SIAA Superlatives: Best Offensive Fits
Near the conclusion of each and every recruiting cycle, the recruiting industry is often faced with similar questions, mainly which top prospects are ready to make that instant impact the following year at the collegiate level.
In order to have a chance to make that freshman year splash, we at SI All-American feel the fit between prospect and program has to be on point. Fit can fall under many broad definitions in the projection business, but we’d like to see some sort of combination of similar precedent, evidence of scheme translation, ideal fit with a position coach and of course the physical build and ability to contend with college players sooner rather than later.
In the spirit of looking ahead, here are some of the best college football prospect fits on offense in the class of 2021.
Preston Stone - Committed to SMU
Named a top 10 quarterback prospect in the class of 2021 by SI All-American in July, Stone was also represented on the top recruiting surprises list to this point in the recruiting cycle. But spurning the Power Five for the Group of Five has nothing to do with fit, and his pledge to SMU makes more sense by the day. The Mustangs fill it up with tempo and passing volume and there may not be a prep passer in America better suited to hit the ground running for Sonny Dykes and company than Stone. He will be a four-year high school starter local to the SMU campus at Parish Episcopal High having already attempted more than 1,000 passes with great production along the way. Stone's completion percentage, critical in setting the tone for any uptempo attack, has increased each year as a starter in compiling 110 touchdown passes thus far. But where the fit hits home is with his ability to operate the spread as a runner as needed, accounting for nearly 900 yards and 11 scores in 2019.
Ricky Parks - Committed to Utah
A late June pledge to the Utes, this productive Florida back will head to Kyle Whittingham's program physically ready to compete for carries at 5-foot-10, 200 pounds on a compact, well-proportioned frame. Utah's all-time rushing leader Zack Moss, also from the Sunshine State, entered the program with a strikingly similar frame before carving out a four-year bell cow role for the Pac-12 program known most for establishing the run (74 more attempts than any other program in 2019 and only program to average 200-plus yards on the ground). Like Moss, Parks is a low center of gravity prospect who is at home in between the tackles with great vision, patience and footwork while willing to deliver punishment on contact. The similarities and fit make just as much sense in the passing game, where each is plenty comfortable not only protecting the passer as a blocker, but making defenders miss in space more than their classic running back frames would suggest. The two are even similar in the overall mentality and speed department.
Troy Franklin - Committed to Oregon
While Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal is a renowned offensive line coach, he still appears to understand the Ducks have traditionally been most successful when they had great speed on the perimeter, especially offensively. New offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead prefers a mid-range passing attack with a good blend of explosive vertical concepts that take advantage of matchups, spacing and speed. Simply put: Franklin has speed in spades. Initially, we felt in the spring he had the skill set of a slot receiver prospect, but as we continued to study him more and more on tape, we now strongly feel he can win outside as an off-ball Z-type receiver. Franklin has reportedly grown to be in the 6-foot-2 range, and has good foot quickness to detach from coverage, plus he’s got good RAC traits. Yet, his speed will allow him to be a consistent threat to back ends in the Pac-12, as he has the makings of a dynamic receiver in the vertical passing game. Toss in the fact that he will be joined in Eugene by strong-armed Oregon QB commit Ty Thompson, and you start to see why we like the fit here.
Jabez Tinae - Committed to Washington
Tinae has an array of positives going for him that project a good fit at U-Dub. First, his high school QB is elite passing prospect Sam Huard, who is also committed to Washington. The two are already a potent combination at Kennedy Catholic (Wash.), so their chemistry, timing and familiarity have already been developed since the pair arrived together as high school freshmen. Next, new Washington head coach Jimmy Lake hired John Donovan to run the offense in Seattle earlier this year and install additional NFL concepts and add to an already solid offensive attack that former head coach Chris Petersen established. Tinae is among the most polished slot route-runners in the country, so he should require little time learning the nuances of the Huskies’ passing game route tree. Staying home? Check. High school QB throwing to him in college? Check. Polished route-running traits? Check. Good fit? You bet.
Mason Brotherton - Committed to Kansas
Kansas Tight Ends coach Joshua Eargle just so happens to also be the staff’s Recruiting Coordinator, and Brotherton appears to be his hand-picked pupil in this class. We feel Brotherton is a classic. rugged Y-Tight End prospect at nearly 6-foot-5 and over 240 pounds. His big frame and strength allows him to work well as an in-blocker in the run game, and he has enough athleticism to red-light and stay in to help offensive tackles in pass protection. The future Jayhawk has good mitts to get schemed in the seams in the mid-range passing game as well. Also, head coach Les Miles has a tight ends background that goes back to his time spent on the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff. Brotherton’s size and skill set, along with being tutored by Eargle and some periodic seasoning from Miles himself, leads to him being a solid fit for the offense in Lawrence.
Garrett Dellinger - Committed to LSU
We don't need to spend time reminding folks what LSU's offense did in 2019. It was historic in just about every way en route to the national title and it did so with an experienced, versatile offensive line. The sole returning starter for that group, Austin Deculus, entered the program with similar size and traits compared to Dellinger before carving out a role as a swing tackle and then right tackle with great technique and footwork. The same can be said for the rising senior out of Clarkston (Mich.) High School. Dellinger has classic tackle movement skill with his urgency out of his stance and snap quickness. Footwork is a plus and experience at left tackle, utilizing his 45 degree pass set with consistent success, will enable him to remain on the edges even at a program like LSU's. The sole offensive line commitment for James Cregg to this point in the 2021 cycle will need to add some weight before debuting in Baton Rouge, but every other element of Dellinger's game screams great fit.
Interior Offensive Line
Connor Colby - Committed to Iowa
Having been committed to Iowa for more than a calendar year at this point, Colby appears to have made an excellent choice. Sure, the 6-foot-5, 270-pound Iowa native is staying in his home state. However, making his decision even better is the notion of head coach Kirk Ferentz is regarded by many as one of the very best offensive line tutors in football - college or pro. Iowa has routinely developed and produced solid offensive trenchmen for years under Ferentz, and Colby has the traits of another one. He bends well for a big man, as he currently works as an offensive tackle for Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Kennedy. The future Hawkeye has good athleticism and movement skills, which allow him to be productive in zone-blocking concepts and on the second level. His athleticism will give Ferentz and Iowa OL coach Tim Polasek a foundation to develop in pass-protection as well. Whether at guard or tackle, Colby has traits that should make him a valuable swing offensive lineman at a school that has traditionally developed players well at his position.
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Edwin Weathersby II and John Garcia, Jr. contributed to this feature.