Tuesday, October 14, 2008

the recruit: Kevin Royal

Slow news day. So straight to the content.

Name: Kevin Royal
Position: WR
Hometown: Greenwich, CT
School: Brunswick
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 205
40: ???

ESPN: 76, #88 WR
Rivals: 2 stars, 5.4, #6 in state of CT
Scout: 2 stars, #148 WR

Royal was one of four camp commits that pledged themselves to UVA during/after summer prospect camp in June. He's also one of only two wide receivers in the class and the one less likely to fly the coop, although in an interview with CavsCorner ($) he stated he "never doubted his decision to commit to Coach Groh." The paranoia-inclined might come to the conclusion that a Groh firing would lead to a decommitment, and further note the shakiness of Tyree Watkins' commitment, and start to really worry about the future of wide receiver at the University. Bloggers are of this persuasion, and I'm little different, which is why again I sit solidly on the fence when it comes to whether or not this should be Groh's last year. Royal has in the past talked extremely highly of UVA, though, and I think in the end he would stick around no matter what.

But as usual, I digress. Those of you who have followed the Monday weekend reviews will have noted the presence of Kevin Royal on several of them, most notably the last two in which it was reported that he broke his arm. Ouch. He will not be catching touchdowns for another month or so. Up til then he was having a fine season. Brunswick is a smallish private school up in the little rat-tail of Connecticut, which has a decent football team largely thanks to Royal's efforts. He is a tall player - much taller than the scrawny short guys that are generally assigned to cover him; Connecticut's rat-tail is not a football hotbed.

The two stars each afforded Royal by Scout and Rivals are misleading, in my opinion, despite the general lack of written offers. Royal didn't get a notice from hardly anybody at all until near the time when he actually committed, and the two stars are more reflective of the scouting services not really bothering much to evaluate a player who sounds solid in his commitment. ESPN has him pegged as a possession receiver, which could be about right. One gets the sense they were the only ones to really bother taking a good look.

Now. It is a pet peeve of mine to watch a player carrying the football try to shimmy and juke his way past a defender (or even more irritatingly, three defenders) while standing still and/or slowing down. This is especially obnoxious when it's third down and just one more yard is needed for the first down, because invariably the ballcarrier has forgotten that people are pursuing from the rear as well as in front, and all the shimmying and jukejiving gets them nowhere, unless 4th and 1 is a place. And all they needed was to just go forward. Why do I mention this? Royal will have none of doing this. The highlight film shows a receiver who not once tried to Barry Sanders a defender. If he was faster, he simply went around, and if he wasn't in a position to do that, he just kept moving forward, and broke the tackle as often as not. Momentum - it's your friend. I loved seeing this. I hope he continues to play that way when wearing orange and blue. It'll be especially helpful as a possession receiver if that's the path his development follows. He will break fewer tackles in college because the linebackers are like 75 pounds heavier, but good God, if four years of Kevin Royal go by and I didn't ever have to watch him try to shuffle past a safety only to get tackled and leave his team stranded at the corner of 4th Down Avenue and One Yard To Go Street, then it'll warm my heart for sure.

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