It’s amazing that so many of the talented edge rusher prospects that are great athletes are also slow reacting off the football. They are fast runners, but don’t react like they should when the ball is snap.
Antonneous Clayton is one of the exceptions. He’s a great athlete for the position and gets off the football like gangbusters. He has offers from some of the top schools in the nation and could end up being the best pass rusher to emerge from the 2016 recruiting class.
Clayton has the height and length that programs are looking for in an edge rusher, but needs to add weight and get a lot stronger. He has the frame to easily get to 240 pounds plus at the next level. He’s an explosive athlete for the position. Possibly the most explosive recruit at the position in the nation.
I haven’t seen another player in this recruiting cycle with a first step better than Clayton’s. He is so quick off the ball and often beats his man before his man has a chance to even flinch. It’s what make him so great as a pass rusher. He beats players with pure speed and quickness.
He needs the other things to go along with it as a pass rusher though. He often jumps into swim move to get by an offensive tackle and does not know how to use his hands well. He needs to learn how to knock away the hands of his opponent and consistently attack half the man instead of taking a player head on. When he does take the half the man, he has shown the ability to dip and bend around the edge.
His explosiveness off the ball can’t be taught, but the other elements of being a pass rusher can. It’s why his potential is so great.
He is raw versus the run. He shows good effort and the ability to make plays from the backside in pursuit, but he isn’t instinctive in terms of the blocks he is seeing. That’s why he can get reached sometimes because he doesn’t adjust to the block.
He needs to deliver a better punch and play with better pad level as well. He’s already light, so if his pad level doesn’t improve, he is going to get bullied at the point of attack by offensive lineman.
He is a weakside defensive end in a 4-3, but could play as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 as well. His first step is good, though, that I would always want his hand in the dirt so he could attack up the field.
Clayton has the potential to be a dynamic pass rusher at the next level, but needs to refine some things in order to be that. He also has to get a lot stronger and play with better leverage to be more than just a nickel pass rusher. If he does those things, though, he could end up being an All-American caliber player at the college level and will have a definite future playing football after college.
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Jamie Uyeyama was a way too small defensive tackle at Idaho State University and a more appropriately sized rush end at Simon Fraser University. He was a coach at the college and high school level and is the son of Ron Uyeyama, a member of the Delta Sports Hall of Fame and high school football coach for over 30 years (hence the site name, Son of a Coach).