If you follow recruiting at all, you've probably heard about linebacker Fotu Leiato. Heck, if you don't follow recruiting you may have even heard of him.
His highlight tape went viral because of the Madden hit-stick plays that were featured throughout it and it was one of the reasons he went from a bit of an unknown prospect for many, to being a hot recruit with offers from schools like Oklahoma, Michigan State, and Oregon. Ultimately, he ended up choosing the Ducks yesterday.
I think the question on most people's mind is if he is the kind of player who can make an impact for the Ducks? Or is he just a player who knows how to deliver a bit hit?
Fotu Leiato - 3 star linebacker
It doesn't take long to realize that Leiato is worth the scholarship for his special teams play by itself. I'm not talking about just the devastating blocks either. His effort and intensity is awesome. He'll be on the field from day one and has the potential to make game changing plays on just about every special team. He returns kicks for high school team as well, but when compared with the kind of talent they already have to do that at Oregon, it would be surprising if he was in that role for the Ducks.
On defense, it's not just the long hair that reminds me of Troy Polamalu. It's the fact that he looks like he is almost freestyling out there. His timing as a blitzer is outstanding and he does an great job of getting skinny to work through creases in the line and knife into the backfield. It's where his speed and acceleration really stand out. When he arrives, he's also a very good tackler that will wrap up and hit through as well. He's not always looking to throw a shoulder into someone to get the knockout blow.
He's not a read and react player. His strength is attacking. That's why I'm not sure if he can play inside linebacker in the Pac-12. Even though he is a player who could play sideline to sideline, he may get eaten up by big interior offensive lineman if forced to take them on at the point of attack. Even though he plays bigger than his size, he's just not big enough to be able to do what would likely be asked of him on a consistent basis. I'm also not sure if he has the frame to add a lot more weight as well.
It's a big reason why I think his future is at strong safety. He's not someone who was asked to cover a whole lot, but he's got the kind of speed to play the position and it would give him more freedom to be used as a blitzer from multiple looks.
Even if you throw out the massive hits he delivered, I loved Leiato's film and the effort he displayed. It's obvious that he can be more than just a player who delivers a big hit.