With the (re-) release of the 2011 Athlon Consensus 100, and for the first time in the brief four-year history of the truest and most accurate high school recruiting top 100, the nation's No. 1 prospect has been selected totally unanimously. Seven of the hardest-working, most sophisticated scouting sites on the web each spent thousands of hours watching internet film, talking with coaches and scouting in person the best that America has to offer in 2011. And they all agreed that one player stood above the rest.
For the first time in the brief four-year history of the AC100 (2008-present), every first place vote went to the same player.
Athlon Consensus 2011 No. 1 prospect:Jadeveon Clowney
Hometown: Rock Hill, S. Car.
High School: South Pointe H.S.
As a senior, Clowney was unstoppable. He registered 162 tackles, 29 tackles for loss, 29.5 sacks, 11 forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and scored five touchdowns. He won the South Carolina Mr. Football Award as well as Area Defensive Player of the Year honors. Clowney posted 24 sacks as a junior and 10 as a sophomore.
What he can do:
Clowney is a dominant edge player with great length and athleticism. He has terrific quickness off the ball and gets into the blocker to eliminate their ability to use leverage against him. He plays with urgency and a motor. His ability to chase down the ball is outstanding. Once he gets turned, his “run down” speed is one of his greatest attributes. He also shows signs of good hand speed and strength.
Clowney is able to get penetration and be disruptive in the backfield. Whether he sets the edge or not, his agility and acceleration allows him to pursue to the boundary and will limit the opponent’s success outflanking the defense.
JD, as he’s called, also uses his basketball type body and skills to get up to block passes and affect passing lanes.
What he needs to improve:
Pad level is first and foremost. Like most tall and long players protecting their chest is a big concern. At the next level he’ll see some long armed offensive tackles with feet that will “lock on” and control his energy and impose their will. Once he learns to play with more leverage and use his hands and arm length to keep blockers off his body he will limit their chances to contain him.
Right now JD relies mostly on speed and a swim move. As he develops a rip move and uses his quickness and body lean to go inside or out he’ll be difficult to block versus the pass or run. Jadeveon’s redirect is a symptom of his length. It takes him time to gather plant and explode to change direction.
What he’ll get to:
The sky is the limit. There are certain improvements he’ll undoubtedly make. In a big time weight program JD will get bigger, stronger and faster. The coaching at the next level will help him develop all his tools to be a dominant pass rusher and be tough to run away from for sure. Clowney’s biggest improvements will need to come against the run game right at him as well as counter and reverse action where the offense will try to use his straight line speed against him. As he develops the discipline to set the edge to his side and play within the defensive schemes his opportunities to dominate will be more likely.
What are his expectations:
A freshman contributor and maybe a starter as a weak or field end as the season progresses. A sophomore starter and possible all league player. As a junior he’ll dominate his half of the field and maybe an early entrant to the NFL draft.
What could go wrong:
If he doesn’t take the coaching and/or isn’t willing to pay the price in the weight room, the film room and the class room. If the experts are right, it appears Jadeveon will attend South Carolina or Alabama. At South Carolina he’ll be coached by - Brad Lawing who has coached outstanding defensive ends like, Eric Norwood, current linebacker for the Carolina Panthers and current linebacker for the Detroit Lions, Julian Peterson.
At Alabama he’ll be coached by – Chris Rumph in his first year with the Crimson Tide and who played for South Carolina. For the last five years he’s coached the ends at Clemson. Rumph has coached standouts as Da'Quan Bowers at Clemson who led the nation in sacks and tackles for a loss in 2010 as a junior and Phillip Merling a defensive end with the Miami Dolphins.
Regardless of which school JD chooses and when he will be a difference maker in the recruiting classes national ranking as well as almost for sure the lucky school’s rankings by the BCS pollsters.
It is likely an announcement will come on his birthday, Feb. 14 - nearly two weeks after National Signing Day (Feb. 2).