This episode of Head to Head Battles takes a look at the linebacker picture of two potential commits in Jimmie Swain and Noah Furbush. Darrion Owens is also a real possibility to fill the third linebacker position, but he was just recently profiled here. Dwight Williams is another name in the mix, but appears to be more of a middle linebacker as opposed to Jimmie and Noah. This version of Head to Head Battles will look similar to the last one with several categories that each have a winner, with an overall winner selected at the end. If you want to leave any tips or critiques on this newly introduced piece, feel free to address the message board or Twitter at @nickBBR.
Jimmie Swain Profile: Jimmie is a 6’2.5”, 210lb outside linebacker prospect according to 247Sports. The composite 3-star hails from Lee Summit, MO (Lee Summit Sr.), and is listed as the #6 player in the state. Jimmie comes in ranked as the 31st best OLB and the 382nd best player nationally for the 2014 class. He reports offers from Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kansas State, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Northwestern, TCU, and Tennessee.
Noah Furbush Profile: At 6’4” and 240lbs, the Kenton, OH (Kenton) prospect is listed as both an OLB and WDE. Noah is also a composite 3-star according to 247Sports, but is rated slightly lower than Jimmie as he is the 43rd best OLB and 562nd best player nationally. The 247Sports Composite also has him listed as the #32 prospect in the state of Ohio. He holds offers from Bowling Green, Duke, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Missouri, Nebraska, Purdue, Tennessee, Toledo, and Vanderbilt.
Jimmie: Jimmie is listed at 6’2.5”, which is a more than an adequate frame for an OLB in the 4-3 Under. Currently 247Sports has him at 210lbs, so he would have to add a good 30lbs before he was at an ideal size for the position. Jimmie looks fit to put on the weight without affecting his game too much, so getting to that size shouldn’t be a concern.
Noah: If Jimmie has good size for the position, then Noah’s size is great. At 6’4”, he has exceptional length to play the SAM, and should be able to use his height to leverage blockers better. He is also 240lbs, so he is already at a college playing weight.
Jimmie: Does a good job of diagnosing the play, and breaking quickly to the ball carrier. Changes direction well, and has the burst to make plays in open space. Gets into the backfield with ease on blitzes, and has the lateral speed to keep up with runners outside of the tackles. Has the range to make plays from the far side.
Noah: This will probably be a reoccurring factor, but I think that Noah looks to be more of a WDE in this respect. Coming off of the line Noah has good speed, but appears a little heavy-footed for the Sam position. His speed while pursuing the runner is decent, but he lacks the quickness to adjust to make tackles in open space.
Jimmie: Great in this regard. Seems to be a natural LB, and can move around with ease in the open field. Reacts to cutbacks well, and has the speed to make up ground. Uses this ability to maneuver around blockers and get to the ball carrier quickly on run plays.
Noah: This may be one of the biggest reasons why I feel that he would fit better as a WDE. Noah seems rather stiff in the hips, and is less effective when playing behind the front four. He is at his best when attacking the backfield, as opposed to diagnosing the play from the LB spot.
Jimmie: Is a sound hitter with above average technique. Does a good job of throwing his weight into a tackle, rather than wrapping up and weighing the runner down. Usually puts himself into a good position to make a clean hit, but has the ability to latch on to players that get outside of his base.
Noah: While he may be the harder hitter of the two prospects, he lacks consistency. Noah does a good job of not losing the ball carrier, but has trouble bringing them down by himself. I would like to see him using his 240lb frame more effectively to void the need for assistance, as he can be a victim of the wrap up and drag technique mentioned earlier.
Jimmie: This was one of the toughest areas to judge a winner. Both prospects bring different abilities to this area of their game. Jimmie is quicker and utilizes his speed to get around the slower blockers. His change of direction and burst allow him to get outside of the blockers’ core, and he has the arm strength to fight past reaching blocks to get to the runner.
