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Class of 2021 Prospect Profiles: Tyler McLaurin

McLaurin isn’t talked about much, but has one of the higher floors in the class.

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler McLaurin

Position: LB

High School: Bolingbrook (IL), previously Montini Catholic (IL)

Measurables: 6-foot-2, 210 pounds

Ranking: Three-star (.8776 composite), No. 493 overall, No. 30 OLB

Other finalists: Iowa State, Michigan State, Nebraska

Accolades: 1x All-Area, 1x All-Conference

Recruitment

May was a good month for the linebacker room at Michigan. As discussed in the profiles earlier this week, Junior Colson and Jaydon Hood committed on consecutive days later in the month.

But Tyler McLaurin kicked off the month by committing on May 9, becoming Michigan’s second linebacker commit and the first to stick. Given the drama of Hood’s recruitment and Colson’s ascension into top-100 status, I’d argue McLaurin is the least-talked about prospect in Michigan’s class.

There was a point where it was a question if McLaurin was a take for the staff or not. When Michigan offered him in January, they immediately became one of his leaders. Michigan has crushed it in Illinois thanks to Sherrone Moore and McLaurin loved Don Brown.

But Michigan already had Casey Phinney in the class and looked to be in really good shape with Colson, Hood, and in-state four-star Jamari Buddin, who has a similar skillset. The toxicity with Belleville reared its head again though, and soon Michigan was out for Buddin and added McLaurin to their class. Buddin became a lean to Penn State soon after.

Like Hood and Cristian Dixon, McLaurin transferred up to a bigger classification in his state to test his skills. At Montini Catholic as a sophomore, McLaurin helped lead the team to a 5A state championship appearance. Before his junior season, McLaurin transferred to Bolingbrook, an 8A school, the state’s largest classification.

He only got to play one season for Bolingbrook, who has produced several Power 5 prospects, but showed he could handle the transition. McLaurin had almost 100 tackles and forced four fumbles on the way to the state quarterfinals.

Unfortunately, he won’t be able to play in his senior year because Illinois pushed their football season to the spring and McLaurin will be enrolling early. At least he was given the opportunity to prove himself and gain confidence before taking the next step.

Stats

Junior (12 games): 92 tackles, 4 FF, 2 FR, 1 INT

Scouting

Maize n Brew scouting report

Pros:

  • Lengthy frame allows him to disengage from blockers
  • Good acceleration to knife into backfields
  • Instinctive in zone coverage while keeping eyes on the quarterback

Cons:

  • Needs to add strength to avoid getting washed by blocks
  • Tackling form has to be improved
  • Can be more aggressive and decisive in pursuit

McLaurin’s scouting report is going to sound a lot like the last few defensive prospects’. For one McLaurin is extremely lengthy, even more so than Kechaun Bennett or Colson. He looks like a deer running around on the field with his 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame.

That size makes McLaurin seem more like a safety, but his best traits are at the line of scrimmage. His long arms keep him separated from blockers and let him disengage quickly. He shows a few different pass rush moves that help him while blitzing.

McLaurin has good acceleration and body control to get skinny and prevent blockers from getting a good hand on him. When he makes contact, McLaurin has to work better on his tackling form. Too often, he tackles too high and fails to wrap up. This can lead him to bouncing off the ball carrier instead of taking him to the ground.

In run defense, McLaurin is instinctive but could trust himself more and be more aggressive in his reads. He likes to play it safe, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but I think his athleticism could lead him to bigger plays.

He also has to bulk up as much as possible to improve his leverage. McLaurin tends to get washed by blockers that climb to the second level and can latch on to him, given his slight frame. I don’t think McLaurin will have much more room to add weight since he’s built more like a basketball player, but he has to get stronger.

McLaurin shows a lot of reps of him in zone coverage, where he moves well in space and is good at staying with receivers. He keeps his eyes on the quarterback and can read where he’s going.

These skills give McLaurin a high floor and can allow him to see the field early if he spends his spring semester on campus really hitting the weight room.