Film Eval: Mike Blakely

SyracuseFan.com has contacted Mike Blakely's coaching staff and plans to get an interview with the Brandenton, Fla., native next week from his school, but for now we have gotten hold of his junior highlights and take a look at the ball carrier that Syracuse has offered.

Mike Blakely is a 5-foot-9, 194-pound running back from Manatee High School that has an offer from Syracuse, however the Orange coaching staff will have to battle with many other schools as Blakely has already been offered by Clemson, Iowa, Iowa State, Rutgers and South Florida as well. You can watch his film below and then read our evaluation of him.







After watching Blakely on film, the two biggest things I take away from him are his excellent balance and outstanding vision. This is a running back that doesn't really run with a low center of gravity, however he breaks through tackles, picks up yards after initial contact and squeezes through small gaps with ease because he keeps his feet moving quickly and has great balance. While he's running through traffic he does a very good job of keeping his feet high with choppy steps and also will bring out a stiff arm once in a while to pick up some violent yards.

Another thing that I really liked about Blakely is his north/south running style. Too many high school running backs are too athletic for the players around them, so they start to dance before the play and those bad habits turn into wasted steps at the collegiate level that will throw off an entire blocking scheme. Blakely is typically quick to the line, has a nice burst through rushing lanes and then gets up field quickly. Blakely doesn't have track-like speed, but he can get off tackle and take the ball the distance and does eat up a ton of yardage with his long strides. Frankly, he looks like a taller running back out there with his gallops in space.

Blakely is also a pretty elusive back. Too many people think of elusive guys and picture a back like Barry Sanders or Reggie Bush. You don't have to juke defenders out of their shoes to be elusive, there are many ways to do it. One thing Blakely really excels at is using subtle head and shoulder fakes in traffic to throw people off his trail. Another thing that helps him is something I brought up before with his ability to simply stay on his feet and contort his body after taking hits or having to make sharp cuts.

Lastly, his vision at running back looks excellent. He runs a little bit of the Wildcat as the quarterback and takes a lot of snaps between the tackles and does an excellent job of identifying the coverage, using his blockers and then getting in the open field and eluding would-be tacklers. He can cutback on a dime when he's in the open field and get back behind one of his own men and he also does a very good job of staying away from the sidelines which are essentially the 12th man for the defense.

Mike Blakely looks to me like a very, very solid running back that is going to end up being a national recruit that will end up with a few dozen offers. Pulling him in would be a huge get for Syracuse, no matter what his star ranking ends up being in my opinion.

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