Next up in our 2023 UW Recruiting Profile series is Landen Hatchett out of Ferndale HS, WA. Having a firm belief that the lines are the foundation of any team, I decided that our next couple of breakdowns should focus on Scott Huff’s eye popping offensive line class. Check out my breakdown of fellow ‘23 OL commits Elishah Jackett and Zachary Henning.
I feel like it was just yesterday that we were getting fired up about Geirean Hatchett’s commitment to play on Montlake, but here we are a couple of years later looking at the very real possibility that we’ll see both Geirean and now Landen Hatchett suit up for our Dawgs. Landen, the middle Hatchett brother is the latest Hatchett brother to commit to our Huskies out of Ferndale HS and keeping our pipeline of in-state offensive linemen flowing (I’m keeping an eye out for the youngest Hatchett brother to graduate from being the star of Geirean & Landen’s recruiting photo shoots to having his own soon enough).
Standing at a stout 6-3 and 295 lbs, Landen has the look of a P5-ready iOL, and while not as highly touted as his older brother, I might actually like his collegiate potential even better. Geirean was a higher rated prospect during this phase of his recruitment because of his slightly taller frame at 6-4 or 6-5, giving him the perception of more positional versatility, whereas Landen at 6-2 or 6-3 is strictly an interior offensive lineman. However, taking inside/outside versatility out of the equation, I think Landen has All-Conference potential as an iOL.
As I’ve mentioned in several other recruiting breakdowns, its the seemingly “little things” that make a big difference at the next level, and Hatchett checks a number of boxes when it comes to the little things. First off, when looking at all offensive line prospects, and especially iOL prospects, the ability to play center is a tremendously valuable skill. Being able to get off a clean snap when under center and in shotgun is one thing, but being able to play center is more than just snapping. Just the simple dynamics of getting the snap off while stoning a burly DT with only one hand for your initial punch is incredibly difficult for even high-level OGs and OTs to figure out. For that reason alone, I personally value a high-end center over many OTs and all OG-only prospects.
Hatchett does that and more. Not only can he snap and perform the basic run and pass blocks at a high-level, but he is also an excellent pulling center, and being a good pulling OL is the second trait that both I and Huff look for in OL prospects. Any big brute can lunge forward and occupy an opposing defensive lineman, but pulling requires a level of athleticism, awareness, and technique that separates your run of the mill HS OL from a college-caliber OL. I say that from personal experience having been a crappy HS RG that routinely got bowled over by my RT on counter plays because I was too slow on the kick out despite him outweighing me by 50 lbs (that guy ended up being an All-MWC center for SDSU). While many linemen in option offenses like Ferndale’s get reps as pulling blockers, its very uncommon for HS teams to pull their centers because of all the same reasons why playing center is difficult to begin with but with the added complexity of having to haul ass to the perimeter and pick off a flowing LB. For Landen, it wasn’t just that he is an experienced puller though, but he’s actually a very good pulling lineman in a number of different types of “pull” blocks. On his hudl tape he showed proficiency on kick out blocks on counters, on wrap blocks through the hole on variations of power, on trap blocks, and even on skip pull. Just like pass sets require time and repetition to drill the footwork and techniques to perfection, all of the various run blocks require similar practice, and it seems like he’s further along in this area than some of his fellow ‘23 commits. blocks that are incredibly rare for HS centers to run. Honestly, between his athleticism, build, and technique, I think that Hatchett could show up and already be 90% of what Nick Harris was in the run game with tons of room to develop.
The last “bonus” trait that stands out to me for Hatchett is his multi-positional athleticism. He was an iron man athlete playing offensive and defensive line for Ferndale, and he earned himself first team all-league honors on both sides of the ball. While its common for college-caliber linemen to play both ways for smaller teams and to earn honors based purely on their athletic talents, Hatchett was no slouch on the defensive side of the ball. He racked up stats playing DT/DE (even getting himself an INT), and he did so with a tireless motor. Playing DE at 295 doesn’t get you into the backfield just on speed, so him showing off his mauling physicality on both sides of the ball just goes to show how intensely his motor runs as a football player. Outside of his motor, playing both ways, which is increasingly uncommon at the HS level, gets players an advanced crash course on the game of football itself. Often times, players who specialize in only one side of the ball only get one perspective of the game, and they don’t understand the nuances of how the opposing side will try to stop the other. This higher level of football IQ and field awareness often prepares HS players better for the complexities of the game at the next level, and that understanding is what gets players on the field sooner.
With all of that being said, Hatchett is not a perfect prospect either. Coming from a Wing-T offense, he doesn’t have a ton of reps as a pass blocker, so there will be a learning curve for him in that department. From the limited reps he did have, he looked proficient enough for it not to be a glaring concern, and playing iOL will narrow down the number of pass set techniques that he’ll have to master before competing for playing time. The biggest hurdle between him and early playing time will be getting live reps against college-level blitz packages. The mental processing speed required to play iOL, and even more so as a potential center, is challenging to comprehend, but this is a challenge for every lineman, so Hatchett is playing from an even playing field as everyone else in his class at worst.
Fit & Position
As far as positional fit, Hatchett is an iOL-only prospect in my opinion. My guess is that he’s destined to compete for the center spot down the line, but he’ll probably cross train guard depending on how competitive the iOL situation looks. Its not hard for me to see Hatchett arriving on Montlake next spring or summer as one of the more game-ready center candidates assuming that Luciano wins the center spot this year and there’s no incumbent starter at center. Myles Murao and Geirean Hatchett have both been reported as candidates to be groomed as future starters at center, but neither have as extensive live experience at center as Landen, which should keep the playing field fairly even between the three next fall outside of experience in the system. Nothing is stopping any of the three from competing for reps at the other iOL spots either, and its also been reported that Landen was reassured that he and Geirean wouldn’t be competing for the same position, so I expect Geirean to move back to guard while Murao and the younger Hatchett compete for reps at center next year.
On the scheme side of things, having a mobile battering ram like Hatchett playing center is a huge bonus on the offensive line, and it can sometimes be the key to the whole blocking scheme. As I broke down in other articles, Grubb’s preferred run schemes revolve around the inside and outside zone concepts and the counter play. All three require a big, strong, and agile center. Outside zone in particular requires a fluid athlete to successfully reach block 3-tech DTs a gap and a half over sometimes, and while Hatchett hasn’t been asked to do that too much to date, he’s certainly athletic enough to do so.
In conclusion, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Landen Hatchett earn the earliest reps of all of our 2023 offensive linemen. He’s a big and dynamic athlete with the gritty lineman mentality that you just can’t teach a guy. He brings advanced skills and technique to the position group that you don’t typically see from HS linemen, and although he’s got a long way to go in mastering pass protection, he’s not far from being serviceable enough to compete for playing time.
Let me know what you think in the comments below and on Twitter @Coach_808
P.S. Can someone with a barber shop/hair care business please get this guy a NIL deal. I mean just look at that flow...
Here…WE…Go!!!!!! BOW DOWN pic.twitter.com/y5uuClc0Dw— landen hatchett (@LandenHatchett) June 29, 2022