- Sam Khan Jr., ESPN Staff Writer
"Coach's take" is a series which allows GigEmNation to offer readers a closer look at the incoming recruits in Texas A&M's 2013 class by visiting with someone who coached the player or coached against him. Today, we take a look at Port Allen (La.) High School linebacker Darian Claiborne by visiting with his head coach, Guy Blanchard.
The 6-foot-1 220-pound Claiborne is a three-star prospect who is ranked as the No. 35 inside linebacker in the country. He helped the Lions to an 10-5 record and an appearance in the regional round of the Louisiana Class 3A playoffs. For the season, Claiborne finished with 59 tackles, nine tackles for loss, three interceptions and five pass breakups on defense. On offense, he played quarterback and threw for 1,338 yards and 11 touchdowns while rushing for 919 yards and seven touchdowns.
Here's Blanchard's take on Claiborne:
GigEmNation: What was your first impression of Claiborne when he entered your program?
Guy Blanchard: "Darian started for us as a freshman. The first three or four games out of the box of his freshman year he didn't start but he was getting in a significant amount. And when he did get in he was making plays already. So he played for four years for me and my impression of him as a freshman was that he had a lot of potential and needed a little direction. He got that and has been able to work hard and accomplish a lot of the things that he wanted to.
GEN: What are his biggest strengths?
GB: "The biggest thing with Darian was his character. He's a true leader. The last few years he has had to play not only linebacker but quarterback for us. His football IQ is extremely high. He understands coverages, he understands defenses, he understands defensive schemes and why we do the things we do defensively and offensively and he's learned that by having to study it from both points of view. So he has great character and leadership skills. Every kid that's recruited to play in the SEC is going to have ability and there's no doubt about that. His intangibles, character and hard work, studying and being on time and being able to pick up things and understand why people are doing the things they're doing is what I think makes him special."
GEN: What are the areas he needs work in as he transitions to the college level?
GB: "No matter what anybody says, it's going to take time for him to adjust to the speed of the game. He's going to have to be extremely detailed at that level. There's not a lot of margin for error. Like I said, I think that's where he has to improve but I think that's a good thing because that's one of the things he does best, study and playing and working. Adjusting to the speed of the game and becoming extremely detail-oriented are the two biggest things he's going to have to focus on.
GEN: How do you see him fitting into the SEC and at Texas A&M?
GB: "I visited with Coach Sumlin [recently] when he came through and I think what they're planning on doing with him is a great plan for him personally. They want to try to have him play that 'WILL' backer and I think personally, that's a great position for him. Him being able to run to the ball and make plays and blitz off that edge and then when he needs to, get into coverage, I think a spot that accents his abilities. I think A&M truly nailed it on the head with him. He has the skill set it takes to play that position. They did a great job of scouting and recruiting and getting a guy that fits their needs. If you watched him play and watched their schemes you can see how Darian would fit what they're trying to do."
2hSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information
1dEdward Aschoff and Greg Ostendorf