Hometown: Highlands Ranch, Colorado
High School: Valor Christian
Key Offers: Florida State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Stanford
As the consensus top player in the state of Colorado, Christian McCaffrey has a decidedly elite profile. Though Scout is the only service that places him in the top 100, his offer list and position ranks are evidence that he could end up moving up in the national rankings before the recruiting class closes. The position categorizations as "all-purpose back" and "athlete" suggest that the services see him as a high-end running back prospect with the versatility to be a significant threat as a pass catcher out of the backfield as well.
Christian McCaffrey is an explosive athlete that can be a multipurpose weapon in any college offensive system. As a runner out of the backfield, McCaffrey's style is that of a back who makes one cut and goes. When running off-tackle or outside, he patiently analyzes the blocks in front of him, puts his foot in the ground and accelerates up the field. McCaffrey's ability to reach top speed extremely quickly is repeatedly shown by his upfield burst after making a cut and his ability to turn the corner, even in times when he has limited sideline room in which to operate. In the open field, the same plant-and-go cut that McCaffrey uses to burst upfield transforms into sudden dead-leg cuts that are an excellent complement to his speed. He can quickly sink his hips to change direction without losing speed. Also complementing his open-field speed are jump-cut and stutter-step moves, which allow him to consistently fool defenders when simply running past is not an option.
Two other notable attributes that McCaffrey displays as a runner are strength and balance. He already has a solid build at 6-foot-0 and close to 200 pounds as a junior, and those measurables manifest themselves as small and large defenders alike fail to complete tackles. McCaffrey can pull away from arm tackles and is difficult to trip up, in part due to his great balance. Even when hit squarely, the Colorado prospect can bounce off and keep the play alive to gain more yards.
As a receiver, McCaffrey is a natural hands-catcher who can pluck the ball out of the air. His high school throws to him both out of the backfield and from the slot receiver alignment. On screen plays from the backfield, as well as bubble and mouse screens from the slot, McCaffrey uses the same instincts that he uses at running back to pick an opening and accelerate through. His high school also occasionally sent him on short, intermediate and deep routes when aligned as a slot receiver. His speed is a significant threat to the middle of the field, and though his video does not show very many intermediate routes with sharp cuts, through his runs, he shows the requisite athleticism to be a successful all-around route runner.
Though his defensive play isn't featured in his highlight videos, McCaffrey could be a solid defensive prospect as well. His top-end running back skills translate well to the defensive backfield. Though it is highly unlikely that a defensive need will surmount McCaffrey's offensive explosiveness, his versatile skill set would allow defense to be an option for him on the next level.
All-purpose back is a great categorization for Christian McCaffrey, given his skill set. He has skills that make him an excellent prospect for running inside and outside, catching the ball out of the backfield, and creating mismatches with the defense by lining up in the slot. Whether he tops out at 200-205 pounds or 210-220 pounds will likely dictate how much he is used in those different roles. Weight notwithstanding, McCaffrey projects to be a terrific addition to any offense, as he would be extremely valuable even if he could excel in only one of the aforementioned roles, let alone each one them.
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