This post continues a series reviewing our 2011 recruiting class. Today we're talking about LBs.
Cedrick Cooper, OLB. Cooper hails from Lithonia, GA, and had offers from Tennessee, Clemson, Arkansas, and a handful of other mid-tier SEC and ACC programs. At 6'2 / 205, he likely needs some time in the weight room before he'll be ready to play LB at the SEC level. However, I'm fairly impressed with his abilities after watching his videos. He has impressive football instincts and great awareness. He seems to have a good sense of when to pursue and when to contain, which will be important for a guy we'll likely use in a pass-rush role. He can also lay a nice hit. I wouldn't be surprised if he sees a little playing time next year, considering our depth at LB. I'm probably most impressed with Cooper out of our LB prospects.
Mason Harris, OLB. Harris hails from Ridgeland, GA, and had offers from Kentucky and Miami; you might remember that he seemed to be seriously considering the Hurricanes shortly before Signing Day before finally staying with Carolina. Harris is a little closer than Cooper to SEC LB size and actually played DE in high school. I was impressed with his speed and pursuit abilities, but his lack of experience at OLB makes me think that he'll likely need some time to learn the position, work on pass coverage skills, etc. That said, like Cooper, I wouldn't be surprised to see him get a little PT next year due to our lack of depth at LB.
Edward Muldrow, OLB. Muldrow hails from Snellville, GA, and had a fairly impressive offer list that included Clemson, Arkansas, both Mississippi schools, and even recruiting powerhouse Florida St. He shows great potential as a pass rusher, displaying both impressive pursuit speed and nice arm length for knocking down passes. However, at a trim 6'3 / 190, he has the body of a basketball player and needs to put on some weight. He might have the most upside of this group of players, but I'm not sure how likely it is that we'll see him on the field next year. Anything's possible for us at LB, though.
Marcquis, Roberts, OLB. Roberts is from Powder Springs, GA, and had offers from Mississippi St., USF, Wisconsin, and a handful of mid-tier ACC programs. Although listed as an OLB and definitely still small for the position at 6'1 / 205, he might have a shot at being an ILB. He looks very good in run support, has good field awareness, and tackles well. This is another guy I could see getting on the field a bit next year.
Angelo Watley, OLB. Watley is from Suwanee, GA. He drew some interest from Auburn, but Rivals lists USC as his only offer, which may be because he committed to Carolina early in the process, leading to less interest from other programs. Watley played DL in high school, and at 230, he might be a great choice for a move to ILB. He looks good in pursuit and tackles well. Again, I wouldn't be surprised to see him see a little PT next year.
Grade: C+. I'm a little torn about this group of players. On the one hand, we signed a big class that should give us a solid foundation in future years. On the other hand, though, considering that we're looking at not having a lot of depth at the position next year, it would have been nice to see us pursue a JUCO prospect or two who could come in and give us quality playing time right away. Moreover, this group is mostly composed of smallish OLB prospects. Where are the legit run-stoppers? It's also noticeable that these guys are all from Georgia but none of them received offers from Georgia or GA Tech. They're all solid prospects, but this really should tell you something; these guys are all viewed as projects, not bluechippers that the in-state powerhouses drooled over. Lastly, although a lot of us blew off Lateek Townshend for his antics when he committed to Clemson, when you look at who we signed at LB, you see that it would have really helped our class to have nabbed Townshend.