Land of 10 writer Tyler Donohue breaks down a Penn State recruit every week . In this edition, we evaluate offensive lineman Fredrick “Juice” Scruggs. Be sure to check out recent analysis on receivers Justin Shorter and Julian Fleming, defensive linemen Judge Culpepper, Aeneas Hawkins and PJ Mustipher, running back Ricky Slade, tight ends Pat Freiermuth and Zack Kuntz, linebacker Jesse Luketa, safety Isheem Young, edge rushers Micah Parsons and Brandon Smith, and cornerbacks Keaton Ellis and Jordan Miner.
Penn State secured a commitment from top-ranked in-state offensive lineman Fredrick Scruggs on Aug. 4. Often referred to as “Juice,” this 6-foot-3, 270-pound Cathedral Prep (Erie, Pa.) senior provides the potential for sustained dominance in collegiate trenches.
Scruggs, who also holds scholarship offers from schools such as LSU, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State, graded out as a top-5 prospect in the September edition of my 2018 Pennsylvania recruit rankings. He is a force on both sides of the ball for Cathedral Prep, a powerhouse program that enters October unbeaten.
Cathedral Prep primarily implements him at left offensive tackle and defensive end. Though his football future is found along the offensive line, his success as a defender is worth noting.
Since the start of Scruggs’ junior season, he has collected 53 tackles ― 15 for loss ― and 5 sacks, according to MaxPreps. Not all blue-chip linemen can handle extensive duties on each end of the trenches, but Scruggs displays the stamina and athleticism to excel in both roles.
It’s no surprise to find a talent of this caliber at left tackle, where you’ll typically locate the most athletic offensive lineman on a high school squad’s roster. He is a balanced blocker in this role, routinely driving opponents deep in run-blocking efforts before dumping his initial target in pursuit of a second-level defender.
Scruggs isn’t content to count on his initial punch to do the job; he utilizes initial leverage to turn a defensive lineman’s shoulder pads and motor downfield. These efforts create extensive run lanes and set a tone for the offensive front during the course of four quarters.
In pass-protection duties, his lateral mobility is immediately apparent. Scruggs covers ground smoothly and eliminates angles of attack off the edge, using an above-average wingspan to further impede upfield progress.
His kick slide and counteraction to a variety of pass-rush techniques provide evidence of a lineman who trusts in his fundamentals. Scruggs consistently maintains solid knee bend, providing him with a proper pad level and a launch pad for when he aims to eliminate an opponent by serving up a pancake, which he collects in bunches.
This blend of a strong upper body, quick feet and fluid hips creates a recruit who offers promise in a variety of roles. His lack of “bad weight” or noticeable fundamental liabilities also should expedite collegiate development, as there will be more “building up” than “breaking down” to do for the Nittany Lions staff.
Adding more mass to his physical frame will be priority No. 1. Considering the training regimen that awaits him in Happy Valley, Scruggs should continue to see his athletic skill set increase even as he starts to tip the scales at a higher playing weight.
Scruggs projects as an interior offensive lineman beyond prep competition. He exhibits the short-area quickness and brute strength, along with excellent open-field blocking traits, that should enable him to become a multiyear starter at guard or center. Scruggs, a 4-star recruit, is listed No. 3 among center prospects in 247Sports 2018 composite rankings.
He can direct traffic with a level of authority that becomes a huge asset in short-yardage rushing situations. If called upon to pull and essentially serve as a lead blocker, Scruggs appears capable of handling those assignments and paving a path for his rusher.
Perhaps most indicative of Scruggs’ potential was the widespread response I received from other members of this Penn State class upon his commitment. Jesse Luketa, a 4-star linebacker and Nittany Lions class leader, might have phrased things best.
“With the addition of Juicey to our offensive line, future defenses will have a tough time trying to get by,” Luketa said. “Juice is an extremely talented individual. What stands out the most is how well he moves in space and his feet. … We’re beyond ecstatic to have him join the family.”
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