All-American Bowl: Mind of Gorney from Friday's combine
SAN ANTONIO - The All-American Bowl combine was held Friday inside the Alamodome and there was a good deal of talent during both sessions. Here are some thoughts from National Recruiting Analyst Adam Gorney on the day.
MORE ALL-AMERICAN BOWL: 20 top young prospects | Predicting the in-game announcements | Prospects give recruiting updates | Day 3 practice thoughts | Day 2 practice thoughts | Rival Views on TEs Arik Gilbert and Michael Mayer | Mind of Gorney on Media Day | Prospects that could earn a fifth star | Lavon Bunkley-Shelton | Jahmyr Gibbs | Dwight McGlothern | Bryan Bresee | Alfred Collins
SKINNER IS NEXT UP
South Carolina and Virginia Tech were really smart to offer 2022 receiver Jaleel Skinner early, because that way those two programs could have an edge on all the other national powerhouses that are going to get involved. He’s that good. At 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds, Skinner has incredible length and he can outreach small - or big - defensive backs for jump balls. He made more than a few impressive catches and he’s naturally athletic. Clemson is the dream school, and it would be a surprise if the Tigers don’t get involved with the Greer, S.C., star receiver.
FIDONE COULD MOVE UP
I’ve seen almost all the top 2021 tight ends nationally and I’d be hard pressed to not believe Thomas Fidone should be mentioned among the best in this class. First, he has tremendous size, he moves well, he’s getting stronger and he has excellent hands. The Council Bluffs (Iowa) Lewis Central School four-star just looks and plays like one of those next big-time tight ends in the Big Ten - whether it’s Iowa, Nebraska or some of the other schools he mentioned at media day - and someone who could be a star in the years to come.
ARKANSAS ON THE COME-UP
I was struck over the last two days - whether it was at registration day or at the combine - just how many elite Arkansas players are coming up in the 2021 and 2022 classes. It could be a huge boon for first-year coach Sam Pittman with the Razorbacks if he plays his cards right and keeps these top prospects in the state.
I liked 2022 Andrew Chamblee the most. He’s a 6-foot-7, 300-pound offensive tackle from Maumelle, Ark., who plays a lot like Texas A&M signee Chris Morris, a four-star in the 2020 class who is slightly bigger and longer.
Then there is 2021 three-star defensive tackle Tyas Martin from Jacksonville, Ark., a 6-foot-4, 315-pound recruit who plays like a bull in a china shop. Terry Wells, a 2021 offensive tackle from Wynne, Ark., landed an offer from the Razorbacks on Friday and that was definitely a wise move, because he looks great as well.
LEIGH LOOKS THE PART
When we’re evaluating younger offensive linemen, Tristan Leigh is pretty much what we’re looking for: A player who is not completely physically maxed out and a guy who can move, show great athleticism and toughness and who has a frame that can add good weight in the coming years. That is Leigh to the max.
The Fairfax (Va.) Robinson four-star also plays with a good mean streak and plays stronger than he looks, which was also impressive to see. He competed his butt off and was one of the best linemen in attendance. There are currently 21 offensive tackles ahead of him in the 2021 class - and it could be a very deep year for players at that position - but a bump up is not out of the question.
FIVE-STAR HAS POSITION PREFERENCE
J.T. Tuimoloau is not going to give away many secrets - and that’s because there aren’t much to give away, since he doesn’t have a visit schedule yet. With the clock turning to the 2021 class soon, though, the five-star defensive lineman from Sammamish (Wash.) Eastside Catholic is sitting down with his family soon to figure out where he wants to visit and when he can get to those schools.
No matter what, the important thing for coaches to know is that he really prefers to be an edge rusher over moving inside to defensive tackle. With his speed and finesse, it definitely makes sense. But he’s also 6-foot-4, 277-pounds and could still be growing, so sliding inside might not be out of the question. EIther way, he reminds me a lot of Arik Armstead, and that’s worked out pretty well.
SAUNDERS HAS HUGE INTRIGUE
When Kaden Saunders told me Penn State’s coaches told him they would utilize him like K.J. Hamler in the offense, I was a little skeptical. Sure. Of course, the comparison is to one of the best receivers in Penn State’s recent history, a dynamic playmaker almost every time he touches the ball.
Well, Saunders backed it up at the combine. The 2022 receiver from Westerville (Ohio) Westerville South said the Nittany Lions look best in his recruitment and one reason is because of the Hamler comp. He’s super-fast, dynamic, explosive and he ran by defenders all day. The two - Hamler and Saunders - have a slightly different build, but there’s no doubt Penn State could use him in the offense similarly.