SIAA Superlatives: Most Versatile Prospects in the Class of 2021
John Garcia, Jr.
As college football has become more wide open in its principles, from formations to the adaptation to the spread offense and defenses built to counter, versatility has become more and more valuable in the evaluation element of the game.
Those who can fit more than one role or aid multiple looks and/or packages beyond the primary position are that much more coveted and in-turn that much more likely to make that coveted instant impact college football fans clamor for in looking at the talent coming into their favorite program.
SI All-American shines light on some of the more versatile prospects in the class of 2021, listed alphabetically.
Brock Bowers, Napa (Calif.) High School
6-foot-3, 225 pounds
Committed to Georgia Monday, August 10
Versatility was a major reason Bowers has already been tabbed as the No. 1 H-Tight End in the class of 2021 by SI All-American, and it doesn't much effort once into his film to figure out why. From a literal standpoint, the uncommitted star lines up effectively at running back, fullback, H-back and of course in-line and detached tight end spots. His vision, change of direction skill and acceleration make him worthy of legitimate consideration for carries from the backfield or on gadget plays from the tight end spot at the next level. Bowers, who is linked most to Georgia at this stage of his recruitment, is also one of the best blocking tight ends in the class while of course holding his own as an actual pass catcher.
Billy Bowman, Denton (Texas) Billy Ryan
5-foot-10, 175 pounds
Committed to Texas
Beyond the fact that the future Longhorn can line up and legitimate contribute as a wide receiver or defensive back in the Big 12, you have to navigate through head-turning special teams action on Bowman's tape to get to his elite ability on offense or defense. He is a special return man at the prep level with that combination of instincts, speed and high risk that the best commonly posses. On offense, he's a steady wideout who works best in the slot based on quickness and ball skills. Defensively, Bowman shines brightest as a classic nickel back type, willing to play physical and support the run and underneath coverage while displaying enough technique and athleticism to hold up in man coverage as a true cornerback as needed.
Jojo Earle, Aledo (Texas) High School
5-foot-9.5, 170 pounds
Committed to LSU
Colleagues of ours at SIAA will confirm just how versatile Earle is on the day we released the top 10 slot receivers. Several expected the LSU commitment to be on the list given his size and arguably most common alignment in high school. Rightfully so, as he was under consideration before we settled on the Texan as a top 10 running back in the class based on his elite quickness, vision and ability to thrive in the run game and extension of the run game (jet sweeps, bubble screens, quick game, etc.). There just aren't many prospects in this class who would be no-brainer choices to make the case to be top 10 at two critical positions, speaking to Earle's true versatility and place on this list. We can see him factoring into the return game in Baton Rouge, too.
Ga'Quincy McKinstry, Pinson (Ala.) Pinson Valley
6-foot, 175 pounds
Considering Alabama, Auburn and LSU
More widely known as 'Kool-Aid' in the Birmingham area as well as on the national recruiting scene, McKinstry is versatile not only on the football field but in general. He is being courted by the three SEC West basketball programs at the same level he is as a coveted defense back on the football field after helping Pinson Valley to state titles in each sport. SIAA projects McKinstry as a long and lean cornerback with legitimate ball skills but his instincts and big-play ability work very well on offense at wide receiver on Friday nights, too. He may even be more polished on the offensive side of the ball at this stage, which says a lot considering he's arguably the most coveted uncommitted defensive back in the country. Kool-Aid can simply do it all on the perimeter.
JT Tuimoloau, Sammamish (Wash.) Eastside Catholic
6-foot-5, 280 pounds
Considering Washington, Ohio State, Stanford, USC, Alabama and others
In consideration for top overall prospect in the class of 2021, Tuimoloau has long belonged on any list showcasing versatility. There is an argument to be made for the elite athlete to be among the top tight end prospects in the country should offense become his focus. Also a basketball standout on the AAU scene, he shines most as an edge defender on defense. Even on that side of the ball, his versatility would theoretically be confirmed in just one series of action. Tuimoloau can line up as a second-level, off-ball linebacker on first down and support the run at 280 pounds. He could drop into coverage on second down and hang with just about any tight end in the country before pinning his ears back and getting after the quarterback on third down from a stand up or traditional defensive end stance. He is the type of prospect we had in mind when this feature was added to our content calendar, part of the reason college football's best are still after a commitment.
James Williams, Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage
6-foot-5, 214 pounds
Committed to Miami
Williams, who has dropped about 10 pounds since we saw him in person this spring, is dead set on playing in the secondary in college, at cornerback in particular. While we're not quite there yet on the island, he can absolutely hold his own one-on-one in coverage in a pinch. Even as the biggest defensive back among SI All-American candidates, he displays some of the best range, instincts and ball skills at the position enough to warrant consideration at safety, as a rover/nickel projection or even as a true three-level hybrid in the mold of 2019 Clemson All-American Isaiah Simmons. Williams may not be particularly polished in any one role, but a head-turning frame, elite length and enough speed to line up as the last line of defense creates dozens of possibilities for a college defensive coordinator.
Other Versatile Players of Note
LB/RB Will Latu - Washington Commitment - could command FBS attention as a steady and balanced running back but counters as a true three-down linebacker.
LB/WR Julien Simon - USC commitment - Arguably the top coverage linebacker in the class, came up as a dynamic wide receiver prospect with overall athleticism and RAC skill.
LB/RB Xavian Sorey - Uncommitted - Do-it-all athlete from Florida's panhandle with dominant running back and safety flashes on tape. Now at IMG Academy with a focus on projected linebacker position.
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