Noah: Isn’t as fast as Jimmie, but appears stronger and more technically sound in this area. This is another category where his skill set would better reflect a WDE, as he can shed blocks better when coming out of the three-point stance. Jimmie is more effective when getting past blocks when he can get linemen in open space or out on the flats. Since we are evaluating the prospects as potential LBs, the results are…
Jimmie: At this point in his development, Jimmie has adequate strength to compliment his quickness. He is able to utilize both to get past the subpar talent in Missouri. As is the case with all high schoolers, he will need to add weight and strength before he is ready to compete at the college level.
Noah: Comes in weighing 30 pounds more than Jimmie, and appears to have the strength to match. He does a good job of fighting past blockers in traffic to get to the runner. He too will need to get stronger before he steps on a college campus, but this is one area where he has a clear advantage.
Jimmie: With his quickness and ability to change direction, Jimmie presents a good foundation to build off of in regards to pass rushing. His technique will need to be refined to get past more advanced lineman, but at this level of competition he can just run past opposing players. I would trust that Mattison would be able to maximize his tools, and Jimmie could turn into a solid pass rusher.
Noah: Seems better fit to rush the passer from a three-point stance, where his speed would be more of a benefit. Isn’t particularly explosive, so he would need to be a fundamentalist to be an effective blitzer. Lacks the skill set to be a real threat in this regard.
Jimmie: There isn’t hardly any film regarding this category, but what is there shows that he at least has the ability to be good in pass coverage. With his speed and instincts from the LB position, I see him more than fit to guard tight ends, which is probably all he would have to worry about. Unproven, but the potential is there.
Noah: Just like Jimmie, there isn’t much on him showcasing his pass coverage abilities. The one play he has showed an impressive positioning and reach, but it was just one play. He is more of a threat to swat down passes with his frame, but his speed would be a concern while covering guys in man coverage.
Jimmie: Composite 31st best LB, and would be 6 spots away from becoming a 4-star. Would be slightly outside most sights’ top groups at #382. Top offers from schools such as Arkansas, Kansas State, Michigan, Northwestern, Nebraska justifies his high 3-star ranking.
Noah: Comes in slightly lower ranked as the 43rd best OLB and 562nd best player nationally. Boasts top offers very similar to Jimmie (minus Arkansas), so he should be expected to rise somewhat while still remaining as a 3-star. Might not be rated as high as Jimmie, but it’s not enough of a difference to determine anything from it.
While this series currently has the Whose Line Is It Anyways mindset that the points don’t matter, a 7-2 victory is pretty telling. If both were to be on the roster today, I would pick Noah as the better option given that he has the size to currently compete at the position. Outside of that, Jimmie is the clear-cut better option at the Sam position. With the staff already bringing in Lawrence Marshall, as well as being high on the lists of Da’Shawn hand and Garrett Dickerson, it is a safe bet that they are recruiting Noah as an OLB. That is why he was scouted as such, although I feel that he would fit better on the defensive line. I don’t normally feel this way about players that Michigan is recruiting, especially this early in the process, but I would be relatively disappointed to see the staff accept a commitment from Noah. I don’t see him as a good fit for a specific position, and lacks the athleticism to be a flexible option. I trust that Mattison and co. have had a better look at Noah, but from his highlight film I wasn’t impressed. Jimmie, on the other hand, would be a great pick up for the third LB position. His best position is a Sam LB, but he could turn into a serviceable player at Mike too. I would need to see more film on pass coverage to justify him as a better fit for a middle linebacker position, but there is definitely the potential to play inside.
For the time being, it looks like Noah would be closer to committing to Michigan than Jimmie, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see either join the class. 247Sports Crystal Ball has Jimmie 100% to Northwestern, but that number could be deceiving as I feel that Michigan is much closer than indicated. Plus I like Michigan’s chances in a head to head battle with Northwestern, as they both play in the Big 10, have strong academics, but Michigan has the much better football program. Noah looks to be headed to Michigan based on the Crystal Ball, but Ohio State could be a factor if they offer. Since both players have Northwestern high on their lists, a commitment from one to NU could result in the other committing to Michigan. Just as a side note, I think that the Crystal Ball is flawed and not the most accurate tool, but it is nice to judge popular speculation on a prospect’s predictions off of. Stay tuned to BBR to see how the LB situation plays out for the 2014 class, and as always, Go Blue!
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