Live Scouting Evaluation: No. 8 RB Brendon Barrow
A prospect SI All-American is perhaps higher on than others is running back Brendon Barrow, of Clearwater (Fla.) Academy International, whom we have slotted at the No. 8 spot in our RB rankings for the 2021 class.
SI All-American attended Barrow's highly anticipated matchup against Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade-Madonna last Friday night. We'd been looking forward to seeing Barrow run against one of the better defensive units in the state of Florida, and we came away with some interesting thoughts.
We got to see Barrow up close during pregame warmups to see him on the hoof. Listed at 5-foot-8 and 175 pounds, Barrow has an incredibly defined physique and tightly-wound frame. His arms and torso are cut through his abdomen, resulting in a strong and compact build.
The Stanford commit mentioned to us that he's fighting through a slight hamstring injury, though we wouldn't have noticed if he hadn't disclosed this information.
Through the night, it was somewhat surprising to us that Clearwater Academy preferred a gap/man-scheme rushing attack with Barrow. Their run game featured both shotgun and pistol alignments, with jet motion and pulling offensive lineman to disrupt opposing second-level defenders' eyes and keys. We liked how Barrow consistently sunk his hips and decreased his pad level in his line-of-scrimmage approaches. This allowed him to hide behind his blockers while working his vision and mental processing.
An impressive carry by Barrow early in the game came on a 45-yard TD run from a pistol alignment. Clearwater Academy wrapped a blocker from the right side of its front to dig-out a defender, and the concept called for Barrow to "bang" the run inside for likely an expected average gain. However, he had other plans. Exemplifying interior punch ability and contact balance, the future Cardinal punched through an inside collision point vs. challenging defenders before smoothly reaching another gear to sprint to the end zone. These traits also showed up later in the game on another chunk-run for Barrow, where he displayed post-contact burst and long speed.
Another aspect of Barrow's game that we loved from our spring tape work on him earlier this year was his ability to factor in the passing game. For most RB prospects this merely includes being schemed into swings, flats, angles and screen packages. Yet Barrow can do more, in fact, to the point where he could be viewed as a slot receiver prospect by some observers.
Clearwater deployed Barrow to the slot as No. 2 in a twins set on a key play in the game. The concept appeared to us as a post-wheel combination, with the outside receiver stemming vertically before breaking to the post. Barrow ran the wheel from the inside 2 position. After he squared his pads upfield on his secondary release, Barrow showed natural hands at the catch-point along with a smooth transition to the RAC-phase before racing to paydirt for a 55-yard TD reception.
Barrow added another TD run in the tight-zone later in the matchup to cap off a high-octane night. He will indeed need to be more consistent at opening his basket at mesh-points at the college level. We also feel Barrow is a bit more of a weaver than a quick-cut wiggler when it comes to elusive traits.
Nonetheless, we expect him to be a productive player as both a runner and receiver for Stanford's multiple offense, while adding value as an option in the return-game.
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