There is a great scene in the cinematic sports masterpiece Blue Chips where coach Pete Bell travels to the middle of nowhere to watch a hidden gem of a big man compete in some kind of weird underground basketball gym. Doing this and buying Butch McRae's mom a house were the only ways that Bell could find and eventually sign recruits. He needed to get out there and see the recruits in person or else he'd have no idea how good Neon Boudeaux was going to be as a basketball player.
Things are a little bit different these days when it comes to recruiting in college sports.
Game film is available for most recruits and a lot of times it is free to access. It's not the All-22 on NFL Game Rewind, but it's a lot better than having a simple highlight video on YouTube.
The first two games of Notre Dame wide receiver commitment Miles Boykin's senior season are up and available to watch on highschoolcube.com and I had the chance to compare how he looks now to my scouting report from his junior film. I really like what I've seen from Boykin thus far this season for Providence Catholic (Illinois) and think he has really taken his game to a new level. His five touchdowns in his second game of the season might be reason enough to think he has improved, but here's some other things that stood out to me:
His speed and quickness have really improved
I thought he projected to be a move tight end (like a Tyler Eifert) at the college level based on his junior film and a lot of that had to do with the fact that I didn't think he was fast or quick enough to play out wide. What he's shown from this season though has convinced me he is more than capable of establishing himself on the perimeter.
He's way more assertive out of his breaks in his route running and is consistently gaining separation from defensive backs. I didn't see that from him as a junior. I think he officially sold me when I saw him take a slant sixty yards to the house during his game last week. He ran through tackles then ran away from everybody on the defense. When's the last time you saw a tight end break off a play like that after a slant?
He can be a dominating blocker as a receiver
Receivers don't put defensive backs on the ground when they are blocking them. They just don't. It doesn't happen at any level. I watched Boykin do that a couple of times to some poor cornerback. He has the size and strength to make a difference at the second level in the run game. Wide receiver blocking is how eight yard runs can become eighty yard runs.
He needs to be more consistent with his effort as a blocker
Most of the time his effort is very good on run plays. But I did catch him loaf a bit on a few plays where he lazily stalk blocked and allowed his man to get in on the tackle. He's better than that and that is something that wide receiver's coach and offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock will not stand for.
Cordell Broadus is another top receiver in this class that has a Notre Dame offer and is relentless with his blocking. Boykin is bigger and stronger than Broadus and should be a better blocker than him. He is some of the time, but can be all of the time.
He is a strong runner after the catch
Boykin is not a make you miss kind of player, but he is strong enough to run through arm tackles. He's not going to be a fun player for smaller corners to tackle.
Good luck trying cover him in the red zone
I broke down Boykin before on OFD and how he can become a great asset for the Irish in the red zone. Based on how he has performed this season, I would say that post may not have been emphatic enough about how he good he can be in that area of the field.
He scored five touchdowns last week, four of them were when he was isolated on one side of the formation in the red zone. He uses his size to create space, adjusts well to the football, and is a monster on fade routes. He has been automatic and makes tough, over the shoulder catches look routine.
His hands are consistently great
Boykin always catches the ball away from his body and it allows him to make plays after the catch and make even the difficult catches look routine. It's a great feeling to have a player that can be relied on to not only get open, but bring the ball in just about every time he is targeted.
I really liked Boykin as a player when he committed to Notre Dame and I'm even more excited about his future after watching his first two games of his senior season. He's eased my concerns about his ability to separate with how dominant he has been thus far. He is off to a great start to the year statistically, but that doesn't even account for all of the times he has been able to get open on plays the quarterback hasn't looked his way.
Notre Dame has an exciting young wide receiver corps that has looked great in the first two games of the 2014 season and are only going to be better next year with a player like Boykin on the way.
(For a bit more background info on Boykin, here's a video feature from ThePostGame.com)