Atlantic High School
Delray Beach, Florida
There's a YouTube video after the cut.
Karnell Hatcher is an old-fashioned head-knocking strong safety. His job is to punish people who have the ball and aren't wearing the same color uniform as himself. And if you don't believe me, you can watch this YouTube video of him. The production is cheesy, but you get a sense of the kid's ability.
Those are highlights from his junior season, and as you can see he makes his living making tackles. He looks competent at the pass coverage part of the position, but his tackling is where he excels. Oh, and he also blocks kicks.
He reports a 40-time of 4.6 seconds, which is about average for a safety is you believe it's accurate. He reports a 35" vertical leap, which is exceptional, and shows that while he may not have outstanding speed, he has great burst, which is the more important attribute.
It's hard to know what Hatcher's future is at LSU. There is really good depth at that position right now, and with there being the possibility of getting a great recruit like Craig Loston in 2009, Hatcher may have his work cut out for him. All in all though, I think he is a solid player. He reminds me quite a bit of Craig Steltz, who was not a speed burner, but was a good tackler and good overall athlete out of high school. I think Hatcher is more of a pure strong safety, where Steltz was a hybrid of strong safety and free safety.
(To review, a strong safety's primary responsibility is run support, where a free safety's primary responsibility is pass coverage. A free safety has to be faster and have better coverage skills, while a strong safety needs to be able to hit and tackle.)
I seem to recall there being some talk of Hatcher possibly being a fullback, but I might be thinking of someone else, and he seems a little small at 186 pounds to really be effective at that position unless he gains 30 pounds or so of muscle. I wouldn't expect Hatcher to play as a freshman, unless he really makes himself invaluable as a special teams player. I think one way or another Hatcher is going to be an excellent special teams player one day, and he has a real shot at being the heir apparent at strong safety when Harry Coleman leaves. (Chad Jones is more of a free safety, but he's such a good athlete that may win the strong safety job over Coleman despite playing somewhat out of position. Plus, the way LSU plays, the different safety positions are more-or-less interchangeable anyways.)