Call Christian Westerman’s commitment to Texas a very
early Christmas present for the Longhorn coaching staff. The Under Armour
All-America offensive lineman stunned the recruiting world in April when he
decided to end the process much earlier than anticipated and committed to Texas
giving the Longhorns a commitment from arguably the nation’s top high school
Standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 295 pounds, Westerman has dominated in the Arizona prep ranks on his way to being named a prep All-American, winning two straight state titles at Chandler (Ariz.) Hamilton and being given a five-star designation by ESPN Recruiting.
Westerman had just about every school in the country chasing him when he committed to the Longhorns, including Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and USC. In landing the No. 4-ranked prospect in the ESPNU 150, the Longhorns have landed a prospect with the same scouting grade as past elite offensive tackles D.J. Fluker (Alabama – 2009) and Seantrel Henderson (USC – 2010).
I’ve broken down tape from Westerman’s sophomore and junior seasons and to say that’s he’s a special prospect would be putting it lightly.
What I Liked:
Being that he’s such a highly-touted prospect there’s so much to like about Westerman’s game right now, but let’s start with the obvious. When you look at his frame and his body he looks like he could step on a college field and handle his business right now at 6-foot-5, 295 pounds. He’s a got a true tackle body and an attitude and skill set that are perfect for the position.
His feet are truly elite. Whether he’s going downhill as a run blocker or setting up as a pass blocker, he consistently creates a good base and is always chopping his feet. You see some linemen who might play over their toes or back on their heels too much in certain situation, but nine times out of ten Westerman will have perfect footwork on a given play.
In addition to generating an exceptional amount of power through his feet and legs, Westerman also understands hand placement and leverage. Most instances when he disengages from a defender on running plays are when he’s finishing a block or slipping off to go to the next level. His combination of hand placement, foot quickness, raw power and athletic ability make him dominating at the point of attack.
His athleticism is exceptional and he can do a lot in terms being able to operate in basically any scheme. His zone step is always at an angle into the defender and his base step is powerful because he’s pretty polished and because he’s got tremendous tools. He does a great job at making contact with anything that crosses his face.
Westerman’s athletic ability also allows him to be a force getting down the line and moving laterally. He’s a very good puller and has shown he can lead up in the hole and has the athletic ability to square himself up on linebackers. He’s also strong enough to kick out defensive ends on counter and sweep plays to the outside.
In pass blocking, Westerman has a tremendous punch and I haven’t seen too many instances on tape where he’s unable to stop the defender’s initial charge. He moves so well laterally and keeps such a good, powerful base that he projects very nicely as a left tackle in college because of his ability as a dominant one-on-one blocker.
His strength and aggressiveness might however still be his best tools at the end of the day. He’s a max effort player who looks to finish every block and because of his aggressiveness and athletic ability he’s a very good downfield blocker.
Westerman is no doubt one of the finest and most complete high school line prospects I’ve ever evaluated.
Areas for Improvement:
I never like to do this in my evaluations, but the bottom line is I really don’t see any areas Westerman needs to improve greatly on right now.
Even things that some linemen need to work on to adjust to college don’t really apply to the point where they are concerns. He consistently plays from a three-point stance and shows and is able to keep his head up, black flat, sink his hips and flat out drive people off of the football on a consistent basis so even pad level isn’t a major issue.
The only thing he’ll really need to do is work on the transition to left tackle, which is very likely where he’ll play at Texas. He’s got the strength and athletic ability to be able handle elite pass rushers one-on-one at the next level, he just needs to get comfortable being on an island at the next level.
Working on his pass sets and making sure his footwork is refined will be the quickest way he’ll see the field at that position. How long it takes him to learn the left tackle position is really the only thing in my mind that’s going to prolong Westerman being a dominant college player.
My Grade for Westerman: A+
In every recruiting year there are around 10 guys who (unless they experience off the field issues or something completely unforeseen) are the Vince Young/Adrian Peterson/Reggie Bush types who should be stars in college and could very well be NFL players in the near future.
Westerman fits that mold for me in a big way. I’ll go as far to say that even with guys like Jonathan Scott and Justin Blalock, Westerman is the best offensive line prospect ever recruited by Mack Brown and he’s got the chance to be one the very best in school history.
Going back to 2006 ESPN Recruiting has only had one offensive lineman ranked among the top five prospects in the country – former Alabama All-American Andre Smith was No. 4 overall that year. That’s the same spot Westerman is in now, and I think Westerman definitely has the potential to have the same type of career.