Alex Figueroa (Stafford, VA) committed to Miami out of nowhere about 2 weeks ago, and in that time span there's been a lot of confusion from Canes fans regarding this commitment. What caliber of talent is he? What position(s) is he capable of playing? In this article I'll answer those questions break down his strengths and weaknesses as a player and prospect to give Canes fans a clearer idea of what to expect from him in the orange & green.
- Prototypical size (6'3" 220), frame and proportions for a LB or H-back
- Possesses rare explosive power on contact
- Plays with a physical edge to finish plays aggressively
- Above-average closing burst
- Above-average lateral movement skills in space
- Good footwork when making sharp cuts or breaking down before contact
- Natural hands catcher
- Straight-line speed
- Balance and core strength
- Inconsistent body control as a pass rusher and receiver
- Could improve his get-off as a pass rusher
Figueroa is an outstanding find by the Miami coaching staff, similar to Eddie Johnson (rSo) from 2 years ago. As a defensive prospect he possesses a skill that every Cane linebacker (sans Johnson) struggled with this season: taking on blocks. Figueroa has the strength, power and tenacity to shoot gaps and blow up fullbacks in the hole. He drives his legs through contact and stops ballcarriers dead in their tracks. If he can learn the defense and polish his skills he will be a major asset against the run, something Miami struggled with as the defense routinely gave up large chunks on the ground this year. Figueroa also has the requisite size and enough burst to be a competent pass rusher, but he will be limited to bullrushes unless he can improve his 1st-step quickness and body control as an edge rusher.
I wouldn't pigeonhole him as a defensive player though, because he also has the ability to play FB, H-back or tight end for Miami. Maurice Hagens (Sr) is graduating after the 2013 season and there's no true backup behind him on the depth chart. Figueroa is taller than most FBs but he uses leverage well and converts speed to power in an instant. He can square up to make powerful blocks in space without whiffing too frequently. He played some wide receiver in high school so he has better hands and route-running ability than most high school FBs. He's a bit undersized for TE but he can be flexed across formations to create matchup problems. His size, strength and ability to release cleanly off the line of scrimmage would make him a dangerous matchup 1-on-1 against smaller defenders.
Regardless of whether he ends up on offense or defense, it's clear that Figueroa will make a major impact on special teams right away. Every special teams coach's dream is to have players who hit everything in sight and show complete disregard for their body: that is Figueroa in a nutshell. I expect many highlight-reel hits from him on coverage and return teams like we saw from Gabriel Terry (So), the other loose cannon that Golden unearthed from the depths of no recruiting ranking.
5.8 4* (top 300 talent)