I truly believe that hardcore football fans like Scout subscribers want to know what a college coach and recruiter looks for when evaluating a high school athlete. Even though my evaluations will not be as detailed as the ones we did at Ohio State, they will give you a good, solid idea of how the process works. I think the subscribers will find the evaluating procedure both interesting and informing.
It is important to realize that my evaluation may vary from that of other coaches and recruiters. That's why no one person has all the answers. Many factors determine how successful a young man becomes once he takes his talents to the next level. Maturity, discipline, intelligence and other intangibles are elements that are tough to evaluate off film. That is why a great recruiter leaves no stone unturned before offering a young man a scholarship.
I will simply evaluate the players in regards to their football talent as I see it. My evaluations will be based not on popularity, how other services rank them, or on what schools are recruiting them. It will be based on an honest and up-front analysis of their football abilities.
Let's first take a look at running backs Brandon Saine and Daniel Herron. Both of these players have had outstanding high school careers but both possess different skills and talents that give them the opportunity to compete at the college level.
This is a list of the skills I use in evaluating a running back:
• Blocking ability
• Receiving ability
• Ability to break tackles
• Split defenders
• Ball security
• Ability to make defenders miss
• Carrying out fakes
For a great running back, many of these skills are instinctive. Even at that, few players coming out of high school have mastered all of them. Once an athlete does, he becomes a complete running back.
Brandon is one of the most talented athletes in the country. At 6-0 and 200 pounds, he is a very skilled player. He is impressive in the open field where he shows the ability to pull away from the opposition. He has a great change of direction and can cut on a dime.
Brandon looks effective running between tackles but is outstanding when going wide. It's tough to tell how powerful he is at this point. His 31-inch vertical indicates he'll need to improve leg strength next fall.
A major college running back needs to be good at pass protection and I haven't seen him do enough blocking yet to make a good evaluation of that skill. His toughness as a runner, however, doesn't give one any huge concerns that he can't master pass protection techniques.
All in all, do I not only think Brandon Saine has the skills to be an outstanding player, I believe he is the premier commitment at this point. He should definitely see playing action early. He simply has too much talent to sit on the bench as long as he can master the complexity of the college game.
Daniel is a good, tough running back. He can take a hit and also can dish one out. He's impressive on inside runs where he shows good vision and balance. He also can get north and south in a hurry. He shows the ability to break tackles even though he is 5-10 and about 190 pounds.
Daniel is quicker than he is fast. He makes good moves in the open field but rarely pulls away like Brandon.
Daniel seems to have good ball skills and shows the versatility to play either side of the ball. His toughness, skill level and quickness should make him a good special teams player.
Even though Daniel is a good football player, I think it will be tough for him to play a lot – if at all – as a freshman. He will need a year to mature and get a little faster.