Safety, 2019 Commit
The Kraken: Low 4-Stars
Rivals: Low 3-Stars, 247: High 3-Stars, ESPN: High 3-Stars
Recruited by N/A
1/30/19 – I’m checking back in on early enrollee safety commit, Landen Zanders. First off, look out Trevor Lawrence. Your hair has been served. My professional analysis is that Zanders has a mane that rivals Troy Polamalu in length and density.
I agree with everything I wrote below with these adjustments. His hands and catch radius have gotten even better than they were last year. Are we sure he’s not a slot WR? These aren’t the kind of ball skills you associate with a safety, but you always want the opposing to QB to face repercussions for challenging you downfield. If he’s in position, there is no doubt that he gives us that. His backpedal has also improved from where it was last year, and in fact, he shows some proficiency there now.
His initial read is often wrong. It looks like he’s doing some guessing of where to take his first step and I think that habit can be corrected. Every step counts on the next level.
All of the sudden, I really like this guy. This is a guy with a wealth of football skills and is a great get. He has more natural talent than the guys we have in the 2-deep now, although, each of those guys has attributes Zannders doesn’t have as well as more experience. I think he can play either safety spot as well as 5WR if they wanted. I’m bumping him up from a 3-Star to a Low 4-Star, which is a huge jump and a compliment to his improvement. He still has to develop more technically and fundamentally, but he’s got a year to do so before we’ll need him.
6/3/18 – Landen Zanders is a safety prospect that committed to Clemson about 2 months after being offered in February. Zanders reportedly had a growth spurt between his sophomore and junior season that landed him on bigger school’s radar. Clemson snuck in and offered first, perhaps because his HS is the same school that Justin Foster attended.
Zanders plays SS and WR for Crest HS. He plays a tweener safety position where he’s over the top, but not back on the hash. A great athlete or a player with great instincts can get away with that in high school, but in college, that is how you get burnt over the middle in base defense.
He has excellent acceleration (there goes that theme again and it has clearly been a major priority over the past few years) and a great vertical leap, however, Zanders’ top end speed is just ok. He uses the great acceleration to get back there and block punts and FGs, and I think he could fill that same role with us. Zanders moves well laterally in tight spaces and he has a good stop-start move with the ball in his hands.
Fundamentally, his backpedal is atrocious and he looks like he has not been coached up on technique much. Either that, or he just does what he wants. He needs to improve a good bit there. Right now, he’s looking to come up and make a hit or turn and run. This is basically playing run-first from deep safety and that will get you burnt in college. So he’s a loose cannon, but often, loose cannons have better natural instincts.
Zanders is listed at 6’1″ and I think that’s about right. He has long arms which doesn’t hurt either and may be a sign that he’s still growing. 189 pounds is probably generous but not by more than 10 pounds.
Zanders has excellent hand-eye coordination and a great catch radius for a safety because of the long arms. This helps add to his already solid range. On film, he shows the ability to make leaping and diving catches on poorly thrown balls downfield. I have to point out that he is beaten on a lot of these, but the HS QB can’t get the ball to the WR in stride. Zanders also plays WR, so you can see that he does adjust to the ball very well and has good body control. He makes a lot of over the shoulder catches that require a lot of concentration and holds onto the ball when hit.
Zanders can be a thumper or a sure tackler when appropriate. He will run the alley hard and deliver the pain when he gets there. He’s good at dropping the shoulder and running through blocks on the outside which is kind of a lost art these days. He understands leverage and how to shed blocks on the edge.
What we have here is a football player with great acceleration. Right now, his skills translate more to Sam or WR in our system than they do Safety, which depending on how you look at it, could be a positive or a negative as he transitions to safety. He’s kind of a slower version of Dorian O’Daniel or a lengthier version of Robert Smith. I think he’s between a Low-3 Star and a solid 3-star recruit at this time and I look forward to catching up with him after his senior season.