I don't claim to know whether or not the Cal coaching staff has a competitive rankings board based on recruits brought in somewhere in their office, but I do know that if there is one, then Rob Likens is absolutely crushing it so far.
Three prospective Golden Bears have signed on for the Class of 2015, and all three fall under Likens' purview:
- Wide receiver Austin Aaron (duh)
- Defensive back Malik Psalms (Chino Hills, which falls in the Inland Empire, Likens' recruiting territory)
- And now, wide receiver Greyson Bankhead, (which, while also duh, involves the fact that Bankhead is from Corona, which also falls in the Inland Empire. On an unrelated note, I absolutely love his name, as screaming it at the top of my lungs makes me feel like T.I.)
It is clear, from this trend, that the #learntup -- and as the progenitor of the term within the Cal twitter community, you're welcome, coach -- movement stays killin. Welcome, Greyson, and congratulations, Coach Likens!
Rivals: 3 stars, 80th ranked player in California
ESPN: not rated
247sports: not rated
Scout: 3 stars
Obligatory: the rankings are not yet updated at some of these sites, and there's a long way to go before the final evaluations are in. So, not to worry. We'll be revisiting these early commitments in the fall.
Let's get this one out of the way with first. At a mere 160 -- and perhaps a generously listed 170 -- pounds, Greyson Bankhead is indeed very, very small right now, and it's absolutely imperative that he puts on some good weight in order to fight off stronger defensive backs at the next level. That statement is going to be true of any recruit we bring in, of course -- it's only particularly true because of how small he happens to be already. No need to harp on it for too long though, seeing as it's kind of a given. This makes it highly unlikely he's an immediate contributor in '15, but who knows. Teenage bodies can change dramatically in that timeframe.
But let's also understand this, because despite the size, he does fit in nicely with what we do. The System demands a constant supply of skill players out wide in order to help fuel its blistering tempo, and that appetite serves among its many advantages. The base four wide receiver looks set up tremendous schematic and tactical flexibility -- there's that word again -- to roll out players anywhere between 5'10 and 6'5, 170 pounds to 230, and everything else in between all at once, mixing and matching in order to get advantageous matchups one way or another.
This diversity of wide out trickles right down to the two guys committed so far, who really could not be more different in size and game. Austin Aaron, who we covered a few weeks ago, is a big body and red zone threat who usually got open -- again, on tape -- by running deeper and faster than his opposition.
Bankhead, by comparison, looks to be a far more polished route runner, just from the first play of the tape [00:15]. This is him creating the opening, as he takes a subtle step to the outside to get the DB's hips turned, then another vicious one back inside for the post. Two steps. That's enough to free him from the helpless Bosco defensive back, and he's got just enough speed to escape the other tremendous athletes pursuing him. Really, a variety of refined jabs, fakes, and otherwise tricky maneuvers are in his arsenal. Take a look at [00:55], for example -- Bankhead turns his like he's trying to run the drag/cross, and then bursts back up the seam on a go. Easy touchdown.
Sorry, poor guy who bit on the fake.
At least you are only the first of many victims on the film who fall prey to Bankhead's intelligent usage of his body, including the guy at [5:30], who is pushed out juuuust enough to the sideline due to Bankhead's footwork. Same at [6:40], where Bankhead runs the corner route so close and precise to the DB that he can't really get turned around in time to do anything about it. I'd suspect his physical frame doesn't allow for him to dominate anyone the way Aaron can, but getting open like this is just as good.
You guys know I love skill players who can actually move well with the ball in their hands, and this is another area where he differs from Aaron. Not only is Bankhead a bit faster and a lot more dynamic than his fellow 6'5 Bear Raider, Centennial gets him the ball in a variety of ways throughout -- there's screens, slants, bombs, some little endaround pitch type things at [2:18, 2:46, 7:01], and even a reverse pass [6:24; 7:56]. I can only imagine what Tony Franklin will encourage or dream up.
Now, I don't have Centennial's playbook, so this part is mostly guesswork, but it also looks to me like he's fairly skilled at reading defenses and cutting routes on the fly. In some of these clips, he's quickly turning around for the ball whenever he sees any daylight at all. Check out [4:19] for what I mean --- Bankhead gets a clean release off the line and is looking downfield first, but as soon as he recognizes he doesn't have coverage, he cuts the route into a curl before the safety can get in. Easy catch. You'll see it happen a bunch of times [7:14; 7:26, for example], on plays that remind me very much of the packaged stuff I covered earlier in the week. As soon as he's open or looks at the coverage to find himself open, he's turning and looking for the ball, more often than not, on the exact same page with his quarterback. The dude finds space, and he gets open. This quality, his smaller than ideal frame, his adequate speed and good route running kind of reminds me of the Wes Welkery mode, who, surprise, starred in a similar Bear Raid offense of his own at Texas Tech.
Obviously there's much to be desired in terms of blocking, given his size, and though [3:23] is given on his tape as an example, it's really just him running into a backpedaling DB with full momentum. In my opinion, that particular play indicates his willingness to block -- it happens like 30 yards downfield -- more than his actual ability to do so right now. [3:27] makes him look quite a bit better, but I think it's fair to say it's not his strong suit yet.