Like any good football playmaker, four-star Lancaster (Calif.) Paraclete athlete Melquise Stovall is eyeing a number of things.
He isn’t just looking at one thing. He’s getting the ball on a pitch to the outside and taking in the landscape of the developing play. He sizing up the current hole, sees his guard pulling in front of him and the weight of the defender’s outside leg and determining whether to cut inside or try to race outside.
Except the 5-foot-7, 177-pound Stovall isn’t on the field yet. High school football practice is just starting to get underway across the Southland, but what Stovall is eyeing is life after high school.
He’s already got a nice running lane with USC, committing to the Trojans in April. Ranked No. 290 in the Scout 300, Stovall is listed as an athlete because he brings versatility. While he has played mainly running back with Paraclete, he expects his role to begin shifting this season.
“I’m going to play a lot more receiver,” Stovall said. “I hope i can get over 1,000 yards receiving and over 40 receptions.”
USC sees Stovall is a player that can be effective in space. His small frame isn’t suited for 25-30 carries per game in the backfield, so instead the Trojans have told him they see him being used in a variety of ways in a number of offensive roles.
He sees himself in the Reggie Bush mold and he hasn’t seen a school that has been able to utilize an athlete with that type of skill set better. He points out how USC has been creative with using Jackson.
“I feel like they’re going to be able to display my talents the best,” Stovall said. “I talked to Coach Helton and he was talking about more of an Adoree’ Jackson [role] — the way they used him at running back for swing passes, go routes and stuff like that and also motioning him out as a slot receiver to get the one-on-ones with a linebacker. Also putting me at slot receiver and wideout.”
Right now, Stovall is patiently biding his time, waiting for the play to develop in front of him, except the blockers are other potential USC commits. Will there be an extra cardinal and gold blocker or two to widen the hole for his college path? Stovall is trying to make sure of that by recruiting hard for the Trojans.
Stovall, who also played some cornerback at The Opening Finals in Beaverton, Ore. last month, continues to work on recruiting defensive players as well, including Elk Grove (Calif.) Franklin safety Lamar Jackson and Pittsburg (Calif.) cornerback Jordan Parker.
“I’m still working on [Jackson]. I think he’s buying in, but I’m not too sure. He’s in high consideration and then I’m working on Jordan Parker. I think he’s on board hopefully.”
But as the recruiting play begins to transform in front of Stovall, he’s still eyeing the defenders and deciding whether it might be best to eschew the blockers and try to bounce it outside and choose a different school. It’s a high-risk, high-reward proposition. Stovall sees the Trojans gaining momentum, but is that where he’ll fit best?
He said is trying to finalize visits to Notre Dame, Utah and possibly Washington State and Colorado. Miami would be a potential destination for an official visit, but they’ve told him that they don’t want him to visit unless he decommits from USC. Stovall said he is definitely going to take a visit during his high school bye week, which is the weekend of October 17, but that trip won’t be to Notre Dame.
“I don’t think it’s going to be Notre Dame because they play USC, so the coach didn’t want any reporters being like, “You’re only going up there for USC and da-da-da.”
Instead, he’ll try to visit the Golden Domers on another weekend, but the days are dwindling away for extra visits since Stovall is on track to enroll early. When on the field, Stovall processes all the data in a split second and quickly makes his choice whether to cut inside of his blockers or to bounce the play.
Before long, Stovall will have to weigh all the factors of his college decision and choose whether to use all blockers for a strong Student Body Right gain or to produce a juke move to the outside and try to make his own mark elsewhere.
Check out Melquise Stovall's highlights from the USC Rising Stars camp as long as these highlights from The Opening Finals: