Defending our Selections: The Sophomores’ Third Level-The Last Line of Defense…

In this article we will feature the players we selected in the back four of our fictional sophomore defense by featuring the defensive backs, be they corners or be they safeties. In this class, we selected two of each. We will briefly describe for what we were looking at each position. In assessing corners, the selection committee looked for athletes with great feet, change of direction, body control, and loose hips. In watching film and highlights, we looked for corners with quick back pedal, who stayed low and could flip their hips without losing much speed. We attempted to identify corners who transitioned very quickly. By transitioning, the committee looked for corners who could go from a pedal to closing on the ball seamlessly. The quicker a player is in transition can mean the difference between a pass completion and a pass breakup or interception. The selection committee believed an ideal corner plays press, off, and zone-coverages equally well.

For our safeties, the committee looked for many of the same traits as a corner but to a lesser degree. For the most part, safeties are bigger then corners but, not necessarily, when dealing with high school players. The committee preferred some bulk on our safeties, where we could find them, and, if possible, we preferred some length on both our safeties and corners. In identifying the attributes we desired at safety, we looked for safeties who may not be as athletic as our corners but still had a high degree of athleticism. Of course, a safety with corner athleticism was a plus because it made the safety more versatile and a player with whom the team could do more, deployment wise. As we have done with position groups healthy in members, we are featuring the defensive backs by class in separate articles. These are the Class of 2021’s, KPGFootball Sophomore All-State, defensive backs…

C-JJ Richardson, 6-2, 150 pounds; Meade County

This is a guy who missed some games owing to injury but, when he got back healthy, what a performer he turned out to be. Richardson is someone who has a two-way future at Meade County, though the Green Wave are a 6A football team on the rise. Teamed up with JT Godsey and with Austin Oppel transferring in from Indiana, the Green Wave are a team with which the Classification will have to reckon as early as Fall, 2019. Richardson is 6-2 now, with really long arms and legs, which usually indicates he isn’t done adding either length and/or height to his already long, tall frame.

Richardson runs a 4.7 second, 40 yard dash, which plays like a back-end 4.5 owing to the defensive arc created by both his height and length. As Richardson continues to mature and develop, that 40 time will drop; but again, and we can’t stress this enough, kids with Richardson’s frame can get away with being a couple tenths slower than a shorter corner owing to his height and length. Back-end height and length plays fast. Players lucky enough to have it will get to plays it would take a 4.5 to defend for shorter players. JJ also projects as a safety at the next level, too. Depending on how thick he gets while maturing and strengthening himself, offseason, will determine just where he gets deployed in the future.

Regardless, Richardson saw both offensive and defensive snaps this past year and we believe that will continue through out the remainder of his high school career. As a sophomore, in only 8 games of action, JJ tallied 26 tackles and an interception while forcing a fumble and breaking up 10 of the opponents’ pass attempts. JJ Richardson is one of the most coveted college prospects in Kentucky’s Class of 2021. For our purposes, he is also one of its best and most versatile football players. That is why he made our All-State Football team!

SS- Brett Coleman, 6-3, 180 pounds, Belfry High…

Brett was deployable, this past season for the Belfry Pirates, at both strong safety and in the box, at OLB. If you look at his seasonal production, which we will detail shortly, you will see he played OLB for most of the year, as Belfry is too good a team (10-3 in 2018) to have a safety making the amount of tackles attributed to Coleman. Brett is a player who has the perfect frame and athleticism to get a ride to play college ball, on the FBS level, at OLB in a 4-3 defensive scheme. He’ll have to gain some pounds these next two years for college recruiters to start seeing him deployed that way, which we are sure will be no sweat.

In our defense, since linebacker is the deepest position group in the Class of 2021, we decided to make Brett Coleman, who was too good to not have on the All-State Football team, a strong safety. In 2018, Coleman tallied 116 Tackles with 4 TFLs. Though we don’t have any up-to-date speed or quickness numbers on Coleman, and have no idea how well he tests at combines, we can tell you that, on offense this year (he’s a two-way player at Belfry), Brett rushed the football 84 times for 589 yards rushing with 6 rushing TDs. Brett also has the ability to play QB, should he be called upon for that responsibility. All of that tells KPGFootball (and told its selection committee) athleticism, speed, and quickness are not in question with this particular player.

