2015 Prospect Profile: DE Joshua Alabi

Cass Tech has produced top BCS talent consistently for the past decade and 2015 shows the continuation of such a trend. Three Technicians have already gotten plenty of BCS attention, though none more than 2015 stud defensive lineman Joshua Alabi. Will Brady Hoke and staff be able to keep this top Cass Tech product in state, or will he too be lured elsewhere?

Film and Ratings

This film, which keep in mind is from his sophomore year, shows why Alabi is consensually ranked as one of the top three players in the state of Michigan.

Detroit Michigan Cass Technical High School 6'5", 260 pounds

Rivals: N/A
Scout: N/A 247 Sports: Four-star, #26 OT, #229 Overall

Alabi is an intriguing prospect, in the sense that he is versatile to the extent that he actually plays both sides of the ball. This is oftentimes common among underclassmen prospects, so it will be interesting to see what position he decides to buckle down and set his sights on playing in the next level; most scouts project him as a defensive lineman, though, if this is any indication. ESPN ranked him very high in their first ESPN Jr 300 release, and he should end up as a high four-star.

Breakdown

Frame: A
The one thing that immediately stands out with Alabi is his size; he is an absolute monster physically, making him almost unblockable. Scouts talk about how big the 6'4, 248 pound 2014 five-star DE Da'Shawn Hand is, and Alabi is almost exactly the same size, perhaps even bigger gauging by some websites' measurements. He's still a very raw talent, having only been in the game for a few years, but the solid frame that he already possesses as a rising junior yields a tremendous upside that fans should be really excited about.

Strength: B+
The highlight film really backs up this rating, and is really what I used to make this evaluation. The fact that he plays OL too should signify a pretty solid strength rating as well, but Alabi is a highly above-average offensive tackle, as the 247 rankings suggest. His tremendous strength can be seen in the countless pancakes apparent in the film, and in his bullrushes as a defensive end. The reason that he is currently sitting at a high B rating right now is because of how raw he is as an athlete, as I mentioned earlier. He possesses a solid frame, but is on the lengthy side right now. He will continue to bulk up as his high school football career wears on, and this will do wonders strength-wise.

Explosiveness: B
The one aspect of his game that is inconsistent is his explosiveness, and frankly he does not get off the ball very well defensively. Scouts have compared his general movement on the field to that of an offensive tackle, which is fitting because Alabi plays that position but also concerning considering how he is going to project at the next level (a lot of schools, including Michigan, are looking at him as a defensive prospect). He is a high effort player. Once Alabi is in pursuit of an offensive player (or defensive player for that matter), however, there is no stopping that freight train. His first step will only improve as he attends more camps and, well, plays more football and gets accustomed to snap counts and play recognition.

On-Field Awareness: B
Alabi is relatively new to football--he has only been playing for three years now--so there is a lot that he is still learning. In his film you can notice that on defense he misdiagnoses some run plays as pass plays, and vice-versa--this flaw to his game should diminish through more experience and coaching. His play recognition skills, in short, need development for sure, but he is at a pretty solid standing thusfar as a rising junior.

Technique: C+
I compared Alabi to Hand earlier, but now I will sharply contrast them technically. Hand, as can be assumed by his #1 position ranking, has impeccable technique, with an array of moves and methods that allow him to make opposing linemen look silly. Hand has the size to bullrush defenders--which he will do occasionally--but he is much more difficult to defend because of his unpredictability. Alabi relies on the bullrush and similar power moves much more than defensive linemen, not to mention a top ten positionally ranked one, should. He is able to get away with an over-utilization of his strength at the high school level, but heightened competition would make his life much more difficult. However, his youth is a big advantage, as he still has two full years to refine his technique and basic DL skills before entering the college setting--camps and coaching will be integral to this development, and I expect him to take full advantage of both.

Ceiling: A+ Alabi is incredibly raw and has a relatively low football IQ (this, of course, because of his general inexperience on the gridiron), but these yield for a very, very high ceiling because these both can be manageably refined. He's a lengthy, naturally quick DE who will certainly benefit from added bulk, and his versatility could lead to him settling in at OT should his college coaching staff choose.

Recruitment

Alabi's recruitment has progressed faster than most, which is really good news for Michigan. He has already settled on a top five--he did so recently--despite possessing well more than five offers. His current group consists of Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. He has also received substantial interest and offers from the likes of Illinois and Nebraska. Michigan was the first to offer this pipeline product during their first wave of 2015 offers (they offered his teammate and fellow 2015 RB target Mike Weber as well around the same time). He has taken several unofficial visits--three to Michigan State, one to Ohio State, and five to Michigan--and will be taking two more real soon: one on Friday to OSU for their annual Friday Night Lights, and another to Michigan for the BBQ at the Big House on Saturday and Sunday. He is looking like a Big Ten prospect for sure, and a major subject of the UM-OSU rivalry in the upcoming months.

Prognostication

Although Alabi has an official Top 5, I really see two schools really in contention, those being Michigan and Ohio State. I really do see legitimate interest in Michigan by Alabi--his 5, soon to be 6, visits to Ann Arbor speak for themselves--which is something I never could really say about 2013 Cass Tech prospect and OSU commit Dame Webb--the reason why I name-dropped him is because I DO NOT foresee this Cass Tech product going out-of-state, and I think that fans should keep their ears open at the BBQ this upcoming weekend. In accordance with 247's Crystal Ball, which has Alabi slated at 100% Michigan, I wholeheartedly believe, and predict, that Alabi will be a Wolverine. The pipeline will be restored in a big way.

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