Another Sunday, another commitment for Kill's crew. Entering the fold today? Cleveland (OH) Cleveland Heights HS linebacker/wide receiver/athlete prospect De'Niro Laster.
Laster was a fast rising prospect after a strong senior campaign after transferring from Shaker Heights HS to Cleveland Heights, picking up offers from Kansas, Temple (ha! an AQ school again -- who'd have thunk it?) and several MAC program, plus interest from Penn State, Georgia Tech, Purdue and Illinois. Laster is rated a 3 star by the 247Sports Industry Composite and is the second linebacker prospect to pledge to Minnesota for the 2013 recruiting cycle.
RT "@mucho_deniro Committed To Minnesota"— RyanBurnsGI (@RyanBurnsGI) December 10, 2012
ESPNU evaluation ($):
Laster is an intriguing prospect as a jumbo WR/H on offense and an outside linebacker on defense. He has wonderful physical measurables at this stage and is a good looking player on the hoof. ... Defensively, Laster shows flashes. Does a good job playing the outside run and maintaining leverage. Can separate and stretch out the run to the sideline or slip the block inside as well with quick hand escapes. Would like to see him play with a bit more knee bend, but he mirrors ball carriers well in space and breaks down soundly with good body control for a taller defender. Effective blitzer with his first-step quickness and bend off the edge.
The part about knee-bending is something correctable through Klein's S&C program, since Kill and his coaches have routinely discussed how most true freshmen are not as flexible in the knees as they need to be when they first arrive on campus.
Junior year highlights at Shaker Heights:
Senior year highlights at Cleveland Heights:
Senior year highlights via Hudl.
(Likely Fraudulent) Measureables
Weight: 210-220 lbs.
Fake 40 Time: 4.7s
The last time Minnesota signed a high school wide receiver turned linebacker recruit (his name was Rex Sharpe, by the way), I got really excited about the prospect of an ultra-athletic outside linebacker with speed to burn. As it turns out, the most lasting image of Sharpe's Gopher career was getting trucked by a true freshman Terrelle Pryor in Columbus. But enough with the negativity, for Sharpe was a JUCO with a clownfraud as a head coach, while Laster joins a program with stability and a chance to develop.
And develop he must, since Laster really only started to focus on playing defense this past year when it became clear outside linebacker was his ticket to an FBS full ride. His tall and long armed frame is reminiscent of another Brewster linebacker recruit, who also just happened to hail from Ohio: Willie Tatum. The main difference between Tatum and Laster, however, is De'Niro has less weight to put on in order to play OLB in the B1G effectively. Playing in the 230-240 lbs. range shouldn't be an issue for Laster, provided he gets the chance to develop at his own pace. Hell, maybe he grows into a MLB prospect, though his speed is more of an asset on the outside.
Overall, I really like this pick up for the Gophers. Again, usual caveats about the crapshoot nature of recruiting and rankings aside, these are the type of late blooming prospects that the staff needs to land and develop, since the more finished products coming out of high school aren't likely to sign with Minnesota in the first place. Now Kill and Co. can spend the rest of their linebacker recruiting efforts on grabbing some JUCOs to fill the gap at MLB.