Friday night, we were back on the virtual recruiting trail, this time scouting one of the top players in the 2023 class. Caleb Downs and the Mill Creek Hawks opened their 2020 season at home against the Dacula Falcons with a 20-14 victory. Let’s take a look at how the talented sophomore athlete performed on Friday night in the season-opening victory.
Downs had a big night for the Hawks out of his nickelback position, as he finished the night with 8 total tackles, 1.0 tackle for a loss and pass deflection. He wasted no time making his presence felt, recording three of his tackles and his only pass deflection of the game. He was just as impressive in the second half when the Falcons made a late push, adding four tackles and his tackle for loss to help seal the win.
There were a couple of plays that really stuck out in this game from the talented Downs. The first play came in the first half on a wide receiver jet sweep by Kaleb Edwards. Downs showed impressive short area quickness to close the gap and cut off the edge, making a strong tackle to hold the wide receiver to a short gain. His second big play came in the second half against Williams after his move to quarterback, which had sprung some life into the Falcons. After breaking off a couple of shifty long runs, Williams took off again to his left hoping to turn the corner for what could have been another long run. Instead, Downs came all the way down from his safety spot, closing in to make the tackle in the backfield and slow the momentum that the Falcons had been able to build to that point with Williams at quarterback.
Downs was easily one of the funnest players that I have scouted in recent memory and the pure talent that he has is frankly just exciting. He was everywhere on defense for the Hawks on Friday night, even though he wasn’t the one making the plays and his ability to cover as much space as he can in such a short period of time is just downright impressive, especially for a high school sophomore. He is a very smart player as well and combines that with a strong tackling ability to make him a menace for any run game that he faces. He wasn’t tested much in coverage on Friday night, but looked promising in the reps he did see and plays in a man-heavy scheme that would be beneficial for both sides if he was to commit to play in the system the Tar Heels currently run defensively. The Tar Heels have the benefit of Dre Bly, his uncle, on the staff and his brother, Josh, currently a wide receiver for the team, so the Tar Heels should feel good about their chances to land this extremely talented young defensive back.
Next week, we continue our scouting reports with our first scouting report of a current Tar Heel commit since Eli Sutton in our first scouting report of the season. Tar Heels' 2021 3✮ WR commit J.J. Jones will be the scoutee next week, as he kicks of his season for Myrtle Beach with a tough test against Fort Dorchester.