Vidauntae "Taco" Charlton is a DE/OLB out of Pickerington (OH) Central, and last night during his unofficial visit to Ann Arbor he became the sixth player to commit to the Wolverines in one day. Charlton is one of the top defensive players in the state of Ohio for the class of 2013, and we all know how fun it is to snag elite prospects out of that particular state.
4* DE, ESPNU
150 Watch List
4*, 93, #9 OLB,
Charlton was the sixth four-star prospect to commit yesterday, and all but one recruiting service expects him to wind up as a defensive end, though he plays outside linebacker as well at Pickerington Central. All four sites agree that he stands at an impressive 6'6" and weighs between 235-245 pounds. Unless Charlton doesn't add weight at all before he gets to Michigan, I think he'll play weakside defensive end for the Wolverines.
Charlton began to see his offer list grow after being named one of the top performers at last summer's Columbus Nike camp; here's Rivals.com's Brian Perroni after that event ($):
Strengths: Charlton has the prototypical frame for a weakside rush end. He is tall and has long arms that allow him to get separation from the offensive lineman on the pass rush. He is a basketball player as well so he definitely has very good athleticism.
Weaknesses: Charlton is very raw at this point. He plays too high and allows himself to get locked up by inferior offensive linemen. He needs to concentrate a little more on football.
Conclusion: Charlton is only a sophomore in high school so he has plenty of time to mature as a player. Should he make football a priority he has all the physical tools to be one of the top defensive ends next year. Many defensive ends in the Midwest seem to be shorter 'tweeners so he will garner a lot of attention because of his length.
Charlton is a standout basketball player for Central, so the praise for his size and athleticism should come as no surprise. He is a bit of a project at this point from a technical standpoint, though he's got great potential; both sentiments are echoed by Duane Long:
I continue to be very impressed with Centrals Taco Charlton. He is such an athletic kid for his size. He actually plays linebacker for Central. I saw him in coverage several times. He has a great first step and a top drawer burst. I doubt we ever see the big numbers out of Charlton because of how he fits in the Central scheme but this is one special athlete. He needs to work on using his hands better. He showed strength, standing up blockers and holding up to double teams but he got too tied up sometimes despite stuffing the blockers. His potential is unlimited.
Again, his athleticism is his biggest strength, and it allows him great versatility in terms of his role in a defense. You don't hear about many 6'6", 240-pound high school linebackers fluidly dropping into coverage. Bucknuts recently unveiled their top prospects list for Ohio's class of 2013, and Charlton comes in at #17 ($):
He is as physically a good looking player as there is in Ohio. He passes the eyeball test. He has no fat, he’s athletic and he’s long. Now, he is still growing and he is learning the game. He is freakish at times, but may need to develop some consistency in his game. He makes some flashes at times.
I'll never complain when a recruit is described as "freakish," and given Charlton's basketball background it's not surprising that he's got some work to do to polish up his game on the football field. Charlton, to his credit, is aware that he has a good deal of room to improve on his game:
"Right now I'm real good at pass rushing," Charlton said confidently. "I can get on the quarterback fast. My run (defense) is coming along. I'm starting to do good against that, too. … Whatever I can do to get better, I'm going to do it. I'm just trying to be a great player and do the best I can."
That was from a Sam Webb profile, and Charlton said something quite similar to me last September. He's very much a high-upside player, with his physical talents providing tantalizing potential, though he's clearly got a little work to do before he's ready to see the field in college.
Charlton held offers from Cincinnati, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Pitt, Purdue, Syracuse, and UCLA. He also had interest from the home-state Buckeyes as well as LSU, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and others.
Charlton had 60 tackles, seven TFLs, seven deflected passes, and two forced fumbles as a junior while helping lead Central to an appearance in the state title game.
FAKE 40 TIME
Both Rivals and 24/7 list Charlton as running a 4.8 40-yard dash. Given his superior athleticism and the fact that the same time is listed on two sites, I'll give that just two FAKEs out of five.
Junior highlights from ScoutingOhio; it's a promo video, unfortunately, so the last couple minutes are just a photo montage:
Despite the lack of extensive film, you can see Charlton's signature athleticism, and he's clearly gaining experience playing with his hand on the ground. His initial burst upfield is quite impressive.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Charlton seems like a player who will likely need a redshirt year as a freshman, but I expect him to compete for a spot on the two-deep at weakside DE after that. There's a solid amount of depth at the position, with Frank Clark and Mario Ojemudia both slotted there for the moment, but it's distinctly possible that either Ojemudia or Charlton ends up as a strongside linebacker if both are pushing for playing time.
Charlton is athletic enough to play either position, though he could outgrow linebacker by the time he gets on campus; there's even a chance, with his 6'6" frame, that he bulks up enough to play on the strong side, though the depth is quite good there as well after the influx of defensive recruits in the 2012 class.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Nine recruits. 20-22 spots. You know the deal. A breakdown of the positions in the 2013 class: 1 QB (Morris), 1 RB (Shallman), 1 TE (Hill), 3 OL (Bosch, Dawson, Fox), 1 DE (Charlton), 1 CB (Lewis), 1 S (Thomas). Michigan's main priorities moving forward will be adding at least one more offensive lineman, a pair of playmaking wide receivers, an all-around running back to complement Shallman, depth at defensive tackle, and more generally depth across the board. With nearly half the class accounted for, the coaches have the luxury of picking their spots and going after elite prospects to fill out the class.