Scouting: Jesse James – TE, Penn St.

 
Year – Junior
HT/WT – 6’7”/261 lbs
Expected draft spot 3rd – 5th round
 

“The Outlaw”. “The Road Dogg”. Can the Ravens draft him just because of the cool nicknames that go along with being named Jesse James? 

James sticks out to me because of one thing. Size. 6’7” will play at the next level. Jimmy Graham is 6’7”, Rob Gronkowski is 6’6”. Maryland Terps fans might remember Jesse James well, as he caught a TD pass against one of the Terps tallest cornerbacks, Sean Davis (6’1”). James does a beautiful job of going over the DB, and using his strong hands to secure the grab, and the all-important “complete the process”. Hard to tell from the video if he got two feet in, necessary by NFL rules. But a nice grab and a TD on this day nonetheless. 

Discuss your thoughts on this potential Ravens draft prospect on our message board.

Sticking with the Maryland theme, James is entering the draft a year early, like Teprs standout receiver, Stefon Diggs. Also like Diggs, the experts feel like James hurt his draft stock by coming out early, and could have vaulted up draft boards in 2016 with one stronger collegiate showing. CBS Sports lists James as their 3rd best TE prospect, but as a 3rd round selection in a very shallow TE class. Walter Football lists him as a 5th round selection. Mike Mayock of NFL.com, did not list Jesse James in his top five tight ends.

Statistically, James numbers won’t astound you, but it’s widely because he was under-utilized in Happy Valley. He caught 38 balls for 396 yards with three scores last season. What he lacked in receiving opportunities, you would think he would make for in the run heavy aspect of the Penn State game. Hard to tell if he’s at fault, but as a team the Nittany Lions rushed for 2.9 yards per carry.

Let’s look at some more tape, and analyze the big tight end.

James makes a nice play, going up the seam first, then breaks off a flag route. Nice catch in stride, and outruns a LB on his way to the endzone. Good ball security as well.

Here against UCF, James shows a flash of toughness. Way to hang on to the football after getting hammered. 

That was a great play, but on the very next one, what happened? Did James hear footsteps? Was he shaken a bit. Here are where the negative plays come in. The ball was a shade behind him, but you gotta catch those.

James doesn’t run a very crisp route here. He gains zero separation from a linebacker, and doesn’t look for the ball. Could be a case of late game, blowout, loss of focus. But not good either way.

Easy drop

Strengths:

  • Size
  • Standout at the combine
  • Size
  • Size
  • Size
  • Nicknames (I’m reaching here)

 Weaknesses:

  • Small hands
  • Average blocker
  • Smaller catching radius despite his size
  • Not a crisp route runner
  • Not a factor against better competition (Ohio State, Michigan State)
  • In game speed

Summary: Not hard to tell how I feel about this prospect. Ozzie Newsome stressed the importance of this being a “tight end friendly offense” in the “State of the Ravens” presser a few days back. They are in wait and see mode with Dennis Pitta, and honestly, no stock should be put into his return. They should proceed as if they will not have Pitta, and if he makes it back, consider it a bonus. I feel very certain that the Ravens will be taking a tight end in this draft. I can almost guarantee you that. How serious they are about upgrading the position, depends, on if a serviceable Owen Daniels is re-signed, and how they feel about the development of Crockett Gillmore. Also if they address the position in free agency. If they feel confident in how the position looks, I could see the Ravens, or another team, snagging up James if he tumbles down the draft board. 5th round seems about right to roll the dice with a guy who is a physical mismatch, and that’s about it. To be fair, Christian Hackenberg isn’t a good quarterback. Maybe a better QB will make a better player out of James.

However, with the prospects out there, if they really want an upgrade, they will target the position earlier in the draft. The next Jimmy Graham, “Outlaw” is not.

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Terps Basketball Recruiting Q&A with Michael Bohlin, 247Sports

On Tuesday Night, the 2014-15 University of Maryland Terrapins delivered their latest and loudest statement of the year with with a 59-53 win over #5 Wisconsin. With that victory the Terps improved to 23-5 overall, and are now 11-4 in their first year in the Big Ten. There are three regular season games remaining, to be followed by the Big Ten Tournament, and Maryland’s first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since the 2009-10 season.

The arrow for the program is clearly pointing up. What will sustain this upward trend is recruiting, and adding the next waves of talent infusion.

When this season ends, Maryland will see the departures of Dez Wells, Evan Smotrycz, Richaud Pack, Jonathan Graham, and Varun Ram.

After sitting out this year following his transfer from Georgia Tech, Robert Carter will be eligible. Ivan Bender joined MD in January, but is still recovering from an ACL injury sustained in 2013. He will be in the rotation next November. Currently the lone member of MD’s 2015 Recruiting class is JUCO PG Jaylen Brantley.

