Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Another 2008 Commitment - Ryan Baker

LSU picked up a surprise commitment yesterday from a Florida linebacker whose stock is rapidly rising. I say "surprise" because frankly I had never heard of Ryan Baker until yesterday evening. He is a 3-star (but that's going up) linebacker out of Blountstown, Florida, 6'0" 210#. His 40 time is listed at 4.55, but he looks faster than that on his videos.

Speaking of videos, his videos are darn impressive. He is definitely a little small to be a linebacker, but he plays like a Trev Faulk or a Buster Davis, who were also small linebackers. He patiently waits until there is a lane between him and the ball-carrier, and then he explodes to the ball, always bringing down his man. He is both patient and aggressive, not to mention a sure tackler. If he's really a 4.55 or 4. guy, he gets to top speed very very quickly. He's explosive.

For what it's worth, he also looks like a very solid fullback on the offensive side of the ball, but he says he's being recruited as a linebacker.

One thing that you have to be concerned about with him is his ability to fight off blocks. He's pretty small right now, and I doubt he'll ever be a 260 pound bruising linebacker. He'll have linemen and bigger fullbacks trying to block him. The difference between him being a star and him being "depth" is his ability to fight off blocks. If he has to rely on defensive linemen to occupy blockers for him, we may not be able to really rely on him as an every-down linebacker. If he's going to be able to fight off or avoid blockers, he could be a special player.

To me, he looks a lot like the kind of player Auburn has had a lot of success with in the last few years: undersized for his position, but quick and athletic. At the very least, with his sure and explosive tackling, he looks like he'll very quickly be making contributions to the kick/punt coverage teams, much like Harry Coleman did.

Immediately before his commitment, Rivals labeled him a "Stock Up" player, suggesting they are going to be increasing his rather low rating at their next update period.

Rumor also has it that we received a commitment from Texas linebacker Kyle Prater, but that is unconfirmed.

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