May 7, 2012

2013 In Depth: Offensive Tackles

One of the most overlooked, yet important, positions on the football field is the offensive line. We at Duck Sports Authority are very lucky to have an offensive line expert as a publisher as we get significantly better offensive line information than just about any fan base across the nation.

The headlines rarely talk about the accomplishments of the offensive line; they become an after-thought. In Oregon's complicated offensive scheme, the offensive linemen are critical to the success of the team. In our continuing in-depth look at the recruiting needs for the 2013 class, today we take a closer look at one of the most critical positions on a football field; offensive tackle. The offensive tackle creates a crease for runners and protects the quarterback from the defense. That can be difficult as it is, but when the offense runs a spread option, the tackle is even more critical.

Fortunately, Oregon has one of the best offensive line coaches in the nation and he recognizes the importance his unit plays to Oregon's overall offensive success.

Evan Voeller

Status: Offered, Committed

Overview: Voeller first entered the minds of DSA readers in June of 2011 with a strong showing at the Eugene Nike Camp. Then just a sophomore, Voeller showed great potential with his size and skills. What stands out most is that as a sophomore Voeller tipped the scales at 6-4 and 285 pounds. He has the size you cannot coach and overall good skills at the position.

Entering his senior year, Voeller is ranked the 16th best offensive tackle in the nation and the 145th overall player in the nation.

Strengths: Voeller is a multi faceted lineman with the ability to pull when asked as well as seal the corner when needed. On film, Voeller never gives up on the block until the whistle blows. He will continue his block or continue to look for another block as the play progresses. In a fast paced offense like Oregon's this can be crucial to the team's success. He sets in decent position and has good explosion off the snap getting into the defender very well.

Weaknesses: The one thing that stands out at first glance is that Voeller does not have the size most football fans have come to expect out of an offensive tackle. He is not midget at 6-4, but that is short by offensive tackle standards at times. On film, Voeller uses his size and strength advantage he has very well, but he does not always use his hands as efficiently as he will need to at the college level. That is an easy adjustment, though, for coaches to make. Given Coach Steve Greatwood's propensity for moving offensive linemen around, Voeller could end up just about anywhere on the offensive line.

DSA Odds: COMMITMENT

Voeller committed to the Ducks on April 30. Voeller is a welcome early addition to the 2013 class and is seen as a solid commit.

Jake Campos

Status: Offered, Medium Interest

Overview: Jake Campos, from Des Moines, Iowa, has a more protypical height for an offensive tackle at 6-7. On film he is an aggressive blocker who plays hard and uses his hands very well. His listed weight, though, is more tight end like at 245 pounds. Watching him, though, there is no doubt that he is an offensive lineman.

Strengths: Campos has extremely high energy and really comes off the snap hard and with a purpose. He appears to truly enjoy blocking. Like Voeller, Campos is very adept at blocking until the whistle blows. He is often seen continuing his block long after the ball carrier has passed his assignment. In one play, after the running back goes by the defender Campos is blocking, Campos continues to turn him towards the opposite end zone and drive him at least 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage.

Weaknesses: Campos has prototypical height for a tackle, but not the weight. Campos will need, at the very least, 40-45 pounds to be an effective tackle at the Division I level. He has the right frame and could be a true monster with the additional weight. He comes out of his stance a little high at times and needs to work on pad level to be more effective against DI defensive linemen.

DSA Odds: Low The first strike of distance can always be a factor. Campos being from Iowa makes his recruitment difficult. In a recent interview, Campos is also quoted as saying he plans to major in either Civil or Environmental Engineering which Oregon does not offer. Campos plans on several unofficial visits over the late spring and summer with a commitment by the beginning of his senior year before football season begins. At this point, the chances the Ducks land this talented lineman look to be less than 10%.

Nico Falah

Status: Offered, Medium Interest

Overview: Falah is on record as saying he wants to play in the Pac-12 conference. With offers from all but Stanford int eh conference, you can be pretty sure that he will get his wish. He has good size at 6-5 and 270 pounds and is ranked as the 27th best offensive tackle in the nation and the number 216 player overall.

Strengths: Falah is very quick when he pulls and has good explosion out of his stance. He moves well for his size. He has exceptional footwork for his level and will be easy to coach up once he arrives at a college campus. He has a great frame and certainly does not look like he will have any difficulty adding 30-35 pounds to that frame.

Weaknesses: Falah does not always play through the whistle. He is inconsistent at times with his intensity. You'll see him in some film really going after the defender and not quitting until the whistle blows while at other times he seems to make one block and then let up on the play.