Should there not be any unexpected departures, this has MD’s 2015-16 Depth Chart currently looking like:

2015-16 Terps
Guards: Melo Trimble, Dion Wiley, Jaylen Brantley
Wings: Jake Layman, Jared Nickens
Bigs: Robert Carter, Damonte Dodd, Michal Cekovsky, Ivan Bender

Baltimore Sports and Life thanks Michael Bohlin (a Basketball Recruiting Analyst) from 247Sports for providing some of his thoughts on Maryland’s chances with prospects in the 2015 and 2016 Classes.

(This can be discussed on the BSL Board here.)

Baltimore Sports and Life:  Currently, the lone member of Maryland’s 2015 Recruiting class is JUCO PG (Odessa Community College) Jaylen Brantley. Brantley – who will have 3 years of eligibility remaining when he arrives at College Park – has been described as having a quick first-step, and being a good creator for others in the scouting reports I’ve seen. Have you seen him, does he project as someone eventually capable of starting at the Big Ten level?

Bohlin: It has been over a year since I last saw Brantley play in person but the scouting reports you’ve found to this point give a solid description. He’s the type of player that is more than capable of scoring the basketball but doesn’t have to put the ball in the bucket to be effective due to his ability to facilitate the offense.

Baltimore Sports and Life: A pseudo member of MD’s Class of ’15 is Ivan Bender, who enrolled into Maryland in January. The 6’9 Bosnian native was eligible to practice immediately, but is still recovering from an ACL injury suffered in 2013. The reports I’ve seen suggest he is an athletic shot-blocking 4, with a decent shot. Once healthy, what type of ceiling do you believe he has?

Bohlin: I am less familiar with Bender’s game as he was a bit of a surprise addition to the 2015 class upon enrolling this past January. Of the two Bender’s, his younger brother is the better long-term prospect. However, from all accounts Ivan should be able to continue to develop into a serviceable big man, at the very least, for Mark Turgeon.

Baltimore Sports and Life: Diamond Stone (6’10, 255lbs Milwaukee, WI) remains MD’s leading priority, and seemingly the final piece to their projected roster for next year. UConn, Oklahoma State, and the hometown Wisconsin Badgers are also in play for the consensus 5 star Center. Where do you see him ending up? What are his primary strengths, and what are his current limitations?

Bohlin: I currently have Stone projected to sign with the Connecticut Huskies but his Crystal Ball currently has the in-state Wisconsin Badgers as the team to beat for his services. In the end, I believe those are the two schools in the best position to secure a commitment from the five-star center. He’s a distinct low-post threat for any team he plays on that can also face up from the high post and be effective. He’ll need to continue to improve his conditioning and explosiveness going forward as those are areas where Stone still has room for improvement.

Baltimore Sports and Life:  It was reported this past week that Thon Maker plans to reclassify into the Class of 2015. Like Stone, Maker (7’0, 210 lbs) is an elite Center prospect. While he has visited MD, the Terps do not appear to be near the top of his list. Where do you see Maker going, and whose game do you like better – Maker or Stone?

Bohlin: Maker has a more developed face up game out to the perimeter than Stone does and this versatility is one of the things that makes Thon such a highly touted prospect. It is hard to get a sense as to which turn his recruitment will take next as some have floated the possibility of Maker doing a post-graduate year of high school before declaring for the NBA Draft. In the end, going the college route will be the best thing for him and the schools in the best position appear to be the Kansas Jayhawks and Kentucky Wildcats.

Baltimore Sports and Life: A 3rd 2015 Center we’ve seen Maryland linked to is Yankuba Sima (6’11, 215 lbs). Thoughts on his game, and MD’s chances with him?

Bohlin: Of the big men that Maryland has been linked to, Sima looks to be the one that is most likely to give a commitment to Mark Turgeon at this time. The Terps have been recruiting Sima going back to September of 2014 with the four-star big man having already visited College Park once. Sima is a skilled forward that will only continue to improve as a player as he becomes more and more comfortable with the physical style of play in the United States.

Baltimore Sports and Life:  Maryland’s first commitment of the 2016 Class is PG Anthony Cowan. The Washington D.C. native seems to be gaining steam in the recruiting rankings. What do you like about his game, what do you question?

Bohlin: He’s a true leader and a player that should have no issues running an offense to get looks for himself and others. I like the way that Cowan plays with no fear despite, more times than not, being one of the smaller guards on the floor. While it isn’t a trend by any stretch, Cowan has struggled at times when matched up against bigger guards and that is something I would keep an eye on going forward.

Baltimore Sports and Life:  Some other names in the 2016 Class we’ve seen MD connected with include Tyus Battle, Brandon Robinson, Mamadi Diakite, Tone Carr, Curtis Jones, and Barret Benson. Who stands out to you among that group?

