Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Google surveys the recruits: Onterio McCalebb

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 the news leaking out yesterday that McCalebb had made the grade and had enrolled at Auburn this week, now seems as good a time as any to take a look at what will likely wind up Auburn's highest-rated running back in the class of 2009.

First things first: despite what his first name would seem to suggest, he's not from Canada. I know, you're stunned. We all were when we first found out, trust me.

Basics: McCalebb is a 6-0, 175-pound speedster of a running back originally from Fort Meade HS in Fort Meade, Florida. He committed to Auburn out of Fort Meade as part of the 2008 class, couldn't make the grade, and spent a year at the ever-useful Hargrave Military Academy, where I bet there's one dude actually trying to prepare for the military who's crazy frustrated at being surrounded by nothing but Division I college football recruits 24/7. Since prep school doesn't count towards NCAA eligibility, McCalebb will arrive as a freshman with four years remaining. His 40 time is listed at 4.49, and with McCalebb's track background, for once that might not be much of an exaggeration.

Recruitnik hoo-ha: Generally, the take on McCalebb is that he's got the goods. Rivals gives him four stars, rates him a sterling 6.0 ("All-American Candidate; ... deemed to have pro potential and ability to make an impact on college team"), and calls him the fourth-best prep school prospect in the country. The other committed members of the prep school top seven are headed to Miami, Georgia, Florida, and Virginia Tech, so this isn't bad company to be in at all. It's worth noting that unlike Eltoro Freeman, McCalebb's delay in getting to Auburn helped him in Rivals's eyes: his was already a four-star and the No. 13 "all-purpose running back," but his 2008 evaluation gave him a 5.8 and he was the last all-purpose RB to draw a fourth star.

McCalebb is also a four-star at Scout, but I think they're probably a little less optimistic: they haven't re-rated him this year (unless this means he's the fourth-best RB in prep school), but had him as the No. 38 back in 2008, again the next-to-last RB to get a fourth star.

ESPN might be another slight notch down the ladder, since gives McCalebb a 79, which seems to be sort of equivalent to a high three-star. (It should probably be noted here that ESPN was much higher on Eric Smith and Reggie Hunt than the other services, giving them each an 80 and giving Smith the final RB slot in their top-150. I don't know exactly what that means for their credibility, but it's worth noting.) But their write-up makes it sound like McCalebb could be an ideal fit for Malzahn's Spread Eagle:
He is at his best attacking the line of scrimmage and then either bouncing the ball outside or cutting back against the grain. Either way, it gets him in space where he can turn on the speed and accelerate down the sideline ... His hips and change-of-direction skills make him a home-run threat once he's in space. As a receiver, he has just hit the tip of the iceberg of his potential and should develop into a dangerous weapon. He has soft hands and is excellent on screens.
ESPN goes on to speculate McCalebb could also develop into an excellent cornerback and return man ... which, again, only emphasizes that an offense that emphasizes getting players into space should be a snug fit for him. And here's yet more emphasis: McCalebb was a verbal commitment to Rich Rodriguez at West Virginia before he left for Michigan. If RichRod believed McCalebb could be the next Steve Slaton or Noel Devine--and if the fact he tried to take him along with him to Michigan is any indication, he did--yeah, I think Gus Malzahn should find some use for him.

Links of Potential Interest: Not a McCalebb-only package, but there's several long runs from him here:

and a couple more here. Amateur analysis of any high school highlight reel is a chump's game, but I can't keep myself from saying this: I like the way McCalebb makes his cuts. Seems like there's a minimum of wasted effort and a quick turn upfield, in my chump's opinion.

In case you were wondering if McCalebb really was that fast, his personal page at flrunners.com should be pretty convincing. Not Harvin or Holliday or Jeff Demps fast, mind, but 11 flat in the 100 meters and a state title in the 200 in Florida means: yes, he's fast.

Don't know how much you can read into a Hargrave game, where McCalebb would be running behind a line of future D-I studs against I-AA competition, but nonetheless this line:
Running back Onterio McCalebb finished the game rushing 14 times for 145 yards and two touchdowns
and the 10.3 yards-per-carry mark is fairly impressive. More of the same here.

Likewise, I don't pay too much attention to high school stats as they're so dependent on offensive style and position and how far a team goes in the playoffs and whatnot, but McCalebb had more than 2,000 yards his senior season. His team lost in the regional semifinals despite 218 yards on 22 carries from McCalebb. Yay.

What conclusions we can draw, if any: McCalebb is a huge get for Auburn on a number of levels. First, you would think if there was any position Auburn would have a surplus at it'd be running back, but with Lester and Davis gone all that's standing between McCalebb and the field are Fannin, Tate, and Smith. Second, McCalebb's bona fide: even if you don't buy the recruiting hype (which, on the balance, suggests that he's a legit four-star), that both Tommy Tuberville and Rich Rodriguez wanted him to come play running back for them should say an awful lot about his potential. Thirdly, his size and speed and scouting report all scream "Put me in a well-coached spread! Please!" at the top of their metaphorical lungs.

I expect Fannin to get the lion's share of carries if healthy in 2009, but if McCalebb's even close to being what he's advertised to be, he fits the offense too well not to battle bruisers like Smith and Tate for the backup job and whatever touches Fannin doesn't get. Especially with his having already been out of high school a year, the guess here is that McCalebb contributes immediately.

No comments: