High school tape isn’t the best when it comes to evaluating safeties to see if they can make the jump to the college level. It’s rare to ever get an all-22 type of look from the video guy and there end up being a lot of plays that you have to rewind over and over again to see that glimpse of the safety you are watching pop into the screen.
That’s the case a lot of the time when watching Kenney Lyke on film. You just want to see more to get a proper evaluation of him in all areas. What you do see from him is very encouraging though. That’s why programs like Penn State and Notre Dame have offered the Fremd High (Palantine, Illinois) product.
He has a long, lanky frame. On the hoof, he would look like more of a wide receiver prospect the way he is built than a safety. That’s not a bad thing though. He has a nice frame and should be able to add weight and has awesome length for the position.
He has good straight line speed and acceleration, but isn’t an twitchy athlete.
Lyke almost always lines up as a single high free safety and he does a great job of coming from depth to tackle in the run game. He takes aggressive angles to the football, wraps up, and hits through on contact. You never see him catching on contact when he hits a ball carrier.
He does seem to be focused mostly on the action in the backfield and I did see him get sucked in on what looked like a zone read play, but actually was a counter trey going back the other way. Diagnosing running plays based on what the linemen are doing is the next step for him to improve in run support.
It’s more difficult to get a read on Lyke in coverage because there is more that you’d like to see in terms of his film and what he was asked to do. Because he was that single high safety so often, you’d rarely see him in man coverage and almost everything was thrown in front of him with him coming down hill. He showed he can be a physical presence after the receiver makes the catch.
The only time he strayed from that single high position was when when the offense went three receivers to one side and he was lined up at least ten yards off each time.
What I did see from him was some inconsistency with his technique and him getting a bit too high in his backpedal and causing some clunkiness with his transitions. When he dropped his hips more, I saw him accelerate a lot better, but still didn’t get to see him open up enough.
I hope to see more of what he can do as a senior and how his ball skills as a receiver translate with him on defense.
Right now I think Lyke is a candidate to play free safety at the next level, but could be an in the box safety option as well.
Athletically, Lyke isn’t a wow prospect, but he is a really good football player that tackles really well. With a dearth of quality safeties at every level of football, that makes him a very valuable commodity and likely means he is going to be a valuable contributor for multiple years at the next level.
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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).