In a recent Open Post, we mentioned a player out of Millburn, NJ, named Jake Pickard. If you’ve ever been to Jersey, there are two distinct divisions of the state. Northern Jersey which is basically an extension of NYC, and Southern Jersey which includes Atlantic City, a more suburban environment, Atlantic City, the pine barrens if you’re a sopranos fan and legends of the Jersey devil. In northern Jersey there’s a lot of good football that is played. Schools like Don Bosco and Bergen Catholic are perennial powers, and for years have supplied countless players to Notre Dame, Penn State and a lot of Big 10 schools. I always scratched my head as to why Rutgers couldn’t be a school with organic upward movement kind of like Miami had in the 80′s. Jersey is one of those states that if hs players didn’t leave for other states, the talent is so rich that it would be a tall task beating Rutgers.
Why this is all relevant is when you look at Jake’s film, there are a couple of things that jump out at you. First is his length. Jake goes 6’6″ 219, and has a frame that screams Dan Cody to me. Watching his film, after seeing about two plays, I had flashbacks to 2003 and 2004 watching Cody terrorize the Big XII. Those long arms are just uncanny in the resemblance as well as the athleticism. The next thing that jumps off the film to me is his first step. When we watch hs linemen, one of the things we always look for is who is first off of the line in the film. Offense or defense, to see who is quickest off of the ball is a good indicator of the explosiveness of the player. If you’ve checked out the film in the Open Post (which we will repost below) it’s easy to see that there’s really no competition for him when it comes to getting off the ball first. There were numerous plays that had me talking to myself again. What’s scary about Jake is while he’s only 220 lbs now, you see a guy who is lined up in the A gap for most of his film. At 220 lbs you’d think he’d get pushed around a bit, but it’s just the opposite. With that quick first step, he makes opposing offensive linemen look like they’re taking bad angles when it’s really that he’s just that much quicker than he is.
Jake reminds me of a guy that I played with in college named Steve Halvorson. Steve was 6’5 and about 270, and as a freshman when he was a senior was like trying to block a ghost. When you watch Jake, it’s a lot like that. You see linemen coming off the ball that are barely brushing shoulder pads with him. To see him doing it against a pretty solid level of football in Jersey too, is something that makes you think about what he can become. While he’s only 220 now, you have to remember that the kid isn’t even a senior in high school yet. By the time he gets to a college campus he’ll be 240, and after a redshirt year, he’ll be pushing 260 as a rs freshman, and there’s no telling how much weight you could hang on that frame. He would be the kind of guy who would be an absolute terror at that 4i spot that Coach Montgomery uses.
Jake is one of those guys when you look at his film it just makes you question is everyone else seeing what I am? The guy is severely underrated and doesn’t have any offers, but when you dig a little deeper, you find that he’s being presented to the world as a tight end. Where Jake is special is on the defensive line. 6’6″ 219 (could play at 280), runs a 4.75 40 and a 4.25 super shuttle. The 4.25 shuttle is what baffles me about this guy. That big and that quick? Geez that’s just not fair. And we’re not talking about some fluke shuttle time. He has run around that time multiple times.
Jake is going to be someone to keep an eye on for sure. If Monty gets in there and offers him, we may have a good chance of getting him on campus for a visit. His Dad played at Ball State under Coach Kish, so there’s a connection there, not to mention great athletic pedigree. Aside from all of the tangible stuff like measurements and 40′s etc., when you watch Jake, the guy’s just a football player. He’s one of those guys that just gets it done. While he’s underweight a little now, it’s not even an issue since he’s so quick and naturally strong. Kind of like an Eric Striker who’s 5’11″ on a good day finding a way to dominate a first round tackle.
Bottom line we are huge fans of Pickard’s game and he’s one of the top guys on our wish list for 2015.