football Edit

Grading the 2020 class

Signing day is now in the rearview mirror for Middle Tennessee State.

Let's dive in and take a look to see how the class grades out, position by position.


Linebacker analysis

If you are going by the way Rivals has these guys rated, there are five linebackers in this class for 2020. Frank Peasant is a guy that can definitely play as a linebacker, but he is also a guy that can tote the rock as an all-purpose tailback.

We will keep Peasant in the linebacker category, simply because that is what he is labeled to be. Peasant posted some gaudy stats as a running back, though. He accumulated 2,104 yards to go with 24 total touchdowns.

Devyn Curtis is the one guy out of the fray that is pegged as a true inside linebacker. He attends prestigious in-state school Brentwood Academy and has flashed his versatility as a middle backer, but he can also give you an option as a tight end. Through nine games as a senior, Curtis had 112 tackles and four interceptions.

This leaves a trio of guys that are slated as outside backers at the collegiate level. There is Drew Francis and Johnathan Butler, both guys that have a big, long frames. Evian Irving is more of a speedster out there. I do think that you shouldn't lock these guys in a box simply because of a label. I think all of these guys are capable of playing any linebacker spot. Five is a good number of potential linebackers to have. Even though a guy like Peasant may end up a running back, It is good to have potential depth there.

Grade: B+

Defensive backs (signed):

There are three signed defensive backs for the the class of 2020.

Those guys are Davon Martin, Deidrick Stanley Jr., and James Shellman.

Shellman and Stanley are three-star talents, while Martin is a fringe three-star guy. Martin absolutely passes the eye test. At a height of 6'2 and a weight of over 180 pounds, he is one of those lanky, rangy guys that covers a lot of ground.

Shellman fits that mold as well. Heck, Shellman may have five or so pounds on Martin. Martin is said to be a cornerback in college, while Rivals lists Shellman as a safety.

Stanley brings a little bit more speed and versatility to the table. He is definitely shorter, which may be the knock on him. Despite that, though, Stanley covers lots of ground and possesses excellent ball skills.

These guys are talented but not completely polished. The talent is definitely there and with some fine tuning, this could turn out to be a excellent crop of defensive backs for MT.

Grade: B-

Defensive Line:

The line starts to get blurry when it comes to placing and assigning prospects to a certain position. Take Ralph Mency for instance. He is listed as an athlete, and he is a guy that can play tight end for defensive end. Mency is a guy who can pin his ears back and harass the opposing quarterback.

Wilson Kelly is a guy who has flashed some promise on the gridiron. You can tell that he has put in the hard work to become a better player over the past year or so.

Vincent Dinkins is a guy who I think has the most upside. He is a year one contributor in my book. He is a problem coming off of the edge. Dinkins is not a one trick pony. He can certainly rush the passer coming, but there is some physicality to his game as well.

Tyrece Edwards was a good pickup for the program. He is a heavy set defensive end, but he has a bit of nimbleness to his game.

The one issue I have is with the defensive tackle spot. Where is the beef? Kelly has potential, but I think the class could have been bolstered by more girth in the middle.

Grade: B-

Wide receiver:

There are only three true wideouts in this class, and I think it's a talented group. For me, Jaylin Lane is the bell cow of the group.

During his senior year Lane had 76 snags for 1,611 yards to go with 30 touchdowns. Lane could be the next stud Blue Raider wide receiver. He is a blazer and is slippery in the open field with the football. If you wanted to, you could argue the knock on Lane is his size. I don't think that is a huge issue. He will get stronger in a college strength program. Besides, his biggest asset is his elusiveness and his speed.

JaMichael Thompson is a hybrid between being a speed demon and a possession receiver. He is also a deep ball, red zone threat, with a height of over 6'2.

Bryce Bailey is another speedster to dovetail with Lane. I would like to see what Bailey could do with the rock on punt and kick returns.

The only complaint I could think of is that there is no jumbo wide receiver in this class. Meaning there is no 6'4, 230 pound receiver who presents a mismatch nightmare.

Grade: B+

Offensive Line:

If you are going strictly by the projected positions, MTSU has two centers and two offensive guards in the 2020 class.

The behemoth of the group is Jordan Palmer. Palmer is currently around the 320 pound mark. Palmer has size in spades, while Conner Griffin is more light-footed.

Griffin is taller, being that he is over the 6'3 mark.

Then there are the two projected guards Lance Robinson and Parker Rogers.

Robinson shows some explosion at the point of the attack. Rogers is a guy who plays with some nastiness and a chip on his shoulder. Both of these guys may need to bulk up, but there is plenty of time to do that.

I think one gripe is that there could be more big bodies in this class. Big boy football requires big boy bodies in the trenches. I don't see a prototype 6'5, 295 pound offensive tackle in this group.

Grade: C+

***Bonus Inclusion: Transfer running backs***

Ok, so we are cheating a tad here. Both Martell Pettaway and Amir Rasul are transfers that should have immediate eligibility for the Blue Raiders in 2020.

Pettaway has 1,104 rushing yards for his career. Pettaway has averaged 5.1 yards per carry. He also has 11 career rushing touchdowns. In 2019 he had 27 carries for 72 yards, which is 2.7 yards a carry.

His most productive year was 2018. Pettaway had 98 carries for 623 yards. That's 6.4 yards per carry.

Rasul has posted a bit less productivity, mainly when it comes to his number of carries. For his career as a Florida State Seminole he has 49 carries for 244 yards. That totals five yards per carry.

These two guys should give MT a facelift at the running back spot.

Grade: B+