a real impact guy, I think he may change all of our minds."
Steinkuhler (left) in practices in San
Antonio, as they prepare for the
Against players like top 10 tackle J.B. Shugarts, Powers said this is where Steinkuhler shone. There was no reason to expect that a player rated as an offensive guard, could hold up and compete with one of the best offensive tackles around. But Baker did just that, according to Powers, showing in person both yesterday and this morning, that he's got the stuff to get it done. "He used his hands really well and I know we are saying it a lot about him, but you have to – he's a flat out freak," Powers said. "He just can do so much athletically at his size, he is going to give anyone a hard time trying to stop him.
"Another thing I really liked about it, which you don't often see with someone this gifted, he's a heady player and he really knows what's going on around him. That makes him about as complete a package as you can find."
Powers will concede that it's early in the practice schedule and he doesn't believe he's seen everything Steinkuhler has to offer as of yet. But what he's seen he's liked the more he's seen him in person. That's why one of the top rated offensive linemen in the country could be exclusively on the defensive side for the actual game this weekend. And as Power sees it, especially when you are looking at the future for this prep star, that could be just where he's ideally suited to play.
"He's certainly changed the way I looked at him, and I already had him rated as one of the best offensive linemen in the country. And Baker has done nothing so far to take away from it," he said. "Baker is a special player. He's got a good motor, and I honestly think we might be looking at him at the prime position for him in the future.
"It's hard to say at this point. It's early and we'll have to see how the game goes. But the kid's a freak, that's for sure. From where I am standing, that kid is definitely a five star player."