As Bud Elliott reported this afternoon, Georgia picked up yet another huge commitment today with the pledge of five star defensive tackle Julian Rochester of McEachern (Powder Springs).
247Sports ranks Rochester the #3 defensive tackle in the country and #2 player in Georgia for the class of 2016. As one would expect, he has offers from every major college football power in the country. Really. Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, FSU, Ohio State, Oregon, LSU, all wanted Rochester. And with good reason. The 6'5, 315 pound standout has a ton of upside, which is saying something given how good he already is. Let's take a look at Rochester's junior highlights.
Lining up against Rochester has to be a terrifying experience for a high school offensive tackle. Nothing that big should move that fast unless it has "Delta" painted on the side. He has a very good first step, especially for a guy his size. On the first two plays of this tape Rochester actually uses speed rushing techniques (taking the first guy upfield before cutting under him, then doing the opposite to the second) before just mowing over some dudes.
He's relentless in pursuit, with excellent change of direction. He just moves so, so well for a guy even 30 pounds lighter. Ballcarriers can't hide from Julian Rochester, at least not for long. With his broad shoulders and thick lower body Rochester looks like he should be a big, lumbering nose tackle. He certainly has the body type to be a run stuffer in the middle (note the Twitter image above where Tracy Rocker barely peeks out from behind him). But he's decidedly more nimble than a guy that size has any business being.
But foot speed isn't all Rochester has going for him. One thing you don't often see in high school linemen but which Rochester does very well is use his hands, actively shedding blocks with those big mitts of his and with elite quickness (check out the swim move he puts on a poor offensive tackle at the 1:48 mark. It's breath-taking). It's . . .beautiful. It's also an essential skill at the next level, where offensive linemen are less prone to be beaten by pure speed. He also plays with excellent pad level, especially for a guy pushing 6'6.
Where I really see Rochester excelling is at defensive end in Georgia's 3-4 alignment. There he can line up as a 5 technique and use his size/speed combo to set the edge against tackles only slightly less outgunned than those he's facing in high school. He can also utilize his solid pass rush skills combined with his height to disrupt the passing game. Throwing over the outstretched bear paws of Julian Rochester just seems like a tall order to me.
The last Bulldog to come out of Meadowcreek was offensive lineman Adam Meadows in 1992. Given how many great football players the school has produced, that's a little disappointing. It's probably a little premature to say Rochester's commitment establishes a pipeline to Athens, but it doesn't hurt. Rochester is also a popular guy with other class of 2016 recruits as well. That can't hurt. It will be interesting to now see if any of the other big time recruits Rochester seems to have been working on join him as members of #Squad16. Until later . . .