Defensive line recruits are pretty neat.
Atlanta (GA) Georgia Sports Prep Academy weakside defensive end Tai'yon Devers committed to the Golden Gophers tonight, becoming the 16th prospect of the 2016 class. A midyear enrollee, Devers will officially sign this Wednesday, and is eligible for winter strength & conditioning sessions plus spring practice. Tai'yon graduated from Pompano Beach (FL) Blanche Ely High School in the spring, and has only been playing football for 2 years. Devers qualifies as a sleeper recruit as he's yet to be rated by any of the Big 4 recruiting sites, and chose Minnesota on his official visit over his other finalist, Central Florida.
Minnesota has the 47th ranked class according to the 247Sports Industry Composite, good for 10th in the Big Ten.
Film room evaluation from Gopher247's Will Henry ($):
Devers has the makeup of a good Big Ten defensive end. Possesses great football IQ defending the run, using his length to remain disciplined at the point of attack. Doesn't have natural explosion in his/start stop, but has rare ability to contort and dip body to bend corners against tackles, suggesting he has intriguing upside as a pass rusher.
(Likely Fraudulent) Measurables**
** The section title is a bit. It's an intentionally facetious comment on how recruiting sites (and even some college coaches) notoriously exaggerate traditional combine measures -- especially the 40. No offense is meant.
Weight: 220-205 lbs.
Prep year highlights:
Fairly easy comp here. As an undersized but long defensive end, Devers fits the mold of Theiren Cockran out of high school. Like Cockran, Tai'yon will have to put on significant weight and strength before he's ready to play in the B1G, though he'll get an extra S&C session in by enrolling midyear. Since Devers is new to playing football, especially defensive end, he also shares something in common with one time Gopher target and eventual Virginia Tech player, Dadi Nicolas.
Right now, Devers projects more as an effort and pursuit defensive end versus an explosive pass rusher. He does showcase the ability to sink his hips and bend around offensive tackles to attack the pocket, though he'll need to get faster and more consistent with his first step to evolve into a more polished pass rusher. Ironically given his size, he'll likely contribute earlier as a run defender since he displays a solid understanding of how to contain/set the edge, and uses his hands well to disengage blockers. Don't expect to see Devers hit the field until 2017 at a minimum.
Impact on Other Prospects?
Claeys has landed two midyear enrollees within the last week along the defensive line, further building depth to a unit decimated by injuries this fall. The staff would love to add Chicagoland DE/DT prospect Amir Watts, though they'll have to fight off Nebraska and Northwestern for his signature. There's also the possibility of a JUCO defensive end in this cycle, particularly one with advanced pass rushing abilities, though Claeys will be selective and not just take anybody.