LSU added to its 2021 recruiting class with a talented ‘athlete’ along the offensive line. A physical talent with high upside, Kimo Makaneole also brings a versatile playing style to Baton Rouge.
In today’s college football, programs desiring to reach the playoffs better be athletic at every position. That barometer includes offensive linemen. Gone are the days of just knocking defenders off the ball and playing ‘bully ball’ like LSU and other SEC programs did for decades.
Now teams utilize a quick screen or run-pass option play where offensive linemen need to finish blocks down the field. Offensive linemen who miss opportunities to make just one block outside the hash marks might be missing a block that springs a wide receiver for an 80 yard score.
Kimo Makaneole, LSU’s most recent commitment, absolutely possesses this type of versatility. The 6-foot-4, 285-pound offensive lineman from Niceville (Fla.) High School provides the tools to play offensive tackle or offensive guard.
Playing for Niceville, a really good program in the panhandle of Florida, Makaneole received quality coaching. It helped him show good balance after contact, good hand placement for a high school player, and a player that simply goes hard play after play. First, let’s discuss his agility, Makaneole’s best attribute.
As the video clip below will illustrate, Makaneole’s ability to reach the outside defender with quickness and agility, despite being the bigger player, proved he has the skills to be an offensive tackle despite not being the prototypical 6-foot-7 so many college coaches covet.
His explosion out of his stance, his ability to drive block in open space, and his power all came into play. He’s an aggressive blocker with the skillset to punish defenders. Most importantly, his first step showed quickness that most offensive tackles do not possess. Here’s a good example of Makaneole’s ability to block an edge defender.
Another key component of Makaneole’s game would be his ability to drive block. He’s different from some offensive linemen because he uses quickness to shock and overwhelm defenders as much as he uses his raw power. Powerful upon contact, Makaneole’s agility combined with power make him a really good pulling blocker or down hill blocker.
This is a man that will be good in short yardage, and he can be good at pass protection or drive blocking. His quickness will help him climb to the second level to make blocks, as well as simply beating the defensive lineman to the point of attack out of his stance.
Makaneole’s skillset is diverse. He’s going to be really interesting to watch his development. So many different position possibilities with a talent like him. Here’s a look at Makaneole’s full highlight video, as it’s a good way to truly see his overall physical talent.
Now the question becomes, where does LSU need Makaneole to play? Will it be best to start him out at guard or tackle? While many project Makaneole to play offensive guard, he should in fact start out at offensive tackle. Here’s why.
The offensive tackle position has been and will continue to be very important. Especially in the SEC where talented edge rushers that can change games are on at least half the rosters, offensive tackles come at a premium.
Makaneole provides the agility and quickness to stay with those edge rushers, as well as a tenacity to punish them when possible (see full highlights for countless examples).
Niceville is not a team that continually throws the football. That does not mean Makaneole does not already have a good pass set, however. He actually does a good job of not over extending his upper body over his feet and becoming unbalanced. What’s still even more important to note, again, would be the physical tools.
The LSU coaching staff will teach Makaneole how to pass protect within their system. He definitely has the ability to be an offensive tackle, so it’s a great place to start him out during his freshman season. Not saying he cannot be an offensive guard as well, but offensive tackle needs to be examined first because of Makaneole’s raw talent.
Beyond his ability to take that first explosive step, Makaneole’s actual foot speed is rare for a big man. He runs more like a defensive lineman than an offensive lineman. He’s nimble.
That’s going to be important moving forward. LSU loves to run screens, and LSU will ask its offensive linemen to pull and block in space against talented athletes that are much smaller than the offensive linemen. Makaneole can make those types of blocks.
In short, Makaneole fits the type of athletic and mobile offensive lineman that LSU needs to run the spread offense. The Tigers landed a player that’s capable of playing multiple positions along the offensive line, and he helps to fill a big need for the Tigers. Great pickup for LSU.