Matt Alkire Film Review: Playmakers

Irish Eyes film expert Matt Alkire takes time to review three players the Irish are recruiting, and another player that could be a prospect down the line. Mark Barnes, Arrelious Benn, Greg Little and Armando Allen all go under Alkire's microscope for review.

Matthew Alkire is the co-founder of Scout's Notebook, which primarily focuses on the scouting of NFL prospects before they enter the draft. Matt has received training from an NFL scout and is responsible for the Big 10, Big East, Big 12, MAC, MWC and Independents as well as any other major I-A, II-A,II, III and NAIA prospects. You can join their website for free at www.scoutsnotebook.com .

Mark Barnes

When I first heard of Mark Barnes it was from one of his former coaches at Richland Northeast while I attempted to get some first hand knowledge of Gary Gray's skill level. During that conversation the coach brought up another player who he felt had great athleticism and versatility in Mark Barnes. Here's a quote from a former coach on Mark and what he brings to the table:

"Mark moves well in and out of breaks, and can make pretty plays on the sideline on in the corner of the end zone. He has great body control and can out-muscle and out-jump multiple defenders to make a go-to play. His recognition has improved at free safety, and he covers the deep ball well." – Richland Northeast coach Joe Baird

Barnes brings good size to the table at 6-foot-2, 195 pounds and shows good muscle tone throughout his body. The most impressive thing I saw was his ability to locate the ball, position his body properly and snatch it out of the air at its highest point in jump ball situations. He showed the body control to not only adjust well to poorly thrown balls, but make impressive catches in the back of the end zone and near the sidelines while keeping himself in the field of play.

Mark doesn't look to have elite speed, however he is quick-footed and can be elusive enough to pick up solid yards after the catch. Because of his size he also breaks tackles well in the open field and will fight through contact for extra yardage. I think that Mark will need to work on catching the ball with his hands away from his pads more consistently to become a more complete player.

With another year at the safety position under his belt, I wonder if Barnes will develop into an elite safety prospect before all is said and done. While he did look a bit rough in his back pedal, he shows the athleticism to cover a lot of ground and the strength to come up and play the run when called upon, although he could work on his tackling. His size would definitely be a plus, and anytime you have a player in your defensive backfield that excels at playing the ball in the air, you have a great asset.

Arrelious Benn

Scout's No. 1-ranked wide receiver is an excellent physical specimen at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds. When I mention size with Benn, it's not just his measurables, but more the fact that he possesses the build of a 21-year-old man at his young age. Physically, he is a collegiate wide receiver the second he steps on campus.

Arrelious is a physical player, using his strength and size to breaks tackles in the open field, and as a result, picks up extra yardage on a consistent basis. He's quick-footed and shows the lateral quickness necessary to make plays with his feet after the catch. While you don't see elite speed watching Benn play, he is a long strider who can be a formidable deep threat at the next level and has an explosive first step.

In jump ball situations Benn does a nice job locating the ball and contorting his body to adjust and make the catch. I saw a physically dominant player reviewing his film, but also saw a kid who was still fighting for extra yards and doing the little things. As important as character is in the sport of football, it is always a good sign to see someone continue to challenge themselves even when they're clearly more talented then the competition.

This is a prospect who has the potential to be a game-changing player at the wide receiver position for whatever team he chooses to play for. As mentioned, he certainly has the size to step right onto the field and with the athleticism and talent I saw on tape, I wouldn't be surprised to see him in a starting rotation as a freshman.

Greg Little

This human Swiss Army knife could play running back, wide receiver, linebacker, safety or even build a telescope using a newspaper, a magnifying lens and a watch face if you needed him to.

Little's 6-foot-2, 215-pound frame lends itself more towards playing the wide receiver position now, however I'll go on record now for liking him as either a running back or linebacker at the collegiate level after watching his film. He certainly has the frame to add more weight, and with a proper workout regiment and diet I could see him adding another 15-20 pounds comfortably. He really has the look of an "SEC athlete".

The athleticism and strength that Greg showed at Athens NIKE camp (40-inch vertical leap, 29 strength reps, and 4.25 shuttle) definitely show up on tape. Little plays with power and uses his strength and size to break through tackles and fight for extra yardage as a ball carrier. He's a decisive runner with little wasted motion, exploding out of his cuts and is more of a north/south type of back. He will lower his shoulder and run over a defender, however, he has the feet to make people miss in the open field.

While his timed 40-yard dash may not support it, Greg is deceptively fast and uses his long legs to explode out of a rushing lane and stride in the open field. In goal line situations, he showed his leaping ability a few times, nearly clearing the line vertically.

His ability to run over defenders, use his athleticism to make people miss in the open field, and developing receiving skills remind me a bit of a young Ronnie Brown at Auburn. He's listed bigger then Ronnie, but I couldn't help but see some similarities in their style of play.

If I have one criticism of Greg it's that he does have some work to do if he wants to become a receiver at the next level. His hands left something to be desired and he looked a bit raw at the position. I know that Greg really prefers to play offense at the next level, but I hope he ends up keeping an open mind because I do think he could develop into one heck of a linebacker prospect.

Armando Allen

Despite his small stature (5-foot-9, 180 pounds), the first thing that stood out to me about Allen is how tough of a runner he actually is. He's got a slippery running style, shedding contact and finding his way out of a pile with relative ease and is just generally tough to tackle.

If you take a look at the lower half of his body you'll quickly find out why it's possible for this smaller back to stay on his feet as much as he does though – he never stops running. It's a fundamental that is often taught and rarely practiced, but Armando seems to have made it a part of his game at an early age. While keeping his legs moving constantly, Allen also does a nice job keeping a low center of gravity to stay balanced and getting his pad level low to drive through arm tackles.

Allen has a nice swivel in his hips and uses a nice little side step move effectively in the open field to make defenders miss. When watching him make cuts, his change of direction is nearly seamless, so a loss of speed and momentum isn't much of an issue. Allen keeps his head up in the open field and shows the awareness to make a cutback when necessary to give him more field to work with.

Armando does a nice job accelerating out of rushing lanes and has the open-field speed to take it to the house, however I wouldn't call him a burner.

As a receiver, he generally caught the ball away from his pads with his hands and secured it before turning up field to run. I only got to view a few punt returns, however, Allen did keep himself primarily north/south and was decisive when selecting his path.

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