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The Pirates are probably not pleased with the Hokies this year. With offensive line prospect Jonathan McLaughlin flipping to the Hokies, he joins Jamieon Moss, a linebacker recruit out of Elizabeth City, who did the same thing earlier this year. It is a little ironic that the Hokies are the one plundering Pirate booty. Yes, that’s a pirate joke folks.
McLaughlin is a player who has flirted with Virginia Tech in the past but his grades needed work, which is why I’m guessing his commitment took this long. ECU is an easier school to get into since the Hokies have an extra math requirement that most colleges don’t have. Once he completed the necessary classes, McLaughlin decided to switch his pledge to the Hokies.
The offensive tackle prospect hails from Mauldin, South Carolina even though he’s spent the last semester up here in Virginia. Shane Beamer was his lead recruiter throughout the process.
Weight: 295 lbs.
Location: Mauldin, South Carolina
High School: Mauldin High School (Fork Union prep)
Offers: Virginia Tech, Virginia, Wake Forest, ECU (former commit), UCONN, Marshall, Hampton, Florida International, Coastal Carolina, and Furman.
To be honest, I haven’t followed McLaughlin that much over the years but I assume he’s gone to a few camps since 2010. Judging by his highlight film, I really can’t justify a higher or lower ranking for him than what all three scouting services give him. He’s a solid three start prospect in my book and all three sites seem to agree.
Prediction Based on Film Evidence
Rivals.com has some updated film available but the only free filmstrip I could find is his 2010 highlights. That would mean the attached video above is from his junior season. Really, with offensive linemen, you have to look for a desired trait and recruit guys with that desired trait hoping they can improve in other areas. Most offensive line prospects are not going to have great technique. They’re not going to possess great awareness. They’re going to be good in one-on-one blocking and manhandling people who are smaller than them.
When it comes down to it, you have to recruit an offensive lineman that’s physical, naturally strong, smart, and tough. Then, you just have to hope they piece everything together mentally and can develop into an All-Conference performer. Sometimes they work (Duane Brown) and sometimes they don’t (Tripp Carroll).
McLaughlin has a lot of good physical traits. He’s has good upper body mass, good strength, good hip swivel and good lateral movement. In his senior highlights, he shows a bit more polish but I don’t recall a clip where he took one somebody who even looks like a division one defensive end.
His technique needs some work. He’ll have to work on hand placement, playing lower, working on how to maintain leverage, and improving in the weight room. The South Carolina native isn’t going to be someone you can pop in right away and expect success. But I think there’s enough raw ability here where he can develop into a two year starter in his upperclassman years.
The good news is McLaughlin did prep and could enroll as early as January 2013 if his grades are in order. That would allow him to go through a spring practice then redshirt this upcoming season. He’ll be one of the rare 20 year old freshmen in 2014 but that extra semester could benefit greatly in his final two seasons in Blacksburg. Plus we’ve seen that extra semester pay off before in regards to Caleb Farris, who greyshirted then avoided a redshirted year the following fall.
To sum it up, I like this commitment mainly because it gives us four offensive line commitments in this class. But, I like McLaughlin as a prospect. He has a good amount of potential to work with. Plus, if Tech replaces their offensive line coach, maybe we see some of your younger players start to take a step forward earlier on in their careers.
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