As previously hunted and pecked out in the dark in this space, the Bulldog coaches picked up a bevy of commitments during Friday night's annual Dawg Night prospect event. While each of those young men is a special player who will get his day on the front page of Dawg Sports soon enough, the story of the night was the commitment of Jacksonville (Bolles) offensive tackle John Theus. Theus's commitment was so significant for the same reason that a guy lost in the desert would rather have a cold bottled water than a million dollars or Terrelle Pryor's rental car loyalty points: he is precisely what we need, when we need it.
There are certainly different levels of college football recruits. Sure the various recruiting sites have their star systems and numerical rankings. And that's all well and good. But for my money the way to tell whether a guy is truly a must-have kind of player is to look at the list of schools that have offered him a scholarship to play college football. It's really that simple. While it's entirely possible for Mar Richt to take a flyer on a guy, or for Nick Saban to be wrong about a kid, or for Bob Stoops to misjudge a player's talent, when all of those guys want a player it's a good bet that there's a good reason for that.
John Theus has an offer from everyone. Seriously, name a major college football program and the odds are pretty good that they've asked young Theus to join them. Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Texas, Southern Cal, Michigan and Notre Dame have all antied up. Rivals ranks him the #2 offensive tackle in the nation for the class of 2012 and the #7 player in the nation for that class regardless of position. In other words, John Theus is one of those guys you need a commitment from if you want the national media and the blogosphere to hail your sigining class as a success come February.
But at Georgia we've had some recent signing classes that haven't won much of anything beyond Signing Day. The million dollar question is whether or not John Theus has the potential to help us win SEC and National Championships. The answer I believe is a tentative yes, for the reasons I'll outline in this post. First, take a few moments to consider Theus's highlight film from his junior season, presented below (with a hat tip to Rusty Mansell of 247Sports).
First things first. Theus is listed at 6'6 and 292 pounds. In the video above I'd say that's believable. Of course most of this film was shot 8 to 10 months ago, and teenage boys being what they are, it would be reasonable to think that Theus has grown some since then. Radi Nabulsi seems to have confirmed it with this picture of Theus competing against Harris County linebacker/defensive end Jordan Jenkins over the weekend. There are a lot of different ways for a football player to be 6'6 and 305 pounds. Some guys with those measurables are just plain flabby. Others are long-limbed and almost skinny looking. But a very few have the massive lower body necessary to stop a charging defender. Theus seems to have that prototypical left tackle body type.
Two things strike me immediately in the above video. For one, Theus has quick feet and keeps them moving through his blocks. I don't think he's quite as quick as fellow Bolles alum Brent Benedict was before his serious leg injury, but still John Theus gets to the second level of the defense pretty fast for a guy of his size. The second thing I noticed was his pad level. Theus manages to get down low without bending at the waist, just like you want a lineman to.
A third thing which eventually comes out of this video is the attitude. Some offensive linemen have it, others don't. Theus repeatedly blocks guys 20 yards down the field, and even takes out 2 guys at a time. He just looks nasty, and I mean that as a compliment. If you want to see what John Theus is about, watch this video from last year's Mark Richt Camp. After watching the footage of several of Georgia's incoming freshman offensive linemen, pay attention at the 1:46 mark. It makes me smile.
Recruiting offensive linemen is a crapshoot. For my money it's the most difficult position to evaluate becausereally good high school offensive linemen rarely go up against their physical equals on Friday nights, and not all of them develop at the same rate. Some don't develop much at all after high school while some seem to be mainlining muscle milk. Dennis Roland for example arrived in Athens as a 6'6, 270 pound former tight end/defensive lineman and left as a 6'9, 320 pound offensive tackle who has gone on to start for the Cincinnati Bengals. I'm not saying John Theus has an NFL future, but I am saying that almost every bigtime college football coach in America agrees with me that he has the tools to get there. I just can't wait for him to get back to Athens to shore up an offensive line that's been needing some big, nasty bruisers. Welcome to the fold, John. We're looking forward to seeing what you can do.