Because we're in the first doldrums of the sports calendar (Just before spring practice and the draft/spring game), I'm going to take some time to do some individual scouting reports on potential Virginia Tech recruits. As people who read my articles know, I watch the crystal ball predictors on 247sports. And, well, it's been a while since one rolled across the screen. Thankfully, it's one by Evan Watkins, who handles both Virginia Tech and ODU recruiting. He's very plugged in when it comes to recruiting results, and usually doesn't throw in a crystal ball without a lot of weight behind his decision. This crystal ball, for those that don't follow recruiting as closely, probably confused a couple people. Colorado? Since when does Tech recruit all the way out at the second continental divide? Well, first, let's introduce the individual I'm spotlighting today...
Dalton Keene (Littleton, CO. 223lbs, 6'-5". Athlete (tight end/linebacker))
Keene, in an odd stretch of the kind of familial connections that makes Virginia Tech so inclusive, is the son of Charley Wiles' college roommate at Murray State. That got Virginia Tech the in to get him all the way to Blacksburg for a junior day.
Proud to say Dalton got his 4th offer from Virginia Tech today!!! Go Hokies!!!!! pic.twitter.com/whdk8ri6GL— Wes Keene (@keene_wes) February 15, 2016
Now, for the tape review...
Look, Keene's not going to play RB at the college level- he's fast enough for his size, but he's not got the breakaway speed you're looking for in a college running back, and probably not the bulk for a power back. His frame still works plenty well, though- and he's not easy to take down because of it. Even if he's not going to be a tailback in college, he's got a couple running back traits I like. He's shiftier than you'd expect for his longer frame, and has a lot of escape moves that a tight end type rarely displays. I'm going to reserve some judgement on his receiving skills because most of what you see thrown his way are designed screens or wheel routes, but his hands seem to be more than acceptable. He's got a solid stiff arm move, though I'd say his typical move is actually a juke or sidestep. I do enjoy watching him block, though- he hits linebackers like a ton of bricks, generally outsizing them- and bonus is he does a very good job of squaring them up. On defense I wouldn't say his closing speed is incredible, but it's obvious that he's got enough of it to make up for the mistakes he does make. He's a very good tackler, and wraps up very well- key in this day and age to go after natural tacklers and not naturally hitters. He's not afraid of contact on either side of the ball, and his long strides make up for whatever he lacks in speed to close. He tracks the ball fine, and probably has a good sense of where the plays are going- I don't think his athleticism is making up for a hole in his game in that regard.
Keene is currently rated by Scout and Rivals as a 3 star prospect, and 247 as a four star prospect- the 159th best player in the nation. ESPN does not rank him at all. So why the disparity? It's unclear, but players playing a position far away from what most schools are thinking of for him can suffer from that. I have a feeling Tech would stick him at tight end- we've covered this before, but we're not a school that does the huge linebacker thing. Honestly, though, I think that'd be where you get the best mismatch for him- a large, athletic target with some potential blocking strength shifting across the field. I'd look for him to stay at the Y position.