Husky Target Profile: Sav’ell Smalls (’20)
OLB, Kennedy Catholic High School
Sav’ell Smalls committed to the University of Washington in a ceremony at Kennedy Catholic High School in honor of him receiving his Under Armour All-American jersey this afternoon (9/27/09).
Sav’ell Smalls is a Five Star recruit and is the consensus #1 OLB prospect in the country for the 2020 class.
According to 247 Sports’ “all time” Composite ranking, Smalls is also the top Washington state prep player during the internet recruiting era, narrowly edging out former Husky Reggie Williams (WR, Lakewood, WA) and current Husky Jacob Eason (QB, Lake Stevens, WA). Smalls was also the first freshman Chris Petersen has ever presented a scholarship offer.Courtesy of 247 Sports
Smalls has 30+ verified offers from a veritable who’s who of elite FBS programs across all of the Power 5 conferences. In February Smalls narrowed his list of top schools to twelve schools (including Washington, Clemson, Alabama, and Ohio State, among others) and that Tweet remains pinned to the top of his Twitter profile. Then in early May he made the startling announcement that when he narrowed his list down to the finalists, the University of Washington would not be on that list, but Oregon and/or Washington State might be.
The sudden apparent reversal of attitude about his home town school, which was the first to offer him and had apparently been rising on his list over the previous several months was shocking and, for Husky fans, upsetting. His public explanation that he just felt more inclined to leave the region felt incomplete, especially when he went out of his way to say that both Oregon and Washington State were still under consideration. What could have happened to cause a change of heart like that?
Our understanding of events is that it was a combination of Smalls hearing a negative narrative about the UW football program that couldn’t be dismissed easily. From our vantage point it does not look like Smalls ever truly stopped considering the University of Washington nor did the UW coaches ever stop recruiting him. In fact, significant efforts were made to dispel his concerns and, from what we can tell, those efforts were at least mostly successful.
Smalls has spent the summer seeing several of the schools that have offered him, including Florida State and Tennessee, as well as visiting the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio in connection with his being invited to play in the Hall of Fame World Bowl post-season all star game. The HOF World Bowl also named him its top recruit for 2020.
While Smalls has not publicly addressed the status of his UW recruitment since May, we are convinced that the Huskies remain very much in the mix to receive his ultimate commitment.
Prospect Evaluation/Schematic Fit
Physically Smalls has the tantalizing and rare combination of natural power, quickness, and the frame to add significant weight, especially in his legs. His athleticism allows him to not only turn heads as a defensive player but also be a real offensive threat as a TE, WR, and Wildcat QB. The highlights below from following his freshman year illustrate the all-around athletic ability he possesses:
Although he would be a high end recruit on offense, defense is where he is truly an elite prospect. He already shows excellent potential as a pass rusher, an ability to be stout against the run, and the capability to cover the curl and flat zones. He is an elite OLB/EDGE prospect in any system.Dennis DeYoung says: “Sav’ell is among the best ever prep products from the state of Washington and is the most important single recruit ever, in terms of what he would mean to the UW program.”
In the Huskies’ system, he would have the ability to play either BUCK or SAM, with BUCK likely his highest ceiling spot. After a couple years of quality S&C work he ought to be able to play easily carrying 250-255 pounds on his 6’3″ frame. It isn’t an exaggeration to compare him to Brian Orakpo or Jadeveon Clowney as a prospect, though he is slightly shorter than both of them.
At the risk of cliche, Smalls’ recruitment was always going to be a long and winding road. His first offer came during the winter of his Freshman year of high school and he has received massive national attention since then.
As we highlighted above we do not believe that the University of Washington is out of the race for his commitment, not by a long shot. Staying home and playing in front of his friends and family and receiving the kind of education available to him at the UW simply remains too big a draw to be dismissed.