LSU secured a commitment from Orlando, Fla. Linebacker Dr. Phillips DeMario Tolan on Thursday, July 8. Florida talent offers a mix of linebackers and safety skills that can be used by LSU coaching staff.
Versatility is as close to a required skill as any attribute for a college linebacker in today’s college football world. A linebacker needs to be able to adapt to unusual movements, shifts and line-ups while still being able to play pass coverage against wide receivers, tight ends and running backs.
The linebacker isn’t what he used to be. This is why LSU’s landing in Tolan is important. Once Tolan dresses in a Tigers uniform, he can help take on several roles. It’s already 6ft 2in, 215lb, and it continues to fill up. Tolan’s advantage is really high. Here are three video clips that help define Tolan’s abilities.
Tolan played for Kissimmee (Florida) Tohopekaliga last season before being transferred to Dr Phillips this spring.
This first piece embodies the nature of college football in the modern age. Tolan plays a bump blanket in front of a wide receiver, reads the screen, performs a hard side cut, and explodes towards the intended wide receiver.
This game allows several options to take place. Due to Tolan’s understanding of the roster, he probably knew a screen was coming. It means that this young man understands the importance of reading his keys. Second, you cannot teach Tolan’s lateral burst. He’s very talented and it never goes out of style. Third, Tolan finished the tackle without hesitation. If he even offers just a moment of opportunity for the wide receiver, this game could still go for positive yards.
Like the screen pass above, this next Tolan clip showed off his physical talents. He attacks the line of scrimmage to make a run fit, moves sideways to position himself for a tackle, then engages the ball carrier and knocks him down. However, it is more complex than it seems.
Far too many linebackers would have just charged the offensive linemen instead of moving sideways to avoid them. Tolan saved time and energy by using his athleticism. It is a very good game made to look easy when in fact it is played very well by a real athlete.
This latter set also produces a good racing fit with the added “scratching” of the block. Instead of taking the block directly, Tolan used his quick feet to position himself to move sideways after contact. Once the offensive lineman placed his hands on Tolan, that’s when Tolan retaliated by using his outside hand (on the touchline) to grab the outside edge of the offensive lineman’s jersey and project it forward and beyond itself. Then he ran straight to the ball carrier.
Long-term skills and flexibility of the position
Going through Tolan’s film allows us to better understand what this young man can do. He’s versatile enough for LSU to play him as a weak fullback linebacker, strong fullback linebacker, or any variation of special packages involving a 3-3-5, 4-2-5, nickel or dime forfeit. In short, LSU can move Tolan to several specific linebacker positions, depending on the particular pattern of that game, due to his natural athleticism.
The most important aspect of Tolan’s abilities still lies above the shoulders. Game after game, Tolan’s instincts proved to be the most important part of his abilities. It doesn’t matter how fast a linebacker runs if he runs to the wrong place. Tolan rarely finds himself out of position, which leads to big defensive plays. Coupled with his enormous side-cutting ability, his natural speed for running as a safety instead of a linebacker, and his penchant for slashing his way through blockers, Tolan’s football IQ makes him a big pick. -up for the Tigers.