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Who's That Wildcat? DT Eric Joraskie

by Chris Johnson (@ChrisDJohnsonn)

Name: Eric Joraskie
Position: Defensive tackle
School: Mount Carmel High School (Pennsylvania)
Star rating: 3-star
Other offers: Vanderbilt, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Rutgers, Syracuse, Maryland, Kent State, Boston College

The Scouting Report:

From ESPN Recruiting Nation:

“Joraskie comes across as a tough kid who will line-up and battle for you in the trenches. He is a big D-end, but we feel he will be better suited to slide inside and play defensive tackle at the college level. He will need to add more mass, but should be able to pack onto his frame some of the needed size to play inside.”

What he’s saying:

From :

"I just absolutely loved everything about it, there's not a better place I've been," Joraskie said of Northwestern. "It has a beautiful campus, high-end academics, high-end football, has a small-town feel. Evanston is a great town and still has all the opportunities of Chicago. The people were the best part. Everything you'd want is there."

What’s the hype?

The biggest reason behind Northwestern’s improved rush defense was less a matter of individual improvement than a collective shift in the mental and physical approach with which the defensive line attacked every down. For the first time since 2008, Northwestern finished with a top-five rush defense in the Big Ten (3.77 yards per rush), just one season after ranking 10th in that same category. The origin of improvement was not hard to identify. More than Tyler Scott’s edge pressure or Brian Arnfelt’s gap-stuffing talents or Deonte Gibson’s bursts of speedy pressure, the line’s ability to hold ground in the trenches was the biggest difference.

Bridging the gap to sustain last season’s baseline will involve a bit of reshuffling along the front seven. Arnfelt, arguably the most important cog in the line last season, has graduated. Chance Carter, Sean McEvily and Will Hampton can pick up the slack, but it won’t hurt to bring on a talented and potentially game-ready freshman prospect. And that is where the hype around Joraskie transcends the standard game-tape, high school-developmental noise you commonly see around touted prospects these days. Joraskie is one of the strongest candidates to forgo his redshirt season and enter the mix at defensive tackle right away. The tackle position is equipped to survive without him; with him, it can take another step towards ensuring Arnfelt’s departure won’t have as large an effect as many are expecting.

What about this year? 

Curse my poor organizational skills – had I remembered there was a specific section to discuss Joraskie’s chances of playing this season, I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to make it so obvious already. In case the previous bit was unclear, my position is clear: of all of Northwestern’s 2013 recruits, there is a very good chance you could see Joraskie suit up this season. The biggest logical obstacle for Joraskie is a problem most high school kids run into when making the transition to the college game: size. Joraskie is listed at 6’4’’, 260 pounds. Needless to say, those dimensions are not conducive to winning grueling standoffs against mammoth Big Ten offensive linemen.

Assuming he can beef up before summer workouts, Joraskie will be in line to compete for substantial playing time at tackle. Hampton, McEvily and Carter are the three primary rotation guys as it stands, and redshirt freshmen Greg Kuhar and C.J. Robbins add depth behind them. Where I stand, Joraskie has all the physical tools and football smarts to play his way onto the depth chart, draw even or quite possibly eclipse Kuhar or Robbins and – presuming his bodily dimensions line up just right – prove he’s ready to contribute in 2013.

What about the future?

The timetable on Joraskie is something of a mystery. If he plays this year, then his future is 2013. A redshirt year will push back his eligibility clock, and that ultimately may be what Joraskie ends up doing. It is never a bad idea to urge patience and long-term development by way of short-term ineglibility; that is what redshirt seasons are for, after all. All of this is very much up in the air at this point. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered before we go into breaking down Joraskie’s first Big Ten football game. Will he be in adequate physical shape to handle the rigors of college trench play by the summertime? How will Carter, Hampton and McEvily perform without Arnfelt? Will Kuhar and Robbins render this entire discussion moot by outplaying Joraskie and assuming most if not all of the second team snaps?

The answers aren’t available, obviously, so until summer workouts allow for empirical analysis, reputation and perceived positional needs will have to do. And on both accounts, Joraskie can be a crucial piece of Northwestern’s defensive line plans not only in the future but quite possibly this season. At a time when Northwestern needs to prove it can turn its often-spotty run defense into a consistent force, the Wildcats are bringing on a highly productive player. Joraskie’s productivity at the college level will depend on a number of factors. The first is simply arriving with the natural body characteristics of a Big Ten defensive tackle. The next is living up to his recruiting hype. When he puts everything together and gets on the field, whether this year or next, Joraskie is a promising asset who should become a pivotal element of Northwestern’s defensive line play throughout his four/five years on campus.