Jake Raulerson is a coach’s wet dream. You watch the tape and you say “yep, that’s how you play football. Keep doing that. OK, see you later.” You don’t need to wear yourself out yelling, or get on his case, because wanting to crush anything you put in front of him is in his DNA already. Nobody needs to motivate a lion to maul an antelope.
He was identified early as a must have, not only by Texas but by 40 or so other schools, and treated as such. He’s clearly a very talented prospect, but is he in the same stratosphere as the Cameron Hughes and Kent Perkins type player?
Related: Kent Perkins Project 2013
For starters, he stands in stark contrast to the rest of Stacy Searels’ choices, a relatively thin 6’5 250, lacking the size/speed ratio of his future teammates. And while Tyrone Swoopes gets questioned for playing sub-par competition, Raulerson is afforded the benefit of the doubt. Videos exist of him dominating other top recruits a year older than him, but in high school, a complete grasp of fundamentals can dominate athletic ability well beyond your own. It’s why our state champions are mostly from affluent suburbs.
One of the country’s most successful high school teams, De La Salle, in Concord, CA, consists mainly of 180 lb. white boys who care way more than their opponents. Yes, they have the occasional future NFLer (and by now have grown to a point where good players flock to the school), but for the most part they are the modern day, whiter version of TC Williams HS. They run the same offense with the same methodology and they beat the shit out of everyone that steps in front of them, size be damned.
So what to make of this very interesting prospect?
I don’t know how to project size very well, unless the player is obviously skinny or tall. Raulerson already looks like an action star, with a thick neck and arms. I don’t know where his body goes from here. What he is not is the genetically freakish athlete than can just walk into a different meeting room and start rushing the passer, I don’t see an Aaron Humphrey ceiling here. I see a kid who is an expert at what he does, and any talk of moving positions is just a hedge in case he can’t gain the needed size.
However, how much size does he need? Leverage and footwork go an awful long way on the line of scrimmage. Jake uses 100% of his 250 pounds, and plays from a position of power on every down. He’ll be asked to block down or zone block, which does not require the big ass you’d expect, but does require good footwork, leverage and strength, things he has in spades.
However being undersized, or slow, means you have to play perfect football in order to win. If a bigger DL gets into his body, he can wreck he play by pushing Raulerson back into the play. It seems absurd now that anyone could push Raulerson around, remember that any team worth beating is going to have at least one good lineman that is good enough to do so. He does a lot of reach blocking on his highlight video, and most of those would get strung out by a stronger opponent.
His good news for you is that he’s probably the most polished, perfect offensive lineman I have ever seen in high school. Watch how his feet don’t gain ground while the rest of his body does in order to get his exceptional body lean, or how once he’s on you, he’s on you until the whistle. He understands his job and executes it thoroughly. His pass pro is rough, but whose isn’t? He gets the job done.
And it’s not as if the size he’ll need is all that uncommon. Most people gain 10 pounds by doing nothing more than turning 19, and hell, he’s not even a senior yet. His neck tells me he already knows how to dominate a workout, and his technique tells me he loves what he does. He might need a redshirt +1, but I’d guess he’ll end up where he wants. Most lineman need a few years, but in this case, he’s waiting on size, not technique.
Bottom line is, he needs another 30 pounds at least to play OL, and my personal opinion is that Texas will always have better DEs than what he could become. Texas drafted a first baseman, either he hits or he is out of the game. Worst case scenario, Texas ends up with a better Neal Tweedie. He’ll probably end up in the Will Allen / Lyle Sendlein / Kasey Studdard class, with a decent shot of being someone as good as Dan Neil. I apologize for not being able to think of any black player to compare him to.