DSA Odds: Medium Falah has said he wants to play close to home, but has not ruled out going out of state; so long as the school he chooses is in the Pac-12 conference. His father went to UCLA but did not play ball for the Bruins. Falah has not named a leader. DSA would put his odds at becoming a Duck at 25-33%


Sean Harlow

Status: Offered, Medium Interest

Overview: Harlow blocks like he is angry at the defender. When you see him on film, he blocks everyone as if they were a 300 pound defensive line standout; even when he scrapes off to a smaller player. He blocks with a mean steak at times that Oregon fans are not necessarily used to at this point in time. Harlow has good size at 6-5 and 260 pounds. He is not rated nationally at his position. His early rating from Rivals gave him three stars.

Strengths: The mean streak Harlow blocks with can be very helpful at the next level. He has exceptional looking feet and hips. He pulls extremely well and also looks like he can maul a defender inside when needed.

Weaknesses: Blocking angry is not always a great thing if you don't know when to stop. In one highlight Harlow commits a late hit penalty and the flag is thrown during the highlight!. Harlow rarely continues his blocks through the whistle. Frequently he is seen making the initial block and when the defender sheds the block, Harlow simply walks towards the direction of the play rather than hustling. He rarely looks for a second block.

DSA Odds: Low to good Harlow visited the state of Oregon and the University of Oregon specifically during March. He has been to Oregon State twice. While he talked glowingly about their coaches and players, he did not get a chance to see any Duck players during his visit to Eugene. At this point the odds Harlow becomes a Duck are in the 15-25% range.


J.D. Hinnant

Status: Offered, Medium Interest

Overview: Hinnant is similar in size to Harlow at 6-5, 265. J.D. Looks a little thicker in his lower body with thicker thighs and hips. He has a strong upper body and looks like a more "old-fashioned" offensive lineman.

Strengths: Hinnant is a mauler type run blocker. Once he gets his hands into the defender, he is very effective at keeping him off. He looks to have very strong hands. Some teams are looking at him as a guard and some as a tackle. His footwork would suggest guard or offside tackle. He can pull decently for his size and is tenacious with his blocking. Hinnant is another lineman that plays through the whistle and is always looking for another block.

Weaknesses: J.D Hinnant looks thick around the middle, but he does not appear to have a lot of room for growth in his lower body. He also looks to have slower footwork. On film, he looks to struggle some with pass protection on the edge.

DSA Odds: Good Hinnant has visited Oregon unofficially and had generally positive things to say about the Oregon program and Coach Greatwood. He is not getting as much attention from Oregon as from others, but there is a sense that if the Ducks put on a stronger push for Hinnant that the Ducks would be serious contenders for his commitment. At this point, the odds would be in the 30-35% RANGE THAT Hinnant becomes a Duck.

Riley Norman

Status: Not Offered, Medium Interest

Overview: The West Coast is light on offensive line talent in 2013. There is talent in this class is definitely there, but the Ducks may have to use their ever-growing national recruiting arm to find other linemen in this class. Riley Norman is one intriguing prospect out of the state of Michigan. Norman is massive at 6-7, 315 pounds. But don't let the size fool you, he is no "lumbering" giant; Norman has incredible athleticism.

Strengths: Norman is a very strong offensive tackle who can simply overpower just about any one of his opponents. But he is not all about mass; Norman is also very quick and, for a guy that weighs over 300 pounds, he is also fast. He can be seen on video pulling as a blocker and running down field nearly as fast as his running back. He gets to the edge in a hurry and does not slow down. Norman is also a very good track athlete placing second in the shot put at his state meet last spring. He has even been seen in a "Refrigerator Perry" role as a running fullback.

Weaknesses: Norman is raw from a technique standpoint. He will definitely need a redshirt year at just about any Division I school to work on footwork, hand fighting, pad level, etc. However, he is likely to make some coach very happy if he gets the right development.

DSA Odds: Low to Medium Norman has not been offered by the Ducks. In fact, he has received just one offer from Michigan State. With family ties to Michigan State, they may be tough to beat, but that does not mean the Ducks have no chance. With Greatwood's reputation and the Ducks offense playing into Norman's strengths, this could be a good match. Still, the odds at the Ducks offering and landing this prospect are in the 10-15% range at this point in time.

FINAL THOUGHTS: In our initial look at the recruiting needs for 2013, Duck Sports Authority projected that the Ducks would likely look to add 2-3 high school players and possibly a junior college tackle. At this point, there does not appear to be a reason to suspect anything different. The Ducks lose three offensive tackles after the 2013 season and will likely be looking to add the same number back in and maybe one additional. With the versatility that Coach Greatwood gets out of his linemen, it is not out of the question to have some enter as tackles and move once they arrive on campus.



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