Bohlin: For obvious reasons, Tyus Battle is the name that sticks out immediately as he’s established himself as one of the top talents in the class of 2016 regardless of position. While I haven’t had as much of an opportunity to see him play as a junior, I was very high on the ability of Curtis Jones while he was playing locally at Paul VI this past season.

Baltimore Sports and Life: Who else in either the 2015 or ’16 Classes could you see being a possibility for the Terrapins?

Bohlin: I would keep an eye on players like Malik Ellison and Maurice O’Field in the class of 2015 while some other names that jump off the page in the 2016 class as possibilities are Markelle Fultz and Cassius Winston.

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Quick Hits: February 26, 2015

dudzinski_k_02

Image Credit: Maryland Terrapins

College football is a year-round sport nowadays, and spring football practice for the Maryland Terrapins will begin in just a few days. There are plenty of things to watch for when the Terrapins take the practice field, and we should get a few of our questions about the program answered in the coming months. Recruiting for the 2016 season is in full swing, and the DMV area boasts one of its most talented classes in a long time.

(Discuss this article on the BSL Message Board here.)

New Defensive Coordinator

The Maryland Terrapins made a very surprising move last week, parting ways with defensive coordinator Brian Stewart and naming inside linebackers coach Keith Dudzinski as his replacement. Stewart joined Randy Edsall’s staff in 2012, after Edsall parted ways with Todd Bradford after just one season. Stewart brought NFL experience to the program, having spent 7 years in the league with the Houston Texans, San Diego Chargers, Dallas Cowboys, and Philadelphia Eagles. Just before joining the Terrapins, he served as the defensive coordinator for the Houston Cougars.

Stewart brought the 3-4 defensive scheme back to Maryland, an aggressive system that features versatile linebackers and a run-stopping defensive line. His system also relied on man-coverage from his defensive backs to allow his linebackers to rush the quarterback. His first season with the Terrapins was a success. While the offense struggled to find any sort of rhythm, the defense was solid. With players like A.J. Francis, Darius Kilgo, and Joe Vellano on the defensive line, and Kenneth Tate, Darin Drakeford, Cole Farrand, and Demetrius Hartsfield filling out the front seven, Brian Stewart looked like the defensive coordinator that the Terrapins needed.

However, his defenses struggled a bit over the past two seasons. Injuries played a large part in the decline. Taking the 2014 season for an example, Stewart had to deal with the losses of staters Quinton Jefferson, Cole Farrand, Matt Robinson, Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil, and Alvin Hill at different points in the season. Personnel also played a part in the defense’s decline, but I believed that 2015 would be a good year for the defense. The roster boasts some very good young talent, and I thought that Stewart would be able to create a special defense this season. It didn’t take him long to find a new job, as Nebraska hired him as their defensive backs coach this week.

Keith Dudzinski is the team’s new defensive coordinator. He has been the team’s inside linebackers coach since 2011, and was in the running for the defensive coordinator job before Brian Stewart was hired in 2012. He will be moving the team to a 4-3 defensive scheme, which is a bit surprising given how late he took over as the coordinator. However, the team seems confident that the change will be good for the defense’s success.

New Scholarship Offers

The Maryland Terrapins have made some more scholarship offers to some 2016 and 2017 recruits this week. Here they are:

February 25

4-star WR Binjimen Victor (Fort Lauderdale, FL) – Class of 2016
3-star RB D’Vaughn Pennamon (Manvel, TX) – Class of 2016
3-star CB Malek Young (Pompano Beach, FL) – Class of 2016

February 24

4-star ATH Jordan Anthony (Olney, MD) – Class of 2017
0-star ATH Joshua Paschal (Olney, MD) – Class of 2017
4-star OC Baveon Johnson (Lakeland, FL) – Class of 2016
3-star OG Nik Urban (Willoughby, OH) – Class of 2016

February 23

3-star OG Mackenzie Nworah (Manvel, TX) – Class of 2016
3-star OT Brandon Ford (Pittsburgh, PA) – Class of 2016

February 21

3-star TE Jacob Mathis (Tampa, FL) – Class of 2016

February 20

3-star OT Darius Harper (Springfield, OH) – Class of 2016
3-star OT Luke Fortner (Sylvania, OH) – Class of 2016
3-star SDE Thomas Schaffer (Lake Forest, IL) – Class of 2016

As you can see, the Terrapins are focused on three big out-of-state areas: Florida, Texas, and Ohio. Florida and Texas are great places to recruit athletic players on both sides of the ball, while Ohio is great for recruiting offensive and defensive linemen. Florida and Texas are generally recruited by wide receivers coach Keenan McCardell, who has proven to be a major asset in recruiting. Ohio is generally handled by defensive line coach Chad Wilt, who has strong ties in the area from his time at Bowling Green. 

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