Future watch is a continuing a series of stories breaking down film from the members of Pitt football’s recruiting Class of 2021 by Pittsburgh Sports Now analyst Nick Farabaugh.
Pitt received inked another Florida commitment when LB Derrevon Maxwell-Black committed to the Panthers last week. While he was a surprise commitment to most fans, the Pitt staff appeared extremely excited about adding Maxwell-Black to the class at linebacker.
What type of linebacker are the Panthers adding in Maxwell-Black?
Notes From The Tape
• Maxwell-Black has high-level athleticism for the linebacker position. When this guy sees a play and flies downhill he looks like he is shot out of a cannon. His closing speed is nothing short of phenomenal.
• His frame is just incredibly light right now. This is true for most kids coming into college programs, but Maxwell-Black has to get in the weight room and put on a good 20 pounds.
• That frame hurts him when he faces blocks. There is clearly some effort required for him to stack and shed largely due to the lack of functional strength in his frame.
• Maxwell-Black has an insanely hot motor. There were numerous plays of him running halfway across the field to make plays. That not only speaks to his sideline-to-sideline range but that motor as well.
• He is pretty slippery overall and can avoid traffic at the second level. There were numerous times on tape when he slinkies his way out of tough spots and gets a tackle.
• The guy lays the wood. There are some bone-rocking hits in this tape.
• As for technical tackling, Maxwell-Black has some room to grow. There is a bit too much nipping at the ankles. He certainly shows off technical precision of wrapping up at times, but that needs to be more consistent.
• Maxwell-Black does an overall nice job of reading his keys and flying to the football. There were numerous times he read the pulling guard and snuffed out a play just by doing that.
• There are legitimate questions about his coverage ability. Maxwell-Black changes directions well but does he has the ball skills and discipline to line up in coverage? That remains to be seen.
• Maxwell-Black lacks consistency with his hands to defeat blocks at the second level once engaged.
• He takes fantastic pursuit angles towards ball carriers. Even ball carriers with good speed and explosiveness find it hard to outpace Maxwell-Black.
Future Watch Outlook
Maxwell-Black can be a bit hard to get a read on at this stage. It is obvious to see why Pat Narduzzi and his staff wanted him on the team. Maxwell-Black’s athleticism is striking and he certainly has an advanced mental game for a player heading into his senior year of high school. It never hurts that Maxwell-Black brings the heat to the football field and builds on it with an infectious brand of physicality.
The questions will be is he consistent in coverage and maybe more importantly, can he beef up in order to take on blocks at the second level better. In the ACC, lineman are going to wash him out of plays unless he learns better technique and gets in the weight room.
All in all, it is a bit tough to say where Maxwell-Black will play just because it largely depends on his coverage ability, given the amount of coverage that is required of Pitt’s Star field-side linebacker. At this point, he may project best to the Money linebacker position, but will need to add size and strength to be a force there at the next level.