Colleges recruit talented athletes with the intent on utilizing their versatility to fill gaps in the depth chart and get them on the field as soon as possible to help them win football games. Schools may have recruited them for a particular role, but 247Sports sees the potential for these prospects to play multiple positions. Here is a look at the programs have brought in the best group of athletes in the 2014 class to date.
Curtis Samuel headlines a versatile group of athletes for Ohio State.
1. Ohio State
Enrolled: Curtis Samuel (Brooklyn, N.Y./Erasmus Hall)
The Buckeyes have the top group of athletes in the country coming in, led by Samuel, a Percy Harvin-type playmaker that was utilized as a running back in high school, but is built as more of a slot right now. Samuel can be used in the backfield on end-arounds and misdirection runs as well as in the slot for bubble screens, where his quickness in space makes him very dangerous. As such, he should be an asset in the return game as well. Hubbard has the size and hands to be an asset as a tight end, but looking at his frame, he projects as a rangy outside linebacker that can fly to the ball exceptionally well. Brown is a raw, yet exceptional-looking jumbo receiver that should develop into a fine flex tight end/H-Back down the road. Brown has large hands and some big-play potential because of his size and above-average straight-line speed. Hooker appears to be ready for a smooth transition to full-time defensive back, where his ability to turn and run could make him a solid cornerback. If he continues to add solid weight, a move to safety is a possibility as well, where his willingness to come up and lay a hit and ability to win the jump ball should be an asset.
Once again, the Volunteers have strength in numbers, with several quality athletes on board for 2014. Like Derrick Henry in the 2013 cycle, Hurd has outside linebacker size and ran over and around questionable competition in high school, and likewise Hurd will look to silence doubters by bringing his irresistible combination of size/strength/speed to the offensive backfield at running back. Berry is an experienced playmaker on offense, but has the physical makeup of a hybrid linebacker/safety in college, and his potential on defense might be where he sticks long term. Creamer, built like current Vols receiver Jason Croom, is a physically imposing target that looks to still be growing. His measurables make him an outstanding redzone target, as he seems very comfortable catching the ball in traffic. He should be able to line up inside and should be an asset in the red zone with possible growth into a flex tight end down the road. It is difficult to pick a skill position that Wharton would not excel at in college. Wharton is adept at taking snaps out of the backfield, can line up in the slot, can play some at cornerback in a Cover-2 , and could end up at safety down the road once he has a year or two in the college strength program. Regardless, he should be an asset in the return game immediately because of his fearless, blue collar approach. Dews slashes the ability to be a productive blitzing linebacker, but is going to need to spend a lot of time getting stronger right now, as he appears rail thin.
Committed: Jourdan Blake (Princeton, Texas/Princeton)
Hall is an incredible two-way standout that excelled as a safety and at wideout, where he is expected to start out his career for the Bears. Is extremely smooth in and out of his breaks and can use his size and change-of-direction skills to get lot of yards after the catch. He shows true centerfield ability at safety with the ability to line up and cover or help in run support. Williams has H-Back size but projects as a potential workhorse running back that can power downhill, get solid yardage outside the tackles and a reliable option out of the backfield in the short passing game. Blake is an exceptional athlete that will move from quarterback to defensive back in college, where his speed and ball skills will come in handy. On interceptions, Blake should be considered a threat to take it to the house every time.
Commitments: Bo Scarbrough (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Tuscaloosa County), Keith Holcombe (Tuscaloosa, Ala./Hillcrest)
Simply put, Scarbrough is the alpha male of athletes. A big, strong, punishing runner, Scarbrough is able to get away with his upright style by using quick feet and good vision in traffic to avoid the toll of direct hits on his body. His size and very soft hands out of the backfield make him an option to line up at receiver when not getting carries. With high upside as an outside linebacker as well. Holcombe has a great frame to work with at outside linebacker or tight end, but his exceptional range should make him a prime candidate as a weakside defender that cover a lot of ground in pursuit. Superb tackling form should get him on the field early on special teams as he grows into his body.
Commitments: Austin Roberts (Carmel, Ind./Carmel), Nathan Starks (Englewood, Colo./Cherry Creek)
The Bruins have to be excited about the potential of Roberts, who projects as a nightmare for defensive backs in the red zone. Throw it up in traffic, and Roberts should be able to use his long arms, strength and leaping ability to beat defenders for the jump ball. While he does not project as a burner, his strength also gives Roberts some big-play potential as he muscles his way through the secondary on underneath routes. Starks could project to safety, but most likely will start out as a potential load back that can stay on the field to block or catch on third downs, which could keep current two-way Bruins standout Myles Jack fresh throughout the season.
Other top classes: Florida State, Virginia, Mississippi State, Virginia Tech, LSU
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