Jaquan Yulee isn’t going to be a fit in every defense. There is a trend of having uber athletic, but less physical, inside linebackers in college football and it all is in response to the speed of opposing offenses.
There is still room in the game for players like Yulee though. He has the tools to be an intimidator in the middle of a defense and will be a great fit with the right program.
He’s built to play linebacker at the college level right now. The only thing you worry about with him is possibly getting too big. He already shows a little stiffness with his lateral movement and doesn’t do a great job of dropping his hips, so it could be an issue. He has solid straight line speed and acceleration.
Yulee plays with a fire and intensity that is required to play the position. He can be an intimidating hitter and is not someone teams will want to run at inside. He will take on anything run right at him violently.
He has decent instincts and works through the muck well to find the football, but I’d like to see him be a bit more decisive and recognize plays sooner. He’ll need to do that because he doesn’t have the lateral movement to make up for any false steps. As usual for most high school linebackers, he is running free on a lot of plays and is not having to take on offensive linemen very often at the second level. When he does have to, he will bring violence, which is great, but needs to use his hands better to disengage. He will expose his chest and won’t be able to get away with that as much at the college level where he could get eaten up no matter how violently he takes on guards in the run game.
He needs to improve fundamentally as a tackler. He doesn’t drop his hips enough and will get caught looking for the big hit while over pursuing the ball. He is strong enough to grab cloth and secure the tackle at his current level, but stronger players will break those tackles in college.
He flashes the ability to be a devastating blitzer and will explode through creases when they are there. I would like to see him get skinny more to beat offensive lineman than trying to run through them when the creases aren’t there.
He shows pretty good ball skills in coverage, but gets too caught up in staring down the quarterback. He doesn’t have the awareness that I’d like to see. That should hopefully come in time the more reps he gets when he gets to the next level. He is too high in his drops and can be stiff when changing directions.
He is a Mike backer and I think his best fit is playing in a 3-4.
I worry about inside linebackers that are already 240 plus pounds before their senior year of high school because there is a limit as to how big these players can get when having to play linebacker against so many spread offenses. In saying that, I still think Yulee could end up being a very good middle linebacker in the right defense he plays with the kind of swagger that I would love to coach. If he chooses the right scheme fit, he will be a very productive player over his college career.
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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).