2014 Texas Longhorns Football Recruiting: Defensive Line - Poona Ford, Derick Roberson, Jake McMillon, Chris Nelson

Poona Ford

Hilton Head, SC
5-11, 280


I've already written up Ford and he may be my favorite recruit because he tests the boundaries of conventional wisdom with respect to his position.  Ford and the Texas coaches will have to do their part to develop his body so that he can maintain the speed and mobility that make him such a special player.  WIthout it, he's just an interior speed bump destined to be overmatched by bigger athletes.

I'm penciling him in now for lead blocker in our goal line sets.

**

Derick Roberson
SA Brennan
6-4, 230


A high school version of Charles Haley, Roberson is a gliding pass rusher who uses length and big strides to lull blockers while he covers ground quickly, erases cushion and swoops in for the sack or pressure.  He was a dominating performer for SA Brennan and possesses a variety of football athleticism that isn't easily captured on a stopwatch or in the weight room.

After watching him in the state championship game, it's clear that he lacks strength at the point of attack and although he deserves his high rating, it's one predicated on his potential and shouldn't be misinterpreted as a guarantee of early playing time.  Roberson needs to throw around some iron before he's ready for prime time.

Roberson excels in pursuit, has a long wingspan and has the athleticism to time deflections and bat balls so that he's an impediment to a quick set passing game.  He'll excel in a defense where he's uncovered by the TE and is able to chase and pursue QBs flushed by inside pressure created by the interior DL, create mayhem against the short passing game in zone drops or with deflections and own the weak side of the formation to the boundary.

**

Jake McMillon
Abilene
6-3, 240


If drafting a team tomorrow to play for the Texas state title, McMillon is near the top of my list.  If drafting for a game played three or four years from now, he's probably not.

#44 is an early maximizer who absolutely dominated high school competition with power, great effort, and natural instincts for the game.  His film is undeniably good.  But projecting him forward in the college game is a challenge. McMillon doesn't appear athletic enough to play on the edge at a high level and any projection of him inside is strictly conjecture as it will require another 50 pounds on a frame that may already be near its best athletic carrying capacity.

After a redshirt, his development could go in a number of different directions - DT, DE, blocking TE, even interior OL, but your guess is as good as mine.

**

Chris Nelson
6-2, 285
Lakeland, FL


The strangest film for any 2014 Longhorn recruit belongs to DT Chris Nelson.  As a senior, the 280+ pound Nelson played QB, MLB, TE and FB for his high school team, effectively showcasing athleticism, but forcing one to wonder why a big man's best impact on defense isn't found destroying the opponent's interior DL (Nelson was a DT as a junior).  Is the high school coach more interested in making a statement (or motivating an athlete bored by interior DT play) than developing Nelson at his future position?
While fellow recruit Poona Ford boasts similar multi-dimensional film, it's an exciting complement to his flawless DT play.  Nelson's junior year film clips at DT, on the other hand, range from barely FBS worthy to outstanding and a lack of a senior comparator makes projecting him a wild shot in the dark.  Nelson is a project who will need some time remaking his body and refining his technique before his impact can be felt.
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