Florida added some badly-needed help to its future offensive line with the commitment of Deerfield Beach (Fla.) tackle David Conner on Tuesday night.
Conner is not a well-known prospect to many as his recruitment has only recently taken off. Conner only had one Division 1 scholarship offer - from Kansas - prior to June, when the likes of FAU, Syracuse, FIU and Arizona among others began calling.
Conner spent his summer camping and visiting big schools across the state of Florida, namely Miami, Florida State, UCF, and Florida. His workout in front of UF offensive line coach John Hevesy and fellow Gators staff led to an offer less than two weeks ago.
RELATED: OT David Conner commits to Florida
Perhaps Conner's late surge could be due to his two school transfers in the past two years, going from Southwest DeKalb (Ga.) to Martin Luther King (Ga.) and finally Deerfield Beach, following a family relocation to South Florida. In that time, he transitioned from playing on both sides of the ball to the offensive line on a more full-time basis.
Still, although he's relatively unknown and a raw prospect, Conner possesses talent the Gators will look to mold during his career at UF. Below, you can find AllGators' evaluation of his game.
David Conner scouting report
A lengthy, athletic frame
Conner will certainly add weight to his frame in college, but he comes in with spectacular height and length which translates to the ability to play tackle. Standing at 6-foot-6, 285 pounds, Conner possesses long arms to the point that his fingertips nearly meet his kneecaps pointing downward.
Such a frame should allow Conner to contest athletic edge rushers at the next level, being able to land an early punch before defenders can create leverage. While down blocking to the interior, Conner's length should benefit him as he shoots his hands toward three-techniques as a run blocker.
Conner's hands are also large as well. Big mitts and length are an ideal combination for offensive tackles, and Conner's mitts pack a lot of power.
For a player of his size, Conner moves fairly well in space. We've seen him successfully combo block to the second-level and move across the formation to seal blocks. What we'd like to see is more precise movement skills in a confined area.
At his current height and paired with his solid athleticism, Conner should be able to afford an additional 15-20 pounds in Florida's strength and conditioning program without losing any speed.
From all of the tape we've been able to observe - both in games and camp highlights - Conner has a knack for literally manhandling edge defenders and defensive linemen.
Conner's brute upper-body strength frequently appeared in his spring debut with Deerfield earlier this year, driving defenders into the dirt four times in a one-and-a-half minute highlight video.
Once Conner locks his hands on the defender's chest, he has shown the propensity to snatch his opponent down and throw them at his feet. This particularly appears when Conner is in pass-protection, beginning with a stone-walling block before he finishes the rep with style.
The issue at this time is that Conner's blocking power is coming almost entirely from his upper-body. He doesn't often use his feet to anchor blocks and he can do a better job of getting his hips low to generate core strength as a run blocker. This should be fixable, but right now, his strength is a bit unbalanced.
Technique refinement needed
In addition to balancing out where his power comes from, Conner has a lot of work ahead of him from a technique perspective.
For one, Conner can start by lowering his pad level on a consistent basis. This pairs with his strength primarily coming from his upper body. By lowering his pad level, not only will Conner obtain power from his lower body but also should maintain far better balance than he does right now. There have been times where Conner gets pushed out of position on film because the defender was the lower man throughout the rep.
Conner can also improve his footwork as his kickstep in pass protection is timid and doesn't create much depth. Should this remain a problem, edge rushers will have little issue breezing by Conner with finesse pass rush moves.
From what we can tell, Conner does a good job with keeping his hands in the right position and striking when it's optimal to do so. That being said, he can develop his hands to counter against rush moves as well as he continues to learn the position at Florida.
There is no doubt that Conner is talented, which led to his recruitment finally taking off this summer. He possesses the ideal frame to play offensive tackle in college and a combination of raw power and movement skills at his disposal.
That being said, Conner is far from a finished product as a football player. He is game is littered with upside, but it will take a lot of work for Conner to maximize it. That will include adding muscular weight to his stature, mending his footwork and pad level, and continuing to unlock his athleticism as such.
It's hard to expect Conner to become a meaningful contributor within his first two seasons at Florida as he continues to develop. However, as Florida has struggled to recruit the position up until this point, injuries and roster attrition could force UF to accelerate that process barring the additions of veteran transfers at tackle.
So long as Conner remains on a learning track instead of being forced onto the field, there is a chance that his potential can turn into starting-caliber talent on Florida's offensive line.
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