As I noted yesterday, Mark Richt has been pulling in more recruits lately than you can shake a stick at. The commitment of Alabama offensive lineman Jonathan Owens puts the number of Bulldog pledges for 2008 at 14, leaving us with somewhere between 9 and 12 slots left (I think. If you have an alternate count, please let me know in the comments).
One of the more recent recruits to come on board was Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons defensive end Jeremy Longo. Longo is reputed to stand 6'5 and weigh somewhere in the neighborhood of 225 pounds. I say reputed because these numbers were not, to my knowledge anyway, verified at a combine or camp or other such location where high school football players are poked and prodded like so many red angus steers.
What the folks at Rivals will certify to is Longo's 82.12 SPARQ rating. For those unfamiliar with the SPARQ system, it's a rating method which combines a player's speed, size, strength and agility numbers to quantify how he ranks against other players as a "total athlete". For example, a 300 pound offensive lineman who benchpresses 350 pounds doesn't get the same bump in the SPARQ ratings as a 190 pound tailback who does the same.
What you need to know is that Longo's 82.12 is higher than the following scores put up by recent high profile recruits (again, this is all according to the folks at Rivals, who apparently run a wicked sliderule to come up with this stuff): Trinton Sturdivant (57.66), T-Bob Hebert (66.19), Allen Bailey (73.62), Neland Ball (76.3) and Cam Heyward (52.4). While the system gets tweaked a little from time to time, these numbers still indicate that Longo has plenty of pure athletic ability.
Longo's combine numbers aren't the only thing that's impressive. His junior numbers on the field weren't bad either. Longo tallied 125 tackles (18 for a loss) and 8 sacks from his defensive end slot. As is the case with nearly every other prospect in the known universe, Rivals has compiled a short highlight reel on Longo which you can see here.
My impression is that Longo is a bit of a project. He's clearly greased lightning fast for a kid his size. However, his technique on these highlights is bad. Really bad. On the snap he immediately pops straight up to look for the ballcarrier. If he does this in college, SEC offensive tackles will take him for the kind of high speed backwards ride you usually can only enjoy on MARTA.
He also doesn't use his hands very well to shed blockers, instead just using his speed to run around them. Again, this will not work against your typical 6'6, 320 pound SEC tackle, who will simply engulf him. Finally, Longo's speed sometimes works against him, as he overpursues some ballcarriers. The result is that he doesn't always make quality contact, instead arm-tackling smallish high school backs. Attempting this against, say, Knowshown Moreno for example, would likely produce less than satisfactory results (read: a shoulder torn out of socket and a long, long run).
Now having said all that I am pleased with the pickup. Why? Because to me Longo is in the same category for this class as Bacarri Rambo. He's a guy we won't need to play for 2 years, so we have time to polish his technique and take advantage of his raw athletic ability. Make no mistake, Longo is going to ultimately be a physical specimen in the 6'5, 250 range. With his speed, he may ultimately be that combo defensive end/outside linebacker the NFL is so keyed up about these days (what the Oakland Raiders hope Quentin Moses will be). But he's going to have to endure some long days with Coach Fabris before ever having to worry about any of that. Longo is probably going to be what the recruitniks call a "high three star" kind of player, who won't make an immediate impact but could be a key contributor down the road. Welcome to Bulldog Nation Jeremy!