Assembled is a preseason ranking for the top outside linebackers in College Football Recruiting for the class of 2013. These top 3 performers have tested extremely well at national camps and figure to make more noise in their senior seasons.
1. Jaylon Smith -Fort Wayne (IN) Bishop Luers- The extremely athletic Smith has really helped himself this summer, most recently by his great performance at the latest Nike camp. Smith was clocked at a 4.59 40 yard dash while measuring in at 6’3’’ and 212lbs. Smith has shown excellent coverage skills and great range. Smith committed to Notre Dame in early June, and looks to play the Dog outside linebacker position in the Irish 3-4 defense. I really wouldn’t be surprised to see him eventually get moved to strong safety, considering his size, speed, and coverage abilities, much the way the Irish moved Zeke Motta from linebacker to safety early in his career. Smith’s versatility only increases his stock. Early Prediction: Notre Dame.
2. Matthew Thomas- Miami (FL) Booker T. Washington- The 6’3’’ 205lb Thomas comes from a powerhouse high school in Miami and has simply dominated, registering 117 tackles and 13 sacks in his junior year alone. Thomas, much like Smith, is very fast, athletic and rangy. Thomas recently came out and said that Florida State has taken an early lead over Alabama for his services. Thomas absolutely fits the description of Florida State linebackers, which historically has emphasized speed and athleticism. Thomas reminds me a lot of Dekoda Watson and the ‘Noles would love to get that kind of production out of him. Early Prediction: Florida State.
3. Mike Mitchell- Plano (TX) Prestonwood Christian Academy- Mitchell has great size for a linebacker, and at 6’4’’ and 216lbs, has an excellent frame for growth. Florida State, Ohio State and Texas A&M are the early leaders for Mitchell, and he has said he wants to visit all of them before he makes a final decision. Mitchell has indicated that he has a great relationship with the Aggie coaches, but is also attracted to the thought of the Buckeyes history of pumping out pro linebackers. Mitchell is a sound tackler (151 tackles, 11 sacks, 2 interceptions in ’11), with excellent versatility. Don’t be too surprised to see Mitchell at either middle linebacker or defensive end at some point in the future. Early Prediction: Texas A&M.
Smith, Thomas and Mitchell all have excellent versatility, which is certainly one of the things that make them so attractive to the big programs. The beauty of these players is that they can all play multiple positions at the collegiate level. There is still plenty of time for surprises for the services of these young men, but all three have narrowed their lists considerably. It will be very interesting to see the final decisions they make come February.