Saturday, December 27, 2014

the recruit: Olamide Zaccheaus

Name: Olamide Zaccheaus
Position: RB
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
School: St. Joseph's Prep
Height: 5'8"
Weight: 195

24/7: 87, three stars; #54 ATH, PA #14
ESPN: 78, three stars; #70 RB, PA #10, East #83
Rivals: 5.5, three stars; PA #30
Scout: three stars; #93 RB

Other offers: Miami, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Ohio, Temple, Old Dominion

First of all, the tricky part: it's pronounced oh-LAH-ma-day za-KEY-us.  With that covered, let's see what we can do about a scouting report.

The most obvious thing that jumps out of any page on Zacchaeus is his size.  At 5'8", he definitely qualifies as a small running back, and I'm tempted to not believe the 185-195 pound range where he's listed, too.  No big change there for the UVA roster; the Hoos are graduating two other 5'8" backs in Kevin Parks and Khalek Shepherd.  Zaccheaus, however, looks smaller than either, in girth more than anything.  Parks is much more of a bruiser; Shepherd is a much better comparison.

That said, announcers did tend to really like the cliche about getting lost in the pile when talking about Parks, and if they liked it about him, they'll love it about Zaccheaus.  Huge pet peeve of mine: When a runner meets a defender in the open field and stops short, apparently thinking himself an all-world juker, ready to dazzle the world with the Barry Sanders moves he's about to unleash, and gets tackled from behind.  Or tackled by the defender, who's a lot more athletic than the high school mooks the runner is used to.  Bonus points if the ballcarrier stops just short of the first down and leaves his team with 4th and 1.  Zaccheaus doesn't really have that problem.  His style looks to be a lot more straight ahead, preferring to cut rather than juke, and generally always moving forward.  And he's expert at getting through the trash, and going through rather than trying to go around a scrum. Or at least, that's what happened in the successful runs that became the highlight videos.  There's probably a lesson there.

At any rate, I think it's much smarter running than trying to be Mr. Flash.  Our running game this year wouldn't have been nearly as successful if we didn't have backs who took what was there by going straight forward.  Zaccheaus is reasonably quick and has a pretty good ability to maintain his speed while cutting and changing direction.

There's quite a disparity in his guru ratings.  ESPN and 24/7 think he's one of the better players in Pennsylvania and among the top recruits in our class.  Scout and Rivals - far less enthusiastic.  Size probably has something to do with it, and if so, I don't care.  Running back is probably the position where size matters least.  Most important, I think, is instinct, and ability to find the right path downfield.  Competitiveness and attitude help too, more so, I think, than physical attributes.  None of this can be judged too well from the highlights.  As best I can tell, all of those things trend in the right direction for Zaccheaus, but it's hard to tell unless you watch game in and game out and not the handpicked highlight plays.

I'm inclined to lean toward the more positive rankings.  Part of that is a bias toward running backs in general - it's my favorite position on the field and I always want the incoming guys to be the next (insert fun-to-watch RB of choice here.)  But Zaccheaus has a few legit offers, which says to me he'd have more if he weren't short - too many coaches shy away from that kind of thing.  And if he'd hit a few camps; I can't find any evidence of him doing so.  And he's got some football instinct as well - he picked off a pass in the state championship game to seal a second straight title for his St. Joseph's team.

So I think there's a reasonable chance UVA has a bit of a find.  Plus it's about 50/50 as to whether he redshirts, I'd say.  Most of UVA's production at RB is graduating, leaving pretty much just Taquan Mizzell behind.  Daniel Hamm is the most experienced back left, after him; LaChaston Smith has been buried the last two years and Jordan Ellis just redshirted.  Zaccheaus could work his way into that mix, or he could find a role as a kick returner.  We know so little about the options behind Mizzell that it's close to impossible to predict how soon Zaccheaus will see the field - but an optimistic view is the best bet.

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