Below is an interview I conducted with Mr. Derrel Warren of Pacific Coast Recruits. He has scouted high school football prospects since 2010, and has had his work published on SB Nation, 247, and The Ringer. I noticed in the last month or so Mr. Warren make positive comments on Kentucky's own Bud Dupree and Julius Randle, so I asked him for an interview and he accepted. If you're on Twitter I suggest you follow Mr. Warren @yssd for his thoughts on basketball, football, and recruiting. Without further ado, here is a lightly edited interview with Mr. Warren.
This summer you've said on at least two occasions how impressed you are with "Bud" Dupree. On the last occasion you said he was your favorite college defensive end to watch on film. What qualities impresses you most about him relative to this year's other DEs?
Well, the obvious answer would be athleticism and versatility that Dupree flashes, both playing defensive end or coming off the edge from a stand-up position. However, deeper analysis reveals a passionate player who plays the game with an infectious energy and isn't overly reliant on physical gifts. This is evident not only when executing his primary duties as a pass rusher, but also when you observe him chasing down running backs 20 yards downfield or sacrificing his body for teammates by taking on blockers in the run games.
If he has a good season, and impresses at the combine, how high do you think he can go in next year's NFL draft?
See, now that's a tricky question. Dupree's safest NFL projection from a positional standpoint is most likely at 3-4 outside linebacker. Now, this is a draft that should feature its share of traditional 4-3 pass rushing defensive ends taken relatively early. And as we both know, that's a valuable commodity that tends to get drafted a bit higher than your 3-4 outside linebackers.
Personally, I feel that with continued improvement (and health), Dupree should hear his name called somewhere in the first two rounds of the 2015 NFL draft.
I'm not sure how closely you've been following Kentucky recruiting under Mark Stoops, but as UK fans know, it has undergone a complete turn-around. Are there any recruits from Kentucky's 2013 Class or its 2014 Class that you had a chance to evaluate and if so what are your thoughts on them? Also, have you been able to do that with any of the 2015 Class commitments?
Oh, I've definitely taken notice of Kentucky's improvement on the recruiting trail under the Stoops regime. First, being able to keep a national recruit like Matt Elam in-state was a big win and shouldn't be dismissed merely due to Elam being "local". I've followed recruiting long enough to have seen many high level recruits spurn in-state programs when the big boys come calling, USC linebacker Lamar Dawson being a previous example.
I also noticed that coach Stoops capitalized on some of the relationships he was had built at his previous post as defensive coordinator at Florida State; signing former Nole targets, defensive end Z' Darius Smith (2013 JUCO commit) and running back Stanley Williams. Not to mention Tallahassee, Florida product Kendall Randolph.
Kentucky's main recruiting target this cycle is five star running back Damien Harris . What are your impressions on their current abilities and how do they project for this next level?
Damien Harris is a runner with a high ceiling due to the speed and athleticism he displays as a bigger back. Regardless of where he signs, once he locks down a starting position he'll serve as the foundation of that team's run game as a back who can handle a heavy volume of carries and be a threat to rip off big gains as well.
Originally Dupree was recruited to Kentucky as a "jumbo athlete". When recruiting teenagers do you think schools recruiting them as "athletes" is better for them in the long run since it's a candid admission they haven't developed into a specific college role yet and prevents them from being pigeon-holed?
I'd have to agree with this. Of course, most kids have an idea of the position that they would like to play at the college level. But, examples like former UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr show that a coach and player being on the same page could be the difference between a kid maximizing his potential or never making a true impact on the depth chart. The earlier an accord is struck between coach and player, the better. Whether that occur during the actual recruiting process or once the staff has the opportunity to see the kid in pads.
Of all the 2015 class of high school recruits which ones do you think Kentucky fans will be hearing about on Saturdays in a few years? Which 2015 recruits are your favorites?
Some of my favorite recruits this cycle have to be guys like Clemson wide receiver commit; Deon Cain, cornerback Kris Boyd from the state of Texas, and of course elite Virginia-area defensive end Josh Sweat. Georgia receiver Preston Williams (Tennessee commit) registers as someone else who has easily has 'Sunday' level talent as well.
You've also made several positive comments on former Kentucky player Julius Randle in the lead-up to the NBA draft and in the aftermath as well. How would you evaluate his game?
Randle is a unique player. Primarily in the respect he displays a rare combination physical strength and lateral quickness. In the NBA that say "effort is a skill" and that's something he displays in abundance. I think folks will be surprised with his ability to face-up NBA bigs and exploit his quickness advantage.
I'm not sure if you're a Lakers fan or not, but do you think Randle being selected 7th was the correct spot for his talent? If not, which of the six teams that passed on him made the biggest mistake
Personally, I'm of the opinion that Randle's ability off the bounce will be a more featured component of his game at the professional level. It translates easier than his post-up game in my opinion. Now, I know his jump shot metrics weren't the best in his only season in Lexington. However, he displays pretty good form and a confident stroke. And, I do feel that the ability to hit elbow jumpers will eventually become strength of his in the NBA.
To be honest, I do think that Randle was probably selected around where he should have been. Although, a legitimate case could be made that the Celtics maybe should have given him more consideration as the number six selection. That said, I do anticipate Randle becoming an early fan favorite once he dons the purple and gold of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Thanks to Mr. Warren for taking the time to answer to answer our questions. Go 'Cats!