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2024 Recruiting/Portal Profile: Jalen Klemm, OL

Huff picks up an athletic and versatile transfer out of the portal

NCAA Football: Montana at Washington Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

As per tradition, I’m spending the offseason working my way through the upcoming recruiting class. However, today I’ll be taking a look at our recent portal addition to get a feel for his skills and talent, and assessing where he might fit on our roster.

Jalen Klemm (OL, 6’5” 273, Pine-Richland HS, PA/Kansas State)

UW’s latest addition, Jalen Klemm is one of our more interesting additions in the last few years. Klemm’s path to UW, and his football career in general, is fascinating. He’s the son of former NFL OL, former Oregon coach, and current Patriots coach Adrian Klemm, who is a respected offensive line coach in the NFL. Contrary to my initial assumption, Jalen is not your typical “coach’s kid” athlete. Despite his NFL OL bloodlines, Jalen only took up tackle football in HS, and he was not initially a lineman. According to his HS highlight tape (see below), Jalen started off as a 6’2”, 183lb safety and option QB during his sophomore year who later had a growth spurt heading into his junior year. Even after his growth spurt and transition to the line, he was still only on the DL until his senior year when he finally made the move to OL. Despite being relatively new to football, and even less experienced at OL, Jalen showed high upside. He was rated as a high 3-star prospect by the 247 composite ranking and earned US Army All-American recognition.

Out of HS, Klemm signed with Kansas State as the highest-rated member of their 2022 recruiting class. Despite his high upside and big frame, he was still undersized for a P5 offensive lineman, so he redshirted last year in order to continue his physical and technical development. After a number of incumbent K-State OL starters elected to return for their final year of eligibility, Jalen entered the transfer portal and ended up with UW.

This isn’t the first time that Coach Huff has brought in a non-HS offensive lineman (former center Corey Luciano joined the team after a stint in JUCO), but he is our first transfer portal addition on the OL. Underclassmen offensive linemen don’t often hit the portal, so it is quite impressive that we were able to secure Klemm’s commitment.

Prospect Analysis

As I mentioned above, Klemm is still very young at the OL position, and he’s only been somewhat focused on the position for two years now. He’s most recently been listed on K-State’s roster as 6’5” and 273lbs, which is definitely on the lighter side of what I would expect a redshirt freshman to be at after a full year in a P5 strength & conditioning program. However, it could be that Klemm was still working his way through his high school growth spurt last year at K-State, which is not surprising considering he grew 3 inches and gained 80 lbs in the last 3 or so years. It’s hard to imagine that all 80 lbs were lean mass, so his work last year could’ve been to set up a better baseline body composition for him to build on.

What is promising though is that he seemed to maintain good agility, balance, and core strength through his growth spurt. He does a good job of keeping his feet active through contact, and he has the balance and functional strength to maintain control of his blocks through the entire play. From the pass protection reps that I could find, I thought he did a good job of matching his pass set angles and depth to his opponent’s alignment. He typically used a short set to engage his opponent ASAP, but he could get away with it with his long reach. When he did utilize a deeper pass set, he looked smooth and under control the whole way through. That agility also carried into the times when he was asked to pull or release downfield on screens.

In my opinion, Klemm could make big strides once he pairs his agility and strength with more refined technique and reps. I’m not sure of his specific blocking assignments, but he tended to lock-in on the first opponent that crossed his face despite other edge pressure coming into his general vicinity. That’s pretty common for young offensive linemen, and it just takes some time for the game to slow down enough for them to keep their head on a swivel. One other area for improvement would be his pad level. There was a big difference in his run blocking between when he fired low out of his stance and when he came out high. He’s got a good first step for an offensive lineman, and he has good functional strength for his size, but he wasn’t able to get under defenders pads as much as you’d like to see. Klemm is pretty tall, and his late growth spurt may be a factor here, but general flexibility (especially in the hips and ankles) could be something for him to work on to improve that pad level.

In an unconventional way, I see shades of former UW offensive linemen Myles Murao and Victor Curne in Klemm’s style of play. Klemm has a different body type than Murao and Curne, and they had much different levels of experience at the position when they committed to UW, but they all have a certain way that they incorporate their agility and strength into the run and pass blocks that allowed them to survive on the edge at one point in their career. They aren’t the classic “dancing bear” sort of OT that patiently kick slides and awaits contact from edge rushers. Instead they use their agility and light footwork to quickly get into their opponents chest plate before speed or reach can become a factor.

Klemm should be a nice developmental player who can provide early depth on the perimeter of the OL sooner rather than later.