A lot of people get caught up in highlights when watching high school recruits, but I love watching the game by game progression of athletes. Sometimes it’s tough to remember that these kids with so many scholarship offers are still really young and aren’t anywhere near maxed out as to the type of players they can be.
Safety Devin Studstill is a perfect example. He did a lot of nice things early in his junior year, but at some point the light switch turned on and he took it to another level. I’m excited to see what kind of jump he is going to make with his senior film this fall.
Studstill is a good, but not great, athlete. He doesn’t have the top end speed to run with burners at receiver, but has solid acceleration in his first few steps. He has a bit of twitch to his movement. He is slim right now, but has the frame to carry more and should be able to get to over 200 pounds. He has the kind of length that defensive back coaches love in a defensive back.
Being a competent safety begins and ends with being a good tackler and that’s exactly what Studstill is. He isn’t a thumper in terms of impact, he consistently tackles well in space and takes good angles to the football. He never catches and puts himself exactly where he needs to.
His instincts versus the run and versus the short passing game are exceptional as well. He trusts his eyes and attacks. He even uses his length well to create separation from blocker and disengage to get to the football.
I saw him lose his technique with his backpedal in coverage a few times. He rushed and his footwork got a little sloppy and that made him transition a bit slower. He didn’t open up his hip smoothly either when this happened.
As the season progressed, he looked like a different player. He was always physical in man coverage, but he was in way more control because his technique was better. He should be able to match up well with bigger receivers/tight ends fairly well.
He did a really nice job in zone and put himself in a position to make plays because of his instincts. He looked more explosive as an athlete when breaking on the football later in the season, but I think it had more to do with him being confident and more decisive. He attacks the football in the air and has solid ball skills.
I think he has the instincts to play free safety, but not the athletic ability to play as a single high safety. He can be a split the field safety and also drop down and play in the box as well.
I think Studstill has the chance to be a really good starting safety at the college level if he continues the leap he made late in his junior year and it carries over into his senior season. His instincts make up for his lack of elite athleticism and I think he could be a player who starts for multiple seasons.
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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).