Thursday, December 11, 2014

the recruit: C.J. Stalker

Name: C.J. Stalker
Position: LB
Hometown: West Chester, OH
School: Lakota West
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 225

24/7: 88, three stars; #17 ILB, OH #21
ESPN: 76, three stars; #78 OLB, OH #37, Midwest #87
Rivals: 5.8, four stars; #12 ILB, OH #14
Scout: three stars; #40 ILB

Other offers: West Virginia, Louisville, Cincinnati, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Bowling Green, Western Michigan, Massachusetts

To be brutally honest, the spring and summer parade of commitments that almost nobody else had recruited was getting a little worrisome.  It's not much of a way to build a team, and besides, it takes a lot of the fun out of following recruiting.  C.J. Stalker got all that nice and fixed.  From the Cincinnati area, and pursued by most teams in the region, Stalker ended up picking basically the furthest-away (serious) candidate for his services.  And UVA finally gets a linebacker out of Cincinnati after striking out a time or two in the past.

There's a lot of disagreement as to what Stalker's strengths and weaknesses are, which is a bit odd for someone who's been recruited fairly widely.  ESPN says he needs to add strength and bulk.  Rivals called him "big and musclebound."  Most of the services have him as an MLB; ESPN says he's a strong-side guy.  24/7's Jamie Oakes adds extremely admiring words for his football smarts.

This last is believable given Stalker's chosen major: pre-med.  "I want to be an orthopedic surgeon" is something not heard out of many footballr recruits.  To that end, Stalker is enrolling early, joining Grant Polk in that regard.  Early enrollment doesn't guarantee anything in terms of playing time, but in Stalker's case, one wonders.  Thing is, Rivals's assessment of Stalker's stature makes a lot more sense; he looks almost ready to burst out of those already absurdly tight football camp t-shirts.  He probably could add muscle, but he already looks close to college-ready, and that's from this past summer.

Similarly, I think he could play Sam, but then, a smart, high-IQ MLB is priceless for a defense, and since most sources seem to think he's a Mike, I'm forced to agree.  Especially since ESPN's report is kind of contradictory at times.  Your heir apparent at MLB is Micah Kiser, who hasn't seen a lot of field time; this is mainly the fault of Henry Coley, who was more or less indispensible.  But while the LB depth chart looks pretty well filled out, it's mostly full of outside backers.  The three we picked up last year aren't middle guys by any stretch, or at least, they didn't look like it when they came in.  Unless one of them has picked up some new skills, there's not much (other than possibly Jahvoni Simmons, who seems like he could play anywhere) standing between Kiser and Stalker.  Stalker appears close to the field already, physically, and his early enrollment will jump-start his career.  I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see him pushing very hard for playing time right away; he's one of the least likely redshirts in the class.

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