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March 26, 2012Isaiah Golden, Carthage
6'2", 295 lbs; committed to Texas A&M
A'Shawn Robinson, Arlington Heights
6'4", 304 lbs.; committed to Texas
Justin Manning, Dallas Kimball
6'3", 275 lbs.
Kerrick Huggins, Dallas Skyline
6'4", 283 lbs.; committed to Texas A&M
Hardreck Walker, Houston Westfield
6'2", 280 lbs.
Ben Hughes, Waco University
6'2", 310 lbs.
Andrew Billings, Waco High
6'1", 301 lbs.
Jacobi Hunter, Cy-Falls
6', 285 lbs.
Sydrick Moore, Van
6'2", 265 lbs.
Recent great defensive teams in college football have typically had one great thing in common: great defensive tackle play. The same is true for the great Texas A&M defensive teams of the past. Even before the Wrecking Crew days that began in the 1980's, the Aggie defenses of the mid 1970's featured tackles and Jimmie Dean and Edgar Fields which allowed middle linebacker Robert Jackson to run amok. Even though the defenses of the 80's and 90's featured three man fronts with a nosetackle, defensive ends in those fronts often lined up over the guards and acted as defensive tackles. Either way, the best defenses of that era may have had All American linebackers but they were fronted by lineman who protected the linebackers and allowed them to make plays.
Golden is a freak athlete. Typically, you have guys who hold up at the point of attack, can run down plays run away from them, or can use quickness to get into the opposing backfield. Golden is a rarity in that he can do all three. Even though he's a dominant player on the field, he doesn't use that as an excuse to play high. He's got great flexibility in his hips and knees which means that he can align himself low and come off the ball low. This allows which him to gain leverage on people at first contact. Since he's played at a lower classification against smaller individuals, he literally runs over the that he faces. Not only that, he uses his hands like someone you would expect to see at a larger school. His quickness and ability to change direction quickly is one of a kind in this class. He plays and will play in a lower classification but there's no one else in this class with his physical potential.
Robinson is typical of many blue chip defensive linemen in that when he comes to play, he leaves a trail of destruction in his wake. However, like a lot of them, he plays down to his level of competition. In addition, Robinson plays offensive line in high school rather than defensive tackle. Even so, he's extremely strong, moves well laterally, and can come off the ball quickly. He uses his hands pretty well too.
Manning is a little undersized compared to some of the other guys in the class and he's certainly nowhere near as big as his older brother Demarcus (who was a five star in the 2005 class). However, he more than makes up for it with an explosive first step and the athleticism to stay low and get leverage on his opponents. He also moves well laterally and keeps his head up and follows the ball really, really well. He's got quick hands too.
Huggins is a guy who has the frame to be a nosetackle and the lateral movement to be a three technique. The thing that makes him special is that at 6 foot 4, he's on the tall side for a defensive tackle but he has great knee and hip flexibility. Those items enable him to get down low in his stance and come off the ball like someone smaller. Thus, you're talking about a big guy who maintains leverage can be explosive like someone smaller. He also has really good laterally movement and can skate down the line to chase a play outside.
Walker is a lower wide body who has a pretty good first step and has the athleticism to stay low and get into the backfield by attacking the shoulder of the opposing lineman. With his leverage, he's not a guy that you are going to knock off the ball but he's also capable of making plays in the backfield. He can also go from sideline to sideline and chase you down.
Hughes is a big, big guy who has all of the tools you would want to see in a nosetackle. He plays low enough even at 6 foot 2 that no one is going move him off the ball. He does get by on his size and really isn't a first step or run down guy.