There are very few true Mike linebackers left in football at any level and the good ones are even more rare.
Carter High’s Lokeni Toailoa looks like he can be one of the good ones at the college level. He’s already one of the top defensive recruits on the west coast and has interest from several national powers as well.
He looks much bigger than his listed weight and appears to have the frame to weigh much more. He has good straight line speed and is a powerful player. His lateral quickness is above average. Overall he is a very good, but not elite, athlete.
Toailoa is a devastating blitzer. His timing and ability to get skinny through creases is great, but it’s the way he explodes through the line on contact with a blocker that really makes him exceptional. He finishes plays when he blitzes as well with great speed in pursuit.
He shows good recognition skills and the ability to fight through blocks, but I would like to see him be a bit more decisive where he can get to plays sooner and have more hand violence when being forced to take on blocks. Part of the reason he may not be as decisive is because he can be too loose before the snap and could be a bit better prepared. That discipline should come with time and will make a difference.
He has good enough speed to be a sideline to sideline player and is also capable of playing well when plays are run right at him. He’s a solid tackler that wraps up and makes an impact on contact.
I didn’t get to see enough of him in coverage to get a gauge on how loose his hips are or to see what kind of awareness he has in zone. This is mostly because he blitzes often or lines up on the edge to rush the passer. He shows some solid potential off the edge as someone who can convert speed to power, but lacks pass rush moves at this time. He’s someone I would like to watch more in the 7 on 7 circuit this spring and summer.
Like I said off the top, he’s a true Mike linebacker that can play in a 4-3 or a 3-4. He doesn’t have ideal size to play as a 3-4 edge linebacker, but he does flash some skills that suggest he could play there at some point.
If you are a team searching for an inside linebacker in this class, Toailoa is an obvious candidate. I need to see a bit more from him in coverage, but if he plays in an attacking scheme that utilizes him a blitzer, then he should make a significant impact in that area. He has the talent to develop into a very good multi-year starter at the college 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). In addition to here, he breaks down Virginia Tech recruits for 247Sports’ VTscoop.com, Notre Dame recruits for SB Nation’s One Foot Down, and is the recruiting editor for SB Nation’s Pac-12 blog, Pacific Takes. Jamie is also the former Sr. Editor, Digital Content and News for theScore.com.