In this installment of The Recruiting Notebook, we meet a former TE who has grown into a blue chip OT prospect: Parkland (FL) Marjory Stoneman Douglas OT Michael McLaughlin.
When Michael McLaughlin moved from Indiana, he was a a 6’6” 240lb Tight End. And it was at Tight End that the Parkland (FL) Marjory Stoneman Douglas standout worked out when he attended his first camp post-move at the University of Miami.
After the session, however, Miami asked McLaughlin to stick around and try some drills at a different position than the one he had been playing to that point in his football career: Offensive Line.
And, after that workout, McLaughlin earned a scholarship offer. McLaughlin was asked to come back 2 weeks later for another camp at The U, but this time to work out at OL and see what he could do. And McLaughlin showed that, while he needed to develop in a couple of ways, he could work his way into being a very good OT in time.
McLaughlin, a former basketball player, made the decision to move to OT full-time starting as a HS junior. With that being his position, many teams started to reach out and give him scholarship offers. Miami was the first, and McLaughlin continued to visit the campus in Coral Gables from time to time, but McLaughlin also visited Alabama, Louisville, and West Virginia along the way.
But, from the jump when Miami was the team that suggested McLaughlin consider switching positions and extending him his first scholarship offer, the Canes were always the team to beat. And, luckily for them, no other team was able to beat them for this talented prospect, and McLaughlin committed to Miami while on an unofficial visit to the Coral Gables campus on March 2nd.
On the 247sports composite, McLaughlin is a 4-star prospect, the #26 OT nationally in this class, #55 in the State of Florida, and #169 recruit overall.
McLaughlin committed to Miami over Boston College, Florida State, and West Virginia from a list of 20 offers from around the country.
As A Player
You know that McLaughlin used to play Tight End. You know that McLaughlin used to play basketball. You know McLaughlin used to be 6’6” 240lbs. That’s all up top in this piece.
What you don’t know, and why you should be excited about him as a blue chip OT prospect, is that McLaughlin is none of those things anymore. Now, he’s grown to 6’8” and added nearly 40lbs of muscle and is up to 290lbs. That is perfect size for a HS OT, and McLaughlin has room to add more weight and strength to his frame in the future.
After changing positions, McLaughlin has stepped into a starting OT position for Stoneman Douglas and performed very well. And, Stoneman Douglas is very good at developing OL, as current Miami starting Center Corey Gaynor came from that program in recent years.
McLaughlin has prototypical height and length for an OT. He can use his long arms to get his hands on defenders early and direct them where he needs them to go to help his team’s offense operate. McLaughlin seems to enjoy run blocking greatly and can be seen making many pancake blocks on film. He’ll need to continue to do that and continue to develop in pass protection. McLaughlin’s basketball background should help with that as he’s used to being nimble on his feet and moving around the court, and that translates well to OL play.
Obviously, there is room for growth in terms of his experience and technique at OL since McLaughlin has only recently transitioned to this position. McLaughlin has experience at both LT and RT, and that versatility could come in handy as Miami works to find where he can be the best player possible.
Here’s another evaluation of McLaughlin by 247sports Southeast Recruiting Analyst Andrew Ivins:
Passes the eye test. Has the ideal length to play tackle at the next level as he’s all of his 6-foot-6 listing. A former tight end that saw his body undergo a transformation between his junior and senior seasons as he added roughly 40 pounds to his lean frame. Still learning how to protect the edge, but ability to bend is unique given long limbs. Capable of setting a sturdy base. Has limited issues getting to the second level. Will put his helmet in a defender’s facemask, but could get nastier. Also needs to improve his leverage and clean up his hand placement. Will likely need two or three years to refine technique and add functional strength before he’s ready to face a Power 5 front. Upside, however, is there as he has the makeup of a new-age tackle that’s athletic enough to handle speedy pass rushers. NFL potential.
And here’s another evaluation of McLaughlin by 247sports National Recruiting Analyst Greg Biggins:
Checks off a lot of boxes in terms of what you look for in a future NFL offensive tackle. Two-sport athlete with a basketball background and moves extremely well. Prototype tackle frame who will need a few years to bulk up and add good weight but has the frame to easily do so. Plays with a nice aggressive edge to him and finishes his blocks. Plays through whistle and shows the ability to be dominant as a run blocker but we really like his long term potential as a left tackle and should develop in to a very good pass protector. Long arms, plus athlete and rapidly improving. If he reaches his ceiling, upside is very high and projects as an impact upper tier Power 5 starter and future NFL draft pick.
- Run blocking
- Technique needs refinement
- Limited experience at OT
- Needs to add weight and strength.
Note: changing this up from just a freshman-season outlook to a career outlook for each player.
McLaughlin has already begun the biggest amount of work: changing his body from basketball player to Offensive Tackle. That takes a lot of work, and that work will continue when he gets to campus as a Hurricane.
Offensive Line is one of the toughest positions to project, because there’s so much physical and technical development players need to undergo. For McLaughlin, while he has a lot of physical and athletic traits to be successful at OT in college, the prudent path would be slow development. A redshirt year followed by another year of limited or rotation snaps to help him develop into a player who is ready for the spotlight when he moves into the starting lineup.
Like most linemen, McLaughlin will probably be a 5 year player at Miami. But those 5 years would allow him to develop at a natural pace and get the best performance for him and the team both. But, if those 5 years go the way that they could given McLaughlin’s athleticism, size, and potential, All-ACC honors and NFL draft interest are fully in the realm of possibility.
That’s it for this installment of The Recruiting Notebook.