College football’s National Signing Day dominated the headlines this week, and while in the class of 2017 only Jordan Goodwin was recruited at a high level throughout his high school career in both football and basketball, there are plenty of top hoops players who would excel on the gridiron. Here is a look at athletes who could have been making headlines today had they chosen a different path.
Perhaps the two guys in this class who have the highest football upside would be on the offensive line. Florida-bound Isaiah Stokes and Colorado-bound Evan Battey each have the look of an elite offensive tackle. Battey would be an especially good prospect as a football player. He’s around 6-foot-7 and 280 pounds with very long arms and tremendous feet. His athleticism at his size and ability to move his feet would translate well in the trenches.
Stokes isn’t quite as athletic as Battey, but he also is around 6-foot-7 and 275 pounds and is as strong as they come. Stokes also has extremely long arms and moves pretty well. With his power and nimble feet, Stokes would be pursued heavily as a football prospect. Another potential high-level offensive lineman would be Kentrevious Jones. Jones isn’t the prototype that Battey and Stokes are, and he is a bit taller, but he has long arms with pretty nimble feet.
Basketball players typically have made an impact in football at the tight end position, and a trio of players really fit that bill in this class.
French might be the best fit, as he is one of the toughest kids in the class and brings favorable size at about 6-foot-7 and 230 pounds.
Washington and Lee both are high-level basketball recruits, but they would have NFL and college coaches drooling. Each can really run at their size and have the broad shoulders and long arms to be effective as pass-catchers or potentially blockers.
Not surprisingly, there also are a few wing players who could easily project as wide receivers given their freakish athleticism.
Current Kentucky enrollee Hamidou Diallo has the size, long arms, big-time leaping ability and speed to be an impact wide receiver. Also, on the basketball court he catches all sorts of ally-oops and passes, so one would think his hands would be acceptable.
Finally, there is Oregon-bound wing V.J. Bailey. Bailey has the traditional look of a wideout. He is the son of former NFL pass catcher Victor Bailey as well as former Olympic sprinter Tonja Buford-Bailey, so the genetics are there, and so is the athleticism. At 6-foot-4, Bailey is an elite leaper, can really run and shows excellent coordination.
Weatherspoon is around 6-foot-2 with good length, but he also changes directions incredibly well. Weatherspoon has the size NFL teams love in a corner, and likely would run a blazing 40-yard dash.
Virginia Tech-bound point guard Wabissa Bede would excite a lot of scouts as a safety prospect. Bede is already 6-foot-1 and in the neighborhood of 185 to 190 pounds and would add weight. Also, Bede is a good athlete who is as tough as nails. Beyond that, Bede has incredible leadership qualities.
Along with good secondary players, in order to stop a good passing game you need players who can get after the passer.
UCLA-bound power forward Cody Riley looks like an ideal defensive end. He is around 250 pounds with great length and wide shoulders. He also is a very good athlete who is tough and physical. Riley likely would have a great first step out of a three point stance.
Finally there is Auburn-bound point guard Davion Mitchell. Mitchell could be an outstanding running back and also may be able to play cornerback. In fact, college coaches recruiting his friend and Georgia-bound four-star safety Richard LeCounte, have told Mitchell he could be the better football prospect. Mitchell has great athleticism, is tough enough that he could run in-between the tackles and likely would also be a home-run threat when he gets into the open field.