I used to be dead set against the athlete category when it comes to projecting high school players to the next level. I considered it the lazy man's way out. Have a quarterback that won't be a quarterback on the college level, slap an athlete tag on him. A running back that might be a little small, call him an athlete.
Scout previously had shown a primary and secondary recruited position, and I always figured if we couldn't project two positions the player in question might play, then we weren't doing a good enough job.
Then Darren McFadden and Arkansas morphed college football. The wildcat formation may not have started in Arkansas, but with McFadden running wild out of it, the Razorbacks certainly took the wildcat mainstream.
And in essence, the Razorbacks created a new position. Where do you place a player that fits seamlessly into the wildcat quarterback position? Is he a quarterback? Is he a running back? Is he a receiver?
He's an Athlete.
Mission Bay's Dillon Baxter is an Athlete.
On Friday, Baxter rushed for 314 yards and five touchdowns on only 19 carries. He also completed four of six passes for 57 yards and another two scores. What was a 20-14 halftime game against Hoover finished as a 48-14 route as the Mission Bay defense shutdown Hoover in the second half, and Baxter never slowed down from the first.
Closer to 5'10 than his listed 6'0, Baxter is currently listed as a 4-Star receiver on Scout.com. He obviously won't be playing quarterback at USC, or will he? He already throws the ball better than Denard Robinson at Michigan, and if Pete Carroll ever wanted to dabble with the wildcat, Baxter certainly would be a qualified candidate.
Watching Baxter run, he has the fluidity of a cornerback in how he jumps in and out of his cuts. His ability in the open field make him ideal with the ball in his hands as a slot receiver. He has tremendous acceleration and balance when he's running the ball, and his experience from the shotgun set at quarterback as helped hone his vision and patience to set up his blocks.
He has a thick lower body, much more reminiscent of a running back than a receiver. Physically speaking, he's a lot more Reggie Bush than Steve Smith. His start and stop move reminds me of Carnell Williams and Knowshon Moreno.
When projecting players for the next level, a scout has to blend what he knows with what he believes will happen in the future.
I know Dillon Baxter is an elite runner.
I know Dillon Baxter has the build of a running back.
I don't know how adept Dillon Baxter is at running routes and catching the ball.
I know Dillon Baxter is an athlete.
Were I to project Dillon Baxter for the next level on Scout, I'd list him as a running back based on what I know.
You know what else I know? The coaches at USC don't have to make that decision right now. And I know Pete Carroll and company are going to enjoy finding just the right spot for Baxter's talent.
If you're a subscriber to SCPlayBook.com, you can see Baxter's seven touchdown performance right here. If you haven't subscribed to SCPlayBook.com yet, give us a chance. This video alone with worth the effort it takes to sign up for a 7-Day Free Trial!
Following seven touchdowns of highlights, Baxter has a quick message for you:
#28 QB Dillon Baxter