Kuechly Down to Four
Luke Kuechly will be the first to admit St. Xavier High School didn't have a 2008 for the record books, finishing just 4-6 overall and 0-3 in conference play. Kuechly did his part, however, telling The Bootleg he finished with about 125 tackles."We struggled a little this year and ended up not making the playoffs," he said. "I did alright. I felt I could have done a little better, but I played pretty well." Though his high school football career is over, Kuechly remains busy as ever in an attempt to narrow in on a college decision. He reports offers from most Big Ten schools, save for Ohio State, as well as several other programs across the Midwest, the ACC and around the country. But Kuechly has trimmed his list considerably. Today, only four schools remain standing. "Stanford, Boston College, Duke and Virginia," Kuechly said. "I've seen them all except Stanford, and I'm heading out there this weekend."
With his final visit just days away, Kuechly plans to make a final decision "in a couple weeks, probably."Stanford is doing its part to sway the linebacker, with Assistant Coach D.J. Durkin leading a recruiting team that Kuechly says has contacted him weekly. It's not the first contact Kuechly has had with the Cardinal, however. "I went up to Stanford earlier this summer," he tells The Bootleg. "It went pretty well; I met some of the kids. I like the academics and that it seems like staff is looking to turn things around. It's a good place." The linebacker played his cards close to the vest in a mid-week interview, but, when asked, said he liked Coach Durkin and the players he met on his first Stanford visit. That could be an important sign for Cardinal fans, as Keuchly says the most important metric in making his decision is where he feels the most comfortable. "I have to figure out if it's the right place to me," he said. "That's the biggest thing."
Stanford is also the only school of the final four, according to Kuechly, whose current 2009 commits have stayed in contact."I talk to a couple of Stanford commits. [Four-star Maryland DT] Terrence Stephens, and [four-star New York LB] Shayne Skov texts a little bit too. That kind of falls under that comfort level thing." Academically, Kuechly reports a 3.8 and is waiting on test retakes. He sent in his Stanford application a few weeks ago, and has yet to hear back. "[A likely college major] is one thing I'm still trying to figure out. I'm going to talk to my counselor and kind of see what he has to say and what I should look for in a major. I'm really not a science guy, but I'm open to anything else."
Expert Opinion: While Kuechly's college destination remains unknown, scouts and coaches have a pretty good idea of what he'll contribute to his future team. Scout.com's Midwest Recruiting Analyst Allen Trieu is familiar with Kuechly, and is high on his knowledge of the game."He's an excellent football player with instincts and a knack for being around the ball," Trieu told The Bootleg in an email Wednesday. "He is a solid tackler and shows good awareness in coverage. He's usually in good position and reads keys well, which helps him overcome the fact that he doesn't really standout in terms of speed and athleticism." Unsurprisingly, then, Trieu thinks Kuechly will arrive in college with better knowledge of the game than his peers, but will have to try to add speed and strength to make an impact at the college level. "Most players come in and have to learn the defense and learn the mental side as far as reads and keys, but I think he will pick that up quickly," Trieu said. "As a result, the biggest thing for him is to continue to get stronger and add more explosiveness and speed to his game. I'd like to see him get up over 230 pounds and get a little faster." All in all, Trieu thinks, colleges might not be getting a future NFL first-rounder in Kuechly, but they're landing a solid prospect who'll have the chance to immediately make his team better. " I think he's rated pretty fairly," Trieu said of the nation's No. 25 strong-side linebacker. "He's a guy who could outplay his ranking because he's such a good all-around player, but because he doesn't have as much upside as some of the kids above him, I think his ranking is about right. He could be a tad underrated, but he's in the right ballpark." As National Signing Day nears, stay tuned to The Bootleg for all the latest on Kuechly's recruitment!