Georgia landed a big piece of their 2015 recruiting puzzle this morning when Lakeside-Evans safety Rashad Roundtree picked the Red and Black over runner up Ohio State.
The 6'1, 195 pound standout is rated 4 stars by ESPN and 247Sports, 5 stars by Rivals. He also had offers from a who's who of college football, including Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame, and Virginia Tech. In other words, Roundtree is one of those highly touted prospects who nearly everyone can agree has the potential to be very good on the next level.
Roundtree was not always a marked man, actually emerging fairly late in the recruiting process. He really blew up following a junior season in which he established himself as an SEC-level free safety prospect. You can take a look at that impressive junior film here:
Roundtree has good hands, and does a great job of high pointing the ball. But where he really impresses is in run support. Rashad is quick to read, react, and then lay the wood to ball carriers. I'm particularly impressed with the fact that he's not standing back and catching. Instead he comes up hard to the line and makes stops. Roundtree doesn't always do a great job of fighting off blockers, just kind of overpowering some poor kids. He needs to learn to anticipate contact with blockers and use his hands to shed those guys on the move. As it is he gets tangled up with them on those occasions when he's not able to just knife through the defense for the big hit.
But two things I really like are that he takes good angles to the ball and actually wraps up. Using your arms to tackle is a lost art among high school (and college) defensive backs. Rashad Roundtree has clearly been taught to actually stick with the ball carrier. I like it.
Roundtree's size isn't optimal for an inside-the-box safety, though he has a frame that may allow him to put on some weight. I can't really tell from this video what Roundtree's man-to-man coverage skills look like. Part of that may be that Lakeside uses him as more of a "center fielder", whose speed allows him to cover a lot of ground in the middle. That's a skill in and of itself, however.
There's some disagreement among recruiting services on exactly how high to rank Roundtree. 247Sports for example has him as only the #11 safety in the country, while Rivals has him at #2, and ESPN slots him at #4. What I think all of them can agree on is that he's a guy who projects as a starter at the BCS level, probably a multi-year starter, especially in a system that makes heavy use of the nickel package and as a result requires defensive backs to play run support.
Georgia's Jeremy Pruitt by the way uses just such a system. Roundtree is a big time instate prospect at a position of significant need, one who I expect to contribute immediately. It's never a bad day to be a Georgia Bulldog, but if you're the Bulldog defensive staff Roundtree's commitment makes this one a little better than most. Until later . . .