September 15, 2010

Anderson Has Two Very Different Halves

KERVILLE, Texas - With the pass happy offense of Kerrville Tivy and current Oregon commitment Johnny Manziel it seemed a perfect time to have a look at Cibolo Steele defensive tackle Marquis Anderson. The 6-foot-3, 280-pound four-star prospect was set to chase Manziel around the field all night but that was before a peculiar decision left Anderson in a wait-and-see style of play.

Steele, with the hopes of keeping Manziel as a one-dimensional weapon, chose to keep their defensive linemen at home and prevented them from upfield pass rushes. As such there was little chance to see just what Anderson was capable of until the second half in which Steele, thanks to Manziel's 19-for-24, 244-yards and four touchdowns in the first half, drastically changed tactic.

Rather than worrying about keeping Manziel in front of them they attempted numerous blitzes and unleashed Anderson against an overmatched group of interior Tivy offensive line.

Through the second half he showed impressive footwork and a surprising collection of moves for a tackle that so rarely is forced to face players of his own talent level. During the game Anderson rarely took plays off and went for longer stretches than most large-bodied high school prospects.

Technically Anderson is still a work in progress with both his pad level and use of his hands but with a player of his skill set there is plenty of reason to believe he'll continue to grow as a technician in the college game.

That is if he is given the chance.

Several have wondered whether or not one of Oklahoma's talented crop of 2011 defensive tackles might get a look along the offensive line. Interestingly Anderson didn't play a single snap on the offensive side of the ball and if he were, his make-up is much more that of an interior offensive lineman than a tackle, which is often where the Sooners have placed their defensive line to offensive line transfers.

More than Marquis & Malcolm

Obviously the entire recruiting world is well aware of Anderson and five-star teammate Malcolm Brown but the Knights aren't without young budding talent, as well as a pair of seniors who have yet to get their due as a college prospects.

Leading the way is 2012 quarterback/athlete Tommy Armstrong. The rangy athlete stars as a zone read signal caller for Steele and shows off impressive speed and surprising skill as an open-field runner, though during the game Armstrong actually made a bigger impact throwing the ball than on the ground as Brown was the focus of Steele's rushing attack.

Armstrong connected with senior receiver Blake Gardner for a 27-yard touchdown with nice touch.

Aside from Gardner's impressive route-running he showed off nice burst during his five-catch 85-yard performance. He was joined in a talented group of receivers by sophomore Breylann McCollum, who in spite of generally being a second or third option showed ability going over the middle and sure hands that will lead to more catches over the next year and a half from Armstrong.

The final piece of the puzzle worthy of some recognition is linebacker Ryan Simmons, who the Sooners had some interest in early but seem to have cooled on as of late. The 6-foot-1, 225-pound linebacker showed great ability getting sideline to sideline and was more comfortable in his pass drops than most of his young counterparts.

Star Power

For all of the talent on the field it would be impossible not to talk about the amazing performances of both Brown and Manziel.

Brown took a while to get going posting the vast majority of his yardage in not just the second half but the fourth quarter. However, it seemed once Brown got rolling his downhill running style was simply too much for Tivy to contend with. One lengthy run after another showed why Brown is considered one of the nation's elite backs.

He'll need to continue to work on pad level that he plays with and simply gaining the same type of strength in his upper body that he already has in his legs but with numerous skills a few tweaks to his game could make him the difference maker Texas has been looking for in the backfield since the departure of Jamaal Charles.

While Manziel not match up to all the physical measurables at his position like Brown, he was probably the only player in the country who put on a more impressive singular performance than the skilled back. Manziel took advantage of an odd defensive tactic in the first half but proved the performance was no fluke as Steele threw everything at him in the second yet he still put up another 184-yards and two scores in the second half to help salt away the 54-45 victory.

Manziel will be an interesting fit in the college game with his dual-threat ability but don't let his slight stature fool you, Manziel has a surprising arm and quick release, he could be yet another Texas high school quarterback who surprises everyone who didn't get the chance to see him play in high school.

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