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June 26, 2013AggieYell.com's Jeff Tarpley continues his look at the top prospects in the state of Texas, position by position, for the 2014 recruiting class. Next up: defensive tackle.
1. DeShawn Washington, Nederland (committed to Texas A&M)
2. Zaycoven Henderson, Longview (committed to TCU)
3. Trey Lealaimatafao, San Antonio Warren (committed to Texas)
4. D.J. Williams, Lufkin
5. Cedric Johnson, Rowlett
6. Darrius Montgomery, Goose Creek Memorial
7. Kenneth Onyenah, Grapevine
8. Andrew Morris, Mesquite Horn
9. Aaron Jenkins, Dallas Lincoln (committed to Rice)
10. Mychealon Thomas, Dallas Skyline
Defensive tackles typically fall into two categories. The most desirable types have a great first step and can move; they usually can be found lining up as a three technique in the gap between guard and tackle and attempting to shoot that gap and use their quickness to make plays in the backfield. Nosetackles are bigger players who usually lack that type of athleticism and line up in what's known as a one technique over or shaded on the center. Their job is to force double teams from the guard/center combo and free up the inside linebackers to make plays.
Last year's defensive tackle class within the state of Texas was one of the better ones in recent history with a five star (A'Shawn Robinson) and multiple four stars behind him. This year's defensive tackle is not nearly as deep and surprisingly lags far behind other positions on defense (especially defensive end and defensive back). Nonetheless, there's some good talent at the upper end of the class that compares well with the four stars from 2013.
Washington is considered to be a little undersized by some observers. However, he's pretty comparable in that regard to Justin Manning and Hardreck Walker, who were rated as four star prospects in the 2013 class and Manning played in the Army All American game and did quite well. Washington plays all along Nederland's front four. He has an elite first step and acceleration off the ball; he also understands how to attack the shoulder of an offensive lineman when he hits a gap. As a result, he's guy that doesn't have to be unblocked to make a play he can shrug off contact and get into the backfield. He also moves well laterally and can run down people outside the tackle box better than many linebackers. He's got quick hands and when he uses them to get inside on learns to use them it's going to be very difficult for an offensive lineman to get leverage on him no matter how big they are. Henderson should be able to wreck shop as a three tech in college.
Henderson is a little short but he's got a compact stance and as result can stay low and get leverage on people in a hurry. He's already pretty good at using his hands to get inside and escape blockers. He has good coordination so he can also absorb blocks, stay upright, and not go to the ground. Henderson does not have Washington's first step but he can run people down and moves well laterally.
Lealamatafao is short but very powerful with a massive base. He's got a nice first step for a guy his size but wins most of his battles by attacking shoulders and using his strength to push his way past the blocker. Right now, he wins blocks more on brute force and quickness but has good hands and at times uses them well to get leverage and escape. He's definitely more of a nosetackle.
Williams is not quite as flexible as the top guys on this list and isn't a first step guy. He's a little high in his stance but manages to maintain good pad level when he comes out of his stance. He also has a strong upper body. This enables him to at least stalemate most people at the point of the attack and hold up even against double teams. When he gets his hands inside of blockers, he can push them back as well. He is probably a one technique or nosetackle at the next level.
Johnson also isn't as flexible as the top guys on this list and also lacks a quick first step. He's a little high in his stance and so he stays high when he comes off the ball. As a result, he doesn't win battles initially and relies on his size and ability to run people down and move laterally to make plays. He's probably a three technique in college.
The Aggies garnered commitments from three of the state's top defensive tackles last season in Isaiah Golden, Justin Manning, and Hardreck Walker. Thus, A&M really doesn't need to load up at the position this season but nonetheless scored a coup with the commitment of Washington. They have also offered four star Josh Frazier from Springdale, Arkansas, a massive 6 foot 3, 334 pound destroyer. He's got a large upper body and can stay low coming out of his stance. As a result, he just goes nowhere when people try to block him. He's not a first step guy but he moves well for his size and can shed and make plays up and down the line of scrimmage. The Aggies are in his top five along with USC, Alabama, Arkansas, and Auburn and he recently visited A&M. He intends to take all of his official visits.