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Film Study: New Commit DeeJay Dallas

So far ‘Dawg Night 2015 has yielded only one public commitment, but it was a good one. 2017 Gynn Academy athlete DeeJay Dallas committed to the Bulldogs Saturday over early offers from the likes of Auburn, Florida, Missouri, and South Carolina. 247Sports currently slots him a little outside their National 247 composite rankings as the 298th best prospect for the class of 2017, and the 31st best rising junior prospect in the state of Georgia. Dallas racked up 582 yards receiving on 50 catches as a sophomore in 2014 and returned 2 kickoffs for touchdowns (averaging 44.8 yards per return on 6 tries) enroute to first team All-Region 3AAAAA honors.

Dallas has worn a lot of hats for Glynn Academy, playing as a quarterback, receiver, defensive back, and kick returner for the Red Terrors. It’s always difficult to really gage speed from film except at the top and bottom of the curve. Guys who have truly elite speed are generally pretty obvious, and guys who are more than a step slow versus their competition tend to stick out, too. Dallas is neither of those, though he seems to have good speed relative to his size. He’s a bit of a long strider, who  I’d describe as more quick than fast until he hits his top end. Like a lot of guys who take those long flowing strides it can take him a few steps to really hit warp speed, and he’s vulnerable to being caught in that interim.  Notice that Glynn likes to use him on the receiver sweep (sometimes but not always correctly labeled the "jet sweep", but never correctly labeled a "reverse") and he’s got plenty of speed to get to the corner against high school competition. That being said I don’t know that he’d have the same kind of luck against SEC defenses.

I do like DeeJay as a kick returner. He doesn’t jitterbug, instead recognizing and attacking the hole quickly. Sure, the plays on this film are the ones in which this paid off with a score or long return. But this habit is even more important on the plays where nothing big opens up. Those are the ones where a guy like Dallas who’s not afraid of a little contact and gets upfield can get you 15 yards rather than dinking and dunking 5 yards backward. Those are the returns upon which winning field position is built, and it can be hard to convince young returners to know when to take them rather than ambling around looking for a hole to hit a homerun return through. Dallas also generally secures the ball well and runs well with the ball tucked.

DeeJay does make a basket catch with a guy all over him at the 1:30 mark and one great concentration grab at 3:00 in, but I’d label his hands overall as solidly average in this film, with lots of basket catching. His route running isn’t anything impressive either. The game plan here is clearly to create situations in which a gifted athlete can get the ball in space do something with it.  With two years of coaching these things could improve, but there’s a reason for the old joke that goes "What do you call a wide receiver who can’t catch? A Safety." I will say that Dallas is not afraid of contact and does make some nice grabs in traffic, which is something much harder to teach. All other things being equal I’d rather have a guy who lets the ball get into his body but ultimately makes the catch in traffic than a player who always gets his hands up for the ball but flinches when he hears footsteps coming.

Another thing that sticks out is that Dallas clearly plays with a great deal of energy. He’s hustling, he’s vocal. These things alone don’t make a great football player but they don’t hurt either. I am a little disappointed that there’s not more film here of Dallas playing defense, as I’d like to know what kind of tackler he is and how he looks in coverage. My suspicion is that he may be better suited to the defensive backfield at the college level, especially if he dishes out contact on that side of the ball like he did on a few of the blocks he made in this film.

Evaluating a player two years out from his college report date is a bit dicey. Even with the far more intense focus on underclassman scouting in college football, there’s just nothing that can be done about the fact that young men change a lot physically and mentally between age 16 and age 18. That being said, Dallas is a guy who was already a standout as a sophomore against good competition. I’d like to see him continue to develop physically, and would expect him to continue to put on some good weight, maybe reporting around 6’1, 190 lb. That’s a good size for a corner in Georgia’s defense, but would also qualify him to play the star hybrid spot or slide back to safety. If he’s going to play offense I’d like to see him really work on his hands and his route running (including body position coming off the line). Still, there's an awful lot of potential here. A solid pickup for the future.