Scouting Report: Florida Gators 2022 CB Commit Sam McCall
On Wednesday evening, the Florida Gators' recruiting class of 2022 received a major early addition in Lake Gibson (Lakeland, Fla.) cornerback/athlete Sam McCall.
McCall, 6-foot-2, 185-pounds, presents the length and athleticism to pair that cornerbacks coach Torrian Gray has prioritized over the last several cycles for the position. Coming from a press-heavy scheme that features man and disguised zone looks, McCall should have little issue translating to a very similar coverage scheme at Florida which could open the door for early playing time.
What all does McCall bring to the table for the Gators' secondary of the future? Dive into his scouting report below to find out.
There's some room left for McCall to fill out in Florida's strength and conditioning program, however, he already possesses a great frame for the position and in terms of height and length, he's got it all. McCall's fingertips hover his kneecaps when he stands straight up with his arms down, making him the ideal specimen to press receivers at the line and make plays on the ball in the air.
In order to maintain his speed and athleticism, I wouldn't expect UF to play McCall over 200-pounds. Florida will likely add weight to his upper-body in order to maintain his speed as well as get stronger in press coverage.
McCall told me in September that he had improved his 40-yard dash from the 4.5-second range into the 4.4's during this past offseason. While I don't have a laser-time to verify that, it's believable and watching McCall move both on tape and in practice can testify to just how well he can move.
You don't have to take my word for it, either. Lake Gibson moves McCall around from cornerback, to wide receiver, to Wildcat quarterback, to even kick and punt returner. Head coach Robert Paxia told me in September that his staff simply needed to continue finding ways to get the ball in McCall's hands, even with several D1-caliber athletes on both sides of the ball on the Braves' roster. He's just that dynamic.
Beyond straight-line speed, watch the two videos above to see how McCall works in tight spaces and moving in different directions. In press drills, McCall flipped his hips seamlessly to the direction of his receiver in order to maintain ideal positioning to punch the receiver's chest and throw him off the route. His hips flip with ease in the open-field as well, making McCall not as susceptible to double-moves as taller, less athletic cornerbacks can be prone to.
McCall also has some major hops, which also can be seen in both videos. McCall leads off the practice video with an impressive, leaping pass breakup that he then catches for an interception, and also makes several highlight grabs throughout his junior season film at the top, at both cornerback and receiver. McCall can and will attack the ball in the air and contest passes with just about any opposing player in the immediate area.
Instincts and Polish
McCall has a great feel for the coverage schemes that Lake Gibson deploys, with the strength to throw receivers off at the line in press and the quickness to drop from a press-stance into zone coverage off the snap. McCall keeps his head on a swivel and receivers in front of him from multiple angles in zone calls, processing routes while simultaneously reading the quarterback's eyes to take away his portion of the field and/or quickly react to a pass his way.
Quarterbacks have tested McCall at the boundary on several occasions in 2020, to no avail. He's sticky to his responsibility and is simply too high-caliber of an athlete to target one-on-one.
McCall can get stronger as he continues to mature his body and grow, but he isn't afraid to get physical. He can throw receivers off with a one or two-handed jab in press and is a hard-hitting form tackler when playing downhill against the run and short passes. I'd like to see him make more tackles in space when the ball-carrier is full-steam ahead as that doesn't show up often in McCall's film.
When jamming at the line, McCall does a good job for such a tall cornerback of playing low at first contact. That generates more power through McCall's lower body, and also keeps him balanced if the receiver throws some contact back. McCall can maintain an ideal position in front of the receiver and hip-to-hip as the receiver releases vertically by playing low through his press.
Even playing a couple of yards off of the ball, McCall's hip fluidity and footwork allow him to mirror the receivers release within the five-yard jam cushion to fake an off-coverage and press the receiver a couple of yards down the field while the play develops. By that point, it's hard for the receiver the recover and emerge as an option to receive a pass.
While the sky is the limit for McCall given his athleticism and room to grow, I've seen enough to suggest he can thrive in UF's system pretty early on in his Florida career from a physical and mental standpoint.
McCall has a great feel for the game to pair with his athletic profile that should only continue to sharpen at the next level. His positional versatility, considering he's just a junior in high school, is spectacular and a testament to just how well McCall understands the game. McCall has the ability to play both ways at the next level and should be a candidate to do so, but it's easy to project McCall as a future CB1 within the Gators' defense.
Antonio Cromartie, former Florida State and 10-year, All-Pro NFL cornerback.
Cromartie was a bit of a raw prospect coming out of Florida State in the mid-2000s but possessed a very similar frame, athleticism, and skill-set in coverage to McCall's. The New York Jets even teased the idea of playing Cromartie on offense earlier in his career, which led to four total touches across the 2011-12 seasons while also occasionally returning kicks as he did at FSU.
Cromartie emerged as a dominant press-coverage cornerback at the NFL level, who finished with 417 tackles, 31 interceptions, and 117 defended passes. This isn't to say McCall will certainly follow the same career path, rather, the two players are simply comparable players in terms of their strengths, make-up, playing style.