Chris Johnson
By (@ChrisDJohnsonn)
Apr 3, 2013

Name: Sam Coverdale
Position: Offensive Tackle
High School: Kenston High School (Ohio)
Other offers: Cincinnati, Arizona State, West Virginia, NC State, Louisville, Virginia, Pittsburgh, Boston College, among others.

The Scouting Report

From ESPN Recruiting Nation:

“Coverdale plays with the tough, nasty attitude which allows him to dominate as a run blocker; demonstrates strong hands and upper body playing strength needs to improve his initial quickness and explosion. Has the size and athleticism for the offensive tackle position at the major level of competition; it appears his frame will support additional body mass over time however care should be taken to improve his foot quickness and agility.”

What he’s saying

From Rivals.com:

“It’s great football, in the Big Ten, and they have Ivy League, or close to Ivy League, academics,” said Coverdale.

What’s the Hype?

Over the past few years, Northwestern has made offensive line talent a major priority in recruiting, and in 2013, that focus should bear out on the field, where sophomore Shane Mertz and redshirt freshman Eric Olson (along with junior Paul Jorgensen, the current frontrunner for the job) will compete for the starting right tackle spot, and interior linemen Ian Park, Adam DePietro, Geoff Mogus and Matt Frazier will vie for playing time at the guard positions. The foundation for a talented and deep pool of offensive line is already in place, and Coverdale – a 6’6’’, 265-pound tackle ranked No. 50 overall at his position by Scout.com – is another name to add to the mix.

Everything you read about Coverdale leaves the impression of a gritty, hard-nosed, physical blocker – the type of player whose attitude, or “mean streak”, amplifies his physical capabilities. His size is right about where any Big Ten tackle should be, and his list of offers (West Virginia, Louisville, NC State, Virginia, among others) speaks to how coveted a player with Coverdale’s combination of natural physical advantages and dispositional traits can be. He is exactly the kind of player Northwestern has been targeting in bolstering its reserve of young offensive line talent.

What about next year? 

The problem with having so many good offensive linemen, most of them still freshmen, redshirt freshmen or sophomores, is the scarcity of playing time to be divided among them. There will inevitably be a few linemen whose talents are not applied in game situations, at least not early on, and Coverdale would find it hard to crack the tackle rotation as anything more than a third-string backup this season. Which is why it makes so much sense for the Chagrin Falls, Ohio, native to take a redshirt season.

Offensive linemen typically require a year to develop before joining the first team anyway, and given the glut of young line talent ready to compete for playing time this season, it will benefit Coverdale to use 2013 as a valuable learning and maturation experience. Through weight training and film study, Coverdale can heighten his already impressive skill set and physical tools into something coach Pat Fitzgerald and his staff won’t be able to brush aside once he joins the first team ranks a year from now.

What about the future?

Like his talented young teammates, Coverdale has the chance to be a part of something special. Northwestern’s offensive line is coalescing into one of the more formidable groups of Fitzgerald’s tenure, and Coverdale’s presence is another body to add to the Wildcats’ deepening crop of tackles. Mertz and Olson will both see the field this season, even if neither wins the starting tackle job, and more playing time should open up after Coverdale’s (assumed) redshirt season.

A year of learning and weight training will only help Coverdale’s chances of becoming a rotation mainstay in the long run. He will have plenty of competition to beat out, so next season will be crucial in the larger scheme of Coverdale’s college career. When you boil it all down, and glance up and down the depth chart, there is no reason Coverdale can’t seize one of the two starting tackle spots. When he reaches that point is anybody’s best guess. I do know one thing: it won’t be next season.

© 2013 Inside Northwestern