FS- Reggie Thomas, 6-1, 150 pounds, Campbellsville High…

When we first saw Reggie Thomas play football he was the other end of a very potent passing tandem of Hash to Thomas for one of the Team Kentuckys we regularly cover. Whether it was for FBU elite or Future Stars, we are both unconcerned and uncertain. Like so many of the kids to whom we have awarded this All-State distinction, Reggie is one of the more versatile athletes in the Class of 2021, state-wide, as he is a star in both baseball and football at Campbellsville High School.

Among the back-four guys, Reggie had one of the most productive years playing for a team which made the Regional Final in the 1A classification. Campbellsville lost, at State Champion Beechwood, in its Regional Final appearance and finished 11-2 on the year. What an improvement Campbellsville High School has experienced since both Hash and Thomas joined the varsity roster over the past two seasons!

Reggie Thomas tallied 86 total tackles with a back-four, All-State team leading, 8 tackles made behind the line of scrimmage. Thomas also registered a QB sack, forced a fumble, and picked off 4 passes. Thomas’ four picks in 2018 was, likewise, tops for our All-State back-four in an important statistic in the eyes of many. KPGFootball would have forecast, three years ago, Reggie would be on this list at WR. Oh well, he’s on the list, that’s the important thing!

Bryce Yates, Image from off his Hudl Page, uncredited

C-Bryce Yates, 5-11, 155 pounds, duPont Manual High School…

DuPont Manual, which is properly duPont Manual, is one of the schools in Louisville which fails to regularly update, and keep current, its statistics on the KHSAA website. This particularly hurts prospects as that site is virtually the only source selection committees, members of the news media, and coaches researching a prospect’s high school production access to research a kid’s numbers.

As an example, duPont Manual’s Eli Blakey, a member of the National, Under 17, Football Team, may well have had a good enough year for inclusion on this All-State team but the KHSAA website relates he only played 5 games, failing to register any remarkable numbers at any of the positions he played. Now, Bryce Yates, whose family subscribes to KPGFootball was able to reach out to us and inform us as to his real production which we were able to corroborate the numbers he gave us through a disinterested source.

The above is why Yates is on this team where Blakey isn’t. There is another reason Yates is on the team…he’s considered by everyone who would know such things as one of 2021’s best back-four players and overall prospects.

Bryce has a long frame, for a corner, which figures to get even longer still. He presently runs a 4.7 second, 40 yard dash which will go down as his gains physical maturity and his vertical explosion increases. Bryce has registered a 4.2 second pro-agility shuttle, which is really good, well ahead of where one might expect a sophomore in high school to time in a drill measuring both change of direction speed and spacial quickness. After all, corners are called upon to change direction all the time.

Bryce registered 55 tackles in 2018 and lead our All-State back-four with 19 pass-deflections (same statistic as both Passes Defended, and Passes Broken Up). Yates was second among the All-State defensive backfield with 3 interceptions and Yates forced a fumble, along the way. Yates’ numbers are made even more impressive by the fact he played 6A football and the Crimsons played 6A State Football Champions Louisville Male, 6A power Louisville Ballard, 6A power Butler, and one of the most storied 6A programs in Louisville Saint Xavier all in 2018. Yates, as Manual’s best corner, regularly drew the assignment of defending the opponent’s very best WR, game in and game out. Yates had to personally cover 7, Division I, college prospects this year alone. What does that do for your impression of the numbers Yates registered? It impressed us too.

Yates bench presses 185 and squats 225. It will be fun to see how fast Yates’ runs the 40 when he is squatting about 375, will it not? Not another member of this All-State team has more football IQ about how to play where he is being deployed than does Yates. Yates is the very definition of the type of football player this team exists to recognize.

Well, that is the defense of our selections for the sophomore back-four representing Kentucky’s class of 2021. KPGFootball is quite sure that, while these may not be the very best at their respective positions in the 2021 class; they are, definitely, among them. All of these players have distinguished themselves both on the field of play and in the class room. It will be fun to follow these guys as they continue to develop and play football next Fall. You will continue to hear plenty from these players in 2019 and beyond. 

Reporting for KPGFootball, this is Fletcher Long reminding all of the ballers out there that #WeGotUCovered and to PLAY THROUGH THE WHISTLE.

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