Next up in our 2023 UW Recruiting Profile series is Elishah Jackett out of California. Having an offensive line background, as well as the 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.
Right off the bat, Jackett stands out as one of the more physically imposing and athletically gifted offensive linemen that Huff’s secured a commitment from in a number of years. Standing at a legitimate 6-7 and 280 lbs, he is the biggest offensive lineman that’s committed to UW since Julius Buelow and Nate Kalepo in 2019. However, unlike Buelow and Kalepo, if it weren’t for him towering over the other players on the field, and the OL number, you might mistake someone of his build as a blocking TE. Jackett is the type of OT that probably grew up being athletic enough to play one of the “skill” positions but was just too big not to put on the line; a huge athlete rather than an athletic big guy. He carries his weight extremely well on a lean yet lanky frame that could carry an additional 30+ lbs if need be.
As far as his on-field athleticism, it’s all about pass protection upside for Jackett. For being as tall as he is, Jackett is incredibly fluid in his movements and light on his feet. On his hudl film, you rarely see him lose positional leverage in pass protection or catch him lunging while out of position/off-balance to engage a defender that’s gotten a step on him. Even when pass rushers came at him from wider angles or the defense tried to throw stunts at him, his excellent field/spatial awareness, when paired with his quick feet and long arms, allowed him to lock up pass rushers and getting into their pads while maintaining functional control with his long arms.
As I’ve mentioned on several occasions, there’s a sliding scale between reach and agility when assessing an offensive lineman’s potential on the perimeter. A big OL with long arms and slow feet might be similarly as effective in pass protection as an OL with shorter arms but quick feet. If a lineman is deemed to have enough of either trait (or a combination of the two as Jackett clearly does), then its up to the OL coach to teach them the corresponding techniques to take advantage of their abilities.
In Jackett’s case, he’s tall with long arms and quick feet but has unanswered questions about his functional strength as he moves up to the college ranks. If I were Huff, I’d get him started with some of the more positioning-oriented pass set techniques like the kick slide/vertical set. Getting started with a vertical set would give Jackett extra time and space to maintain proper positioning and leverage his length to ward off powerful bull rushers who might overwhelm him if he tried a more aggressive jump or 45-set set that gets into the DL at the snap. With a less agile OT, a vertical set might open up their inside shoulder to an edge rusher, but Jackett’s change of direction agility, I would take that chance. Huff hasn’t had his OTs utilize many vertical sets during his tenure due to most of his OTs having more powerful athletic profiles and could control a bull-rushing DE off the snap without perfect positioning, but with Jackett’s specific skill set and development track it might make sense.
Technique-wise, other than developing other pass sets to help him adjust to bigger/strong competition, Jackett could also work on his hand fighting techniques and hip/knee bend. When utilizing a 45-degree set, Jackett consistently sets up his pass sets with his hands at about waist level, and he often engages defenders with his elbows bowed out. If he can get his hands up in his stance, he’ll be able to engage defenders more powerfully and more quickly. Once he engages defenders, if he can get his elbows tucked in a tad and hips/knees bent, he’ll be in a better position to both protect his chest and engage his lower body to better anchor against bull rushers.
In the run game, the same size/athleticism traits that make him a tantalizing pass protection prospect have their own set of pros and cons. In Grubb’s outside zone and counter schemes, Jackett’s athleticism will be a huge advantage. On his Week 1-3 hudl clip, Jackett was featured as a pulling blocker (a common requirement for Huff OL prospects) on QB wrap plays (a version of one back power), and on a couple of other plays he was tasked with reach blocking a 5-tech DE on rollout passes. In each situation, he showed off that he’s a multi-dimensional athlete in space and could be a weapon at the next level.
However, there are still things that Jackett will need to work on to be a well-rounded contributor in the run game. Like in pass protection, Jackett’s more of a positioning-oriented blocker that doesn’t have the short area explosiveness or power that more stoutly-built offensive linemen have. When at the point of attack, Jackett isn’t likely to overpower the DL in 1v1 situations, and similar to his pass pro technique, he needs to work on his hip/knee bend to better engage his lower body and improve his pad level (something that was already going to be a challenge for someone that’s 6-7). One other thing I’d like to see him work on is his use of his arms and legs in run blocking. Jackett tends to let his feet stop when he can’t overpower a defender, and once his feet stop, he tries to use his upper body strength to throw the defender with his long arms. Unlike pass protection, you typically want to stay tight to a defender while run blocking to better maintain control of them while trying to drive up and through their pads. I’d be concerned with Jackett getting called for a bunch of holding penalties if he doesn’t dial in this aspect of his run blocking technique.
Fit & Position
As far as fit and position on our OL, I would view Jackett as an OT-only prospect at this point. While there have been a bunch of tall linemen who have started for us at iOL spots (Kirkland, Bainivalu, and Buelow to name a few), Jackett doesn’t come in with the same sort of strength and power that they could use to compensate for their lack of natural leverage. Fortunately for Huff, he’s stocked the OL room with a large number of inside/outside and iOL bodies over the last couple of years, so he’ll have some flexibility to build out his line ups while keeping guy like Jackett focused on one position while also not needing him to start before he’s ready.
Elishah Jackett is definitely a guy that I’m excited to see Huff develop over the next few years, largely because I think he has the tools to make an impact relatively early and the potential to play at an elite level. You can’t teach size and athleticism, and after going through a couple different OL recruiting strategies, I think Huff’s finally dialed in on the right mix of high-ceiling athleticism and size to take our OL talent to the next level.
Let me know what you think in the comments below and on Twitter @Coach_808
I said I was going to wait to post until my bday… But I couldn’t hold this in anymore, i’m so passionate about this one right here because we are going to build a future together winning championships on Montlake with that being said I want to announce i’m a DAWG! @UW_Football pic.twitter.com/LZxoEKQ6GH— Elishah Jackett (@elishah_jackett) June 26, 2022