ON THE ROAD WITH SWEETLOU

After three quarters of looking at skill players I was anxious to get on the road to see a couple of the best big uglies the State of Washington has to offer mix it up. The 45-minute drive through Seattle traffic seemed very painless with the match up of OL JC Ronnfeldt and DL Dan Milsten to look forward to.

Friday September 21st:
Rogers v. Decatur, Sparks Stadium, Puyallup, WA:



Decatur OL JC
RONNFELDT
These two fine football players choose to get things done very differently. DL Dan Milsten from Rogers, a Washington Husky commit, uses his angular frame, speed and quickness to gather his prey. OL JC Ronnfeldt from Decatur, prefers to use his size and strength to simply bury those who try and get to his teammates. With their contrasting styles I was interested in seeing different things from both of them.

Milsten, with his height (6-5) and weight (250 lbs.), I wanted to see if he was a project type of player with a good frame, but little football skills, or if he was an impact type guy who just hasn't gotten the credit he deserves. I also wanted to see how well he was developed physically. Was he a weight room type of guy who is on his way to being ready to play early in college or was he just naturally big and in need of strength before he would be ready to play at the next level?

Size and strength (6-3 and 320 lbs.) are not a question with Ronnfeldt for he has both in great abundance. And JC is one of the more physical players in the state so that wasn't a concern. What I was looking for, with his massive girth, was if he had any stamina or athleticism. I wanted to see how well he bends his knees when run and pass blocking and if he is mobile enough to pull and get out in front of counters, sweeps or screen passes. Could he play both ways and not have his play degrade as the game went on? How good would his balance be on defense when others are able to fire off and get into him as opposed to when he has the chance to get off of the ball first?

Two things were very apparent right off the bat. First was that both of their supporting casts left a lot to be desired. And second, both of them can play the game, and play it well.

Milsten immediately showed great agility and a desire to chase down plays from the backside. He also had a good base and balance and used his hands well to shed blocks. On top of that he is very well developed in the upper body, and is a competitor. The other thing that was amazing was how much he reminded me of former Rogers Ram Matt Lingley when he ran. Lingley ran extremely well for a linebacker. Milsten is three inches taller and weighs 35 pounds more. Very rarely does a kid his size run that well, and it is obvious why the Huskies offered him early.

However, being able to run doesn't make you a great football player and there are things that Milsten will need to do to become a dominant player in college. His frame is very impressive and has the ability to add at least 50 more pounds. But it is a bit thin in the lower body, and he will have to improve his leg strength before he will be able to compete on the next level. When JC would lock on to him, he would drive Milsten down field and with the mismatch in lower body strength there wasn't anything Dan could do about it. In time Milsten will have the ability to take on guys Ronnfeldt's size and when he does, with all of his other skills, he will be a load to handle. The Huskies got a nice looking prospect for the future.

Across from Milsten was a road grader of a lineman in JC Ronnfeldt. There is no doubt that his strength is almost impossible to match on the high school level. His massive bulk is almost impossible to move backwards and when he gets going out of the blocks he tends to bury his opponents into the turf. The nastiness to be an effective run blocker is definitely there. I was impressed with the fact that he played the entire game both ways and never took a series off for a blow. For a kid his size that is unheard of. When he fires off on run plays and gets into his man the likelihood is that the defensive player will end up on his back. Ronnfeldt has been known for his pancake blocks the last two years and he was serving up tall stacks all night.

What was interesting though was when JC had to go up against someone with some quickness. Ronnfeldt has a tendency to bend at the waist instead of his knees, and when he does so it is easy to knock him off balance. When he loses his balance the great strength he possesses is effectively neutralized. With his strength a non-factor the quickness isn't there to recover and plays can be made against him. Now while Decatur hardly ever throws the ball the ability to bend your knees is crucial in pass blocking. It is something that can be learned, but this could be a concern with some college coaches. Now while he showed good enough speed to pull and get out in front of run plays he had trouble at times locating players in space to block. The other thing that I noticed is that JC is significantly larger than last year, at least 15 pounds, and with his weight in the 320-pound range the concern that he might get too big to be effective in college is there.

I think both of these players have the ability to be good in college. Milsten will need to get in the weight room and add strength. While Ronnfeldt will need to make sure he takes the necessary steps to stay in shape and not let his weight become a factor. With the ability to use his hands, speed, and footwork Milsten is a very good fit for the Washington defense, which tends to feature speed and technique more than brute strength. Ronnfeldt will need to make sure he chooses a school whose offense fits his style. His brute strength and nasty disposition would be a great fit in an offense similar to Nebraska's where they tend to only throw the ball about 30% of the time. If he chooses a school that predominately throws the ball it may take him a couple of years to learn the techniques required to see the field and he will need to spend a great deal of time working to get comfortable playing in space.

Next up Defensive End Garret Quinn from Eastlake high school

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