Thursday, January 22, 2009

Google surveys the recruits: Jamontay Pilson

Because someone needs to do the work of plugging in a given Auburn commitment's name into Google and synthesizing the tidbits of information that trickle out. Previous entries in this series here.

With two of the first three commitments profiled in this series (Cotton, Moore) later becoming not-commitments--all that hard work, ruined!--I've tried to focus on the recruits who are most likely (or in the case of the JUCO enrollees) to actually fax in their letter-of-intent on Signing Day. With Pilson telling reporters he's safe for Auburn even after Willis's treachery (can I call it treachery? I tihnk I'm going to anyway), I think it's safe to proceed.

Which is a good thing, because Pilson looks like he might be one of the better recruits in the class.

Basics: Like previous surveyees Nick Fairley and Dee Ford, Pilson is something of a tweener, lining up at defensive end for Greenville H.S. despite being listed at 6-3 and somewhere in the neighborhood of 260-265 pounds. With that kind of size, it's not surprising that the services by consensus project Pilson as a defensive tackle rather than an end at the college level. If Pilson does move to tackle, his 40 time won't matter much, but Rivals lists it at 4.9, which I'm sure is completely accurate for a 6-3, 265-pound defensive tackle prospect.

Note here that at least one source has Pilson's height listed at 7-5. If true, in addition to making Pilson a rare medical marvel and a surefire fan favorite, it could be a great asset in swatting down opposing passes, if not being particularly helpful in goal-line situations.

Recruitnik hoo-ha: It's Rivals that winds up on the high side with Pilson, giving him a fourth star and ranking him the 24th-best DT prospect, well in front of the four/three-star cutoff. He ranks eighth on Rivals' revised list of Alabama prospects, one spot ahead of noted Auburn bad-mouther Brandon Moore. In short: Rivals thinks he's pretty good.

ESPN's a little less high on him, but not by much. They grades him out at a 3.5-starish 78, ranking him as the No. 39 defensive end, though they acknowledge that he "could likely physically develop into more of a true defensive tackle as he matures." They also apparently see him as some sort of futuristic gunslinger:
He will shoot his weapons, gets good position, and can separate. Displays the ability to be able to find the ball and shed. ... Does a good job of being able to take on a block and hold his ground. He does need to improve at taking on the reach block and not allowing himself to get pinned inside. He has a good speed for a kid his size ... Against the pass he can bull rush some. Flashes the ability to get his hips flipped and slide past a blocker.
I read that and want to ask: well, if he's got one good speed, what about the others?

Scout rates Pilson another notch down the ladder, giving him three stars and the No. 45 slot amongst the DTs. He's their 19th-best three-star at this position, so they don't see particularly great things from him.

Pilson's offer list is interesting, though, since both Rivals and Scout agree that 'Bama (as well as Miami) also offered. I'm sure the Tide fans will tell you that Alabama didn't really want him, but Saban and crew must have seen something there at some point. In any case, it's another positive mark on Pilson's resume.

Links of Potential Interest: Surely, surely, Phillip Marshall would never write anything gag-inducingly glowing about an Auburn commitment, would he?
He’s 6-foot-3 and weighs 263 pounds, but without a hint of fat, looks bigger. And on the football field, he can be a nightmare for offensive linemen who try to contain him. Second-year Greenville coach Ben Blackmon says it’s Pilson’s explosion off the football, combined with power and athleticism, that makes him a rare talent.
Oh, Phil. The article, from last July, is worth a read regardless: it sounds like Pilson still has a ways to go before he hits his physical ceiling, which is good, though I suppose we could say that about a lot of guys.

While we're here, Pilson's senior stats: 90 tackles, 24 for loss, six sacks. That's 20 more tackles but six fewer sacks than his junior year, which means ... absolutely nothing in my oh-so-humble opinion, like most high school stats. The bottom line is that people who would know better than us said he had a great senior season.

Rivals and Bone (the guy at the link above) weren't the only ones to think so. The B'ham News moved Pilson up from unranked to 17th in the state, and the Press-Register vaulted him up to No. 6. (This despite the fact that Pilson was sent home from the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game for "disciplinary reasons.") Here's a fun quote from's Barry Every (the guy who'd I assume is responsible for the four-star ranking) in the Press-Register piece:
Every, who was in Mobile for the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star week, said he was impressed with Pilson's frame — "He has that strong-side defensive end/defensive tackle body that to me is the most coveted and hardest-to-find body in college football," he said.

OK, you have to take the negativity with a heapin' helpin of salt grains given the source, but a Tidesports poster does admit Pilson was a "monster" as a HS sophomore. I get the feeling that "monstrousness" would have been more emphasized if he'd committed somewhere else. Proceed with caution at that link, though there's also unsubstantiated information about why Pilson was sent home from the All-Star game available in the thread.

And lastly, last summer, something called named Pilson the 116th-best prospect in the country. Go on with your bad self, fvsports.

What conclusions we can draw, if any: If you assume there's a possibility he can't pack on the extra pounds and/or muscle to reach bona fide SEC DT size, Pilson's tweener-ness might be seen as a drawback, stranding him without the speed to play end or the bulk to play inside.

However: 1. The consensus from the gurus seems to be that his frame will indeed be able to handle the upgrade. 2. Who cares--Auburn's defensive line is thin enough that having someone a la Sen'Derrick Marks or Zach Clayton who can fill in at either spot can only be a good thing. That that prospect is one who was already fairly highly thought of and only got better during his senior season--suggesting there's still more improvement to come--is even more reason to hope. After a season or possibly two of adjustment, it seems likely that Pilson will find his way into the rotation somewhere, and if Rivals is right he could wind up making a much larger impact than that.

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