August 24, 2013

Scouting Report: New Terp Jesse Aniebonam

TOWSON, Md. -- Terrapin Times has scouted the newest Terps commitment, Rivals 100 defensive end/outside linebacker Jesse Aniebonam, twice this year, first during a Good Counsel-Eastern Christian scrimmage, and then Aug. 23 during the season-opener between the Falcons and Gilman at Towson University. During the Gilman game, which Good Counsel lost 20-14, Aniebonam had about seven tackles, four tackles for loss and three quarterback hurries. Here's our analysis below:

Where he excels: Aniebonam rotates between the 3-technique and the 5-technique on Good Counsel's defensive line, and what's particularly impressive is his ability to beat bigger, stronger trenchmen despite being significantly outweighed. Aniebonam has rapid-fire initial quickness and has that knack for getting a jump on the snap, not to mention potent point-of-attack punch. His ability to gain a step and toss D-lineman aside is, at times, borderline uncanny.

Once Aniebonam has his man beat, he has enough power and drive to shoot into the backfield and disrupt the play. He gets on quarterbacks in a hurry, demonstrating a forceful bull rush and the necessary explosiveness and closing speed to succeed as a pass rusher at the next level. It only helps that Aniebonam can finish … with authority. This guy drives through his man, making sure his hits mean something, which is one quality that separates elite pass rushers from average ones.

During run plays, Aniebonam flashes solid athleticism. He's disciplined (doesn't overpursue) and has the want-to and wheels to catch runners in backside pursuit, sometimes tracking down scatbacks from behind on outside pitch plays.

More impressive, Aniebonam typically sheds blocks well, especially if he's coming downhill. He can pick through the trash and knows how to seek out ball-carriers both in space and between the tackles. He takes sharp angles to the ball and, once again, shows impressive closing speed. When Aniebonam moves in for a tackle, he drops his hips and uses his lower body to drive through his man. He wraps up well and rarely lets a runner out of his grasp.

Where he needs work: The main critique from this vantage point is Aniebonam's hand placement and rush moves. Sometimes he gets by on pure talent and skill, but he'll need to refine his technique to succeed at the next level. Right now, Aniebonam has a developed bull rush, but he needs to work on his other moves, namely a swim-and-rip.

Also, Aniebonam can play a little high at times and sometimes punches above the pads, limiting his power at the point of attack. It should be noted that, because Aniebonam will be asked to play outside linebacker at the next level, he'll need to work on his drops and change-of-direction speed. He rarely plays in coverage at Good Counsel, so it's something he'll have to get used to. Sometimes, when running plays go directly at him, he struggles to make immediate adjustments to match quicker, shiftier backs.

It would also behoove Aniebonam to add bulk in order to deal with burly Big Ten linemen/blockers at the next level. He's not a 3-technique athlete, but against some larger interior linemen at the high school level he can get worn down.

Compares to … : Derrick Harvey. Maybe not the NFL version of Derrick Harvey, but when Harvey was coming out of high school he was a 6-foot-5, 235-pound pass-rushing phenom before heading to Florida as a defensive end/outside linebacker hybrid. Aniebonam may not be quite as developed as Harvey was at that stage, but he has that kind of upside and potential given his natural speed and power.

Impact Analysis: A Rivals top 100 recruit, Aniebonam has the ability to contribute early during his college career at Maryland, at least as a situational rusher. But his immediate impact on the Terps' recruiting class could be even more significant right now.

Before Aniebonam's commitment, UMD's 2014 crop ranked 83rd in the country, according to Rivals, and they had failed to land any recruit higher than three stars. Aniebonam gives Maryland some much-needed recruiting swagger that could resonate with other elite prospects. Already Terps targets like five-star lineman Damian Prince and five-star cornerback Jalen Tabor are paying attention.

Aniebonam isn't a pied-piper type who will constantly be in the ear of other recruits, but his commitment alone signals to other talents that it's OK to choose Maryland. The Terps have been trying to convince top locals that by banding together and coming to Maryland, it could vault the program to new heights. Aniebonam's verbal is another step towards achieving that goal.

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