The state of Minnesota isn’t littered with blue chip recruits every year and the 4 and 5 star recruits they do have are often targeted by schools with a more glamorous tradition and a higher level of success than the in-state Golden Gophers.
That’s why it’s a very big deal that Jerry Kill and his staff were able to land a player like Eden Prairie linebacker Carter Coughlin. Even with national champion Ohio State after him, they were able to convince him to stay home to get his degree and play college football.
They are getting a very good football player who could play multiple roles for them at the next level. Coughlin has the chance to develop into one of the Big Ten’s best linebackers.
Coughlin is an elite athlete at the position and produced one of the highest SPARQ scores in the nation at The Opening regional in Chicago. He shows outstanding speed and lateral agility. He has long arms and a great frame, but needs to get a lot stronger and add weight at the next level. I would not be surprised to see him end up playing at close to 240 pounds later in his career at Minnesota.
Being a great athlete is important, but it means nothing if a linebacker is slow reacting or recognizing plays. That is not the case at all with Coughlin. He is a very instinctive player who trusts what he sees, then is able to attack with his great speed.
I was really impressed with what I saw from him as an inside linebacker. He did a great job of working through the muck to find the football and beating blocker to their spot, which left him unblocked and able to chase down ball carriers. His ability to move laterally really helps in this area. When he arrives to the football, he is a solid tackler that wraps up well on contact.
The one thing he needs to greatly improve on, like most young linebackers, is to use his hands better to get off block. He can let a high school offensive lineman in Minnesota get to his chest at the second level, but he won’t be as fortunate to get off blocks so easily in the Big Ten if they get to him.
He’s a very good blitzer that does a great job of not stopping his feet on contact and fighting through the block. He also does a great job of making himself skinny to slip through cracks and puts himself in a position to make plays.
He also lined up on the edge on occasion and even had his hand in the ground at times. He flashes some ability as a pass rusher off the edge, but was not very good with his hands. He didn’t bring a punch and didn’t have any real pass rush moves other than to rip and run. He was often lined up head up on an offensive tackle, which didn’t really help him. He would be much better suited to play standing up and lined up much wider to use that great speed.
He was a much more instinctive player off the ball than when lined up on the edge. He did not know how to take on the trap if it came his way and was not used to dealing with lineman at the point of attack. He looked much more comfortable lined up off the ball.
He flashed fluidity in his drops in coverage and showed the ball skills to intercept the football. I wanted to see more of him play in coverage, but I’m sure I’ll get a closer look at him doing so at The Opening finals in July.
His best fit as Minnesota is likely at Will backer. If he can be protected, he can be an outstanding hit and run linebacker that will make a ton of tackles.
I think Coughlin is a bit underrated nationally because of where he is from and he has the potential to end up as one of the top linebackers coming out of this recruiting class. I would not be surprised to see him develop into on the top defensive players in the Big Ten before his college career wraps up and he should have an outstanding career at Minnesota.
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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).