Athletic versatility is an underrated trait amongst recruits. We are in the midst of a highly specialized era of football where players are increasingly being used for roles geared to their skill sets, rather than being demanded to live up to standards they may otherwise be incapable of. Pete Carroll frequently discusses this when talking personnel and how he's constructed the current Seahawks squad. He's big on not asking players to do things they simply cannot do. When you set up players to fail in such a way, it falls strictly on the coaches.
This is where athletic versatility becomes a tremendous asset. The more skills a player proves competent in executing, the more valuable he becomes. This can be extrapolated across a number of attributes: size, speed, agility, intelligence and so forth. Decidedly few players are capable of playing multiple positions. For example, there are hundreds of athletic, explosive players that simply cannot catch and thus will never be legitimate WR prospects. That's just one small example of the bigger question that comes with roster building.
Therefore, when you find a prospect that offers the potential for positional and skill versatility, it allows for more roster flexibility, something that benefits both the current roster and future recruiting classes. Devin Voorhies could be one such prospect.
Devin Voorhies first came on the scene in June of 2012, attending a camp in Baton Rouge. He so impressed the coaches they extended an offer after the camp, Voorhies first reported. Voorhies collected another offer from Ole Miss, then took unofficial visits to Oxford, Starksville and Louisville. On July 28th, nearly two months after receiving his offer, Voorhies committed to LSU and never looked back.
Voorhies took time to stop in to Baton Rouge every few months. Living in Southwestern Mississippi, in Woodville, LSU's campus remains a short one-hour drive away for Voorhies. He never took a single other visit, officially or unofficially, and his quiet recruitment is likely why he didn't receive more acclaim, despite being the Gatorade Player of the Year from the state of Mississippi. Despite playing out of position at QB for Wilkinson County, Voorhies tallied up 2,374 passing yards and 19 passing touchdowns to go along with 2,027 rushing yards and 15 rushing TDs. Not to be confined to offense, he went ahead and racked up 67 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles and 1 recovery. Versatile enough for you?
Voorhies will transition to safety at LSU, but his size and athleticism may allow him to explore other positions as need be. Voorhies is a composite four-star safety with a .9157 rating on 247Sports. That puts him around the 20th best safety in the country and nationally ranked in the 200s.
110 - 101 = Franchise Player. One of the best players to come along in years, if not decades. Odds of having a player in this category every year is slim. This prospect has "can’t miss" talent.
100 - 98 = Five-star prospect. One of the top 30 players in the nation. This player has excellent pro-potential and should emerge as one of the best in the country before the end of his career.
97 - 90 = Four-star prospect. One of the top 300 players in the nation. This prospect will be an impact-player for his college team. He is an All-American candidate who displays pro-potential.
89 - 80 = Three-star prospect. One of the top 10% players in the nation. This player will develop into a reliable starter for his college team and is among the best players in his region of the country.
79 - below = Two-star prospect. This player makes up the bulk of Division I rosters. He may have little pro-potential, but is likely to become a role player for his respective school.
Tale of the Tape
Short Shuttle: 4.47
That short shuttle is somewhat concerning. At 6'1", 197, Voorhies is currently the size of a DB and is listed on the roster as a S. Comparatively, Jamal Adams ran a 4.23 and Ed Paris ran a 4.27 in the short shuttle. The 4.47 is more like the time of a LB than a DB. That said, he's probably near the size of linebackers like Debo Jones and Tahj Jones. There's also reports of him running the 40 in the 4.5s. That's more than adequate size, but the agility is troubling. Where does he project at this size with those measurables?
I wish I had something more recent to work with, but outside of a very short clip on Geaux Zone, these are the only Voorhies highlights I can find online... and they are from his Sophomore season.
Strengths: Speed, Playmaking Ability, Receiver-like Abilities
Weaknesses: What is he?
Normally I would take the chance to break each of these out with individual writeups, but it's exceptionally hard for me to judge a player off Sophomore tape. We do know he's been super productive over the past two years, enough so to be considered the top player in the state of Mississippi. The bulk of the nine minute highlight above are plays with Voorhies taking the ball as the QB and scrambling around until something happens, either through him breaking a big run or launching the ball down field to someone. Safe to say, his future is not at QB.
But you do see this interesting combination of athletic skills. He's a playmaker, as you can see throughout, but especially on plays like 1:27. He's got WR-like skills, when he can scale up and make catches like 2:17. He's got start/stop ability that makes me question whether that short shuttle time was merely an aberration. Check 3:09 to see him make guys miss. He can accelerate top speed quickly. Check 5:45. At 6:26, he flashes sticky hands on a tough catch. And 8:35 he looks like an outright burner, tracking down a player from behind.
You put all these together and it sounds like you are talking about one of the 25 best players in the country. That said...
What is this guy? Is he a safety? Is he a press corner? Is he a smaller linebacker? Is he a wideout? Is he a punt returner? Is he a running back? I really am not sure. I love all the athletic traits, but for a guy who is projected by most to be a safety, I would like to see some clips of, you know, him playing safety or at least defensive back. There's about three to four clips on that entire nine minute reel of him playing defense.
Now, recruiting is as much about projection as anything. Technique can be taught. I'm very much a "give me the raw tools and we'll teach the technique" type of guy. So I have confidence he can find a spot. I'm just not certain where it is. Also curious is that his recruiting stock seemed to drop throughout the year, though he made the camp circuit and performed well.
Voorhies is not an easy prospect to evaluate. The lack of more recent tape really throws a wrench into things. But hell his dad is the Lieutenant Colonel at Angola, so I'm not gonna criticize him to his face. Really though, Voorhies seems like yet another grounded, focused kid in this signing class. That bodes well for his future. The question is still: where?
The safety depth chart looks fairly packed. Ronald Martin will be the only player for sure leaving the team this offseason. Jalen Mills' status remains up in the air, but it seems likely he'll be back. That means you have Mills, Thompson, Jefferson, Adams, Battle and Voorhies, as well as 2015 commit Kevin Henry, all contending for two safety spots in 2015. What if they move Ed Paris back to safety? There's just so many young bodies there.
LB looks a little more favorable, but he has some growing to do to fit there. Even there, playing time is probably two years off, at least. Is he good enough to be the third man in what is sure to be a Beckwith/Garrett LB duo in the coming years?
Could he play on offense? The receiver depth, or lack thereof, is well documented on this site. Lots of camp reports talked about how fluid and seamless he played the WR position in camp settings. People raved of his sticky hands. WR may be the position he projects best to. He's not the biggest guy and probably doesn't blaze a 40, but there's a toughness there that you like. Could he be a lesser version of Jarvis Landry?
I just don't know how to answer these questions. I think he's a guy the staff will move around a lot, even this Fall. Remember when coaches were fighting over Mo Claiborne? Voorhies may go through a similar saga, though I don't think he's the caliber of player that Claiborne was. But that's the whole point, isn't it? He's a highly skilled guy that can do a lot of things for the program. Why not figure out which ones he does best?
High End: Starter, somewhere on this team.
Low End: Special teams stud.
Realistic: I think Voorhies will wind up a guy that plays a lot but never truly owns a starting role. Perhaps he'll be the Ron Brooks of this group: a talented player that is simply beaten out by guys who are miraculously better than him.