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A closer look at Brandon Singleton, Keith Washington, and Patrick Mekari

Cal got three commits last week. You already met Strickland, so let's take a look at the rest.

Brandon Singleton plays guessed it.
Brandon Singleton plays guessed it.
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

In which we look at an S in #NABSS, Brandon Singleton

Some notes:

  • While I don't know his exact speed numbers, a Google search reveals 4.5, and he looks quicker than Strickland, and maybe even the fastest of all the wide receivers to me. At 1:17, for example, the defense is set up in Cover-2 zone -- the corner is in the flat and as he goes deep, the safety is supposed to meet him...and he runs right by the safety anyway.
  • Some guys create space by cutting and juking, but Singleton's way of doing it is simply to maneuver around into it. Take the play at 2:29 to be an indicative example. Where there's light, he will go. Not a lot of moves from him, but it's just as effective. Really nice in space and a really skill to have on our squad.
  • Not at all surprised why Georgia Tech originally went after him. Hanhville runs a Wing-T, triple-optiony offense too, which would have made him a perfect fit there. Thanks in part to that offense, you know he's got to have some blocking chops, especially down the field after the ball's gone away from him, and you'll see that on the tape.
  • This is not really a knock on his play, but Brandon Singleton seems like a redshirt candidate to me -- although he's several inches shorter than Kenny Lawler (6'0 vs 6'4), they are similarly lanky and about the same weight. Very thin. Unless he really shows out, I figure the staff won't want to play all the freshmen anyway. He's also not incredibly physical after the catch, though, which is another reason to think about redshirting. Must add strength.
  • This is not to be confused with Carlos Strickland, who actually plays like Kenny Lawler. Both kind of do, actually, although to overly simplify it, Strickland would be Lawler minus speed and plus size/physicality, and Singleton would be simply Lawler-ish. (Talking about receivers already on the roster make for easy and somewhat useful stylistic comparisons, but no two guys are identical -- they're only analogues.)
  • Along with Noa, could be the punt returner of the future, thanks to how he looks around. Can't think of another obvious candidate right now -- they like Tre more on KR and Erik Brown didn't strike me last fall as an immediate option going forward.

In which we look at another converted QB-DB, Keith Washington

  • When beginning to watch this Keith Washington tape, I had to pull in Avi for backup, to make sure I wasn't crazy with what I was seeing...what transpired was a length discussion on which of the three converted DBs was fastest, or at least, how they all stacked up with each other. Though determining speeds from tape is an inexact science due to league qualities and what not, our respective conclusion is as follows: DePriest Turner (at a reported 4.4) looks the slowest, and Washington and McCrary are probably neck and neck.
  • Chew on that one for a second, you guys. The 4.4 guy -- even though it's probably not a legitimate 4.4 -- may be the slow one. The days of defenders chasing jerseys may be over in a season or two.
  • Again, with this tape being short on actual DB plays, we're looking for what we can learn about theme as athletes. Here, we can tell Washington definitely has the best burst -- when he goes, he goes. It's a very noticeable gear as soon as he takes his first step, like he was shot out of a rocket or something. In that area, he definitely exceeds McCrary, too. Combined with a very solid change of direction, that's going to be useful wherever it is they decide to put him.
  • File him also under very intriguing. With all of this considered, I'd say I like McCrary and Washington more than Turner as well, just because of how quickly he gets a jump on things.
  • The 6'2 and very lengthy Washington also is the tallest of any of the converts, as the staff moves further and further toward adding size in the defensive backfield. Maybe soon, we'll be big enough to compete against increasingly lethal Pac-12 offenses.
  • Avi wondered why Auburn didn't offer Washington as a quarterback, and I kind of see where he's coming from. Right in their own backyard, Washington is a mobile threat running some of the same plays Nick Marshall did, with a very tight, very quick release.
  • Also among the things Avi predicted: that one of these three guys would play this year, with the safety situation being what it is, and he put his money on Washington or McCrary. I'm not ready to make such a claim myself, but I thought that was interesting. We both definitely have a preference toward those two, though.

In which we take a look at the next brother, Patrick Mekari

I joked on Twitter last week that it feels like there must always be a set of brothers in Berkeley -- especially up front on the lines. This is because the Mekaris are only the latest in a recent string that goes back to the Cochrans and the Rigsbees, too.

There's a few different pieces to interpret with the Patrick Mekari offer, really.

Some scouting services project him at center, which would be baffling, seeing as we already have a much more highly regarded center prospect in Ryan Gibson -- then you look again and some other sites see him as a future tackle, which makes much, much more sense. As you may have seen with Jordan Rigsbee all season long, the Bears lack a true tackle opposite Steven Moore, and really, true tackles in general. Moore himself won't be around forever.

Whether or not they're able to keep Nick Buchanan -- at time of writing, not a sure thing -- Mekari is a way to ensure that there are at least two linemen coming, and particularly one at a position of dire need.

On to some tape stuff, in which I need to remind you again that I'm only doing my best with the OL:
  • Depending on where you look, Mekari's listed at between 280 and 300 pounds and 6'5, which is fine to begin with, but will obviously require further molding from here.
  • Because Mekari played center at Westlake, it's not exactly easy to tell consistently if he has the pre-requisite mobility to move when out on the edge, which is required for tackles (1:50 is one of the plays that looks promising). He definitely looks capable in these tighter quarters, though, with an alright, but not exceptional first step/move off the ball.
  • 0:00 - Perfect double team on what I think is power, but with a tackle pulled -- Mekari combines to handle the 1-tech with his left guard, then gets right up on the linebacker, pushing him all the way to the ground even after the running back has cleared him. This play will be repeated several times.
  • You always want guys who will go and finish blocks, guys who will run and look for work. At minimum, you want to see that trait in your linemen, and Mekari's got it. Very tenacious and willing to get dirty. Toward the end of the video, he'll run into the pile just to get a few more yards of push.
  • 0:50 - Against a blitzing LB in the A-gap, Mekari punches the tackle in front, then passes him off to pick up the extra rusher. He does meet the guy with good lean -- from what I've gathered, you want to be active but not too far forward over your feet so that you're falling over -- and a second good punch here helps to keep the QB safe. That's a trait that I can spot pretty often in the video -- Mekari reaching forward and making contact with enough power to drive the guy out of position, which is good to have.
  • Keeping in mind that thing I said about me evaluating offensive lineman, what I've also noticed is Mekari's wide base, consistently throughout this video. It's not something I remember ever seeing often from other linemen, at least, and I think that with his legs being so consistently spread far apart, he'd be susceptible to power moves or easier to knock over at this point.
  • Hand placement isn't always super consistent either. Can see on some of these clips what could be called a hold by refs.
  • Does have some okay strength right now -- multiple times, he faces down a zero tech one on one and handles the situation without much trouble. Obviously, as always and as most high school linemen do, there's still work needed. He's doing fine but not obviously dominating, in that department.
  • All in all, we should expect all the linemen at this point, regardless of how many there are, to probably redshirt. We'll check back in on his progress after some further development and growth with Mekari, which is what two star guys tend to need for a bit any way.