Houston safety John Bonney is likely to be one of the top defensive backs in the class of 2014, and has drawn interest from programs both in Texas and out.
Bonney, who measures in at 6'0 and 175 pounds, has top-notch speed - Rivals reports him as running a 4.5 40 - and as such has drawn high early rankings from various scouting sites. Rivals considers the Lamar High School (Texas) the No. 26 player in his state, while 247 ranks him the No. 15 safety in the country, with Scout a bit more pessimistic at No. 30.
Bonney has already drawn at least 15 offers, from Texas schools -- Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor, TCU, and his hometown school of Houston -- and those from around the country -- Ohio State, LSU, Oklahoma, UCLA, and Auburn are among those in the hunt. He recently attended Junior Day with the Longhorns in Austin.
Wescott Eberts, Texas recruiting analyst:
Considered a safety by the services, Bonney possesses the type of pure defensive back or cornerback skills that provide some extra value as a prospect.
Lamar uses him a lot in one-on-one coverage on the outside, so he's not a guy who spends most of his time in deep center field coming downhill to make plays or supporting cornerbacks in coverage -- he's the player in coverage.
It can be hard to tell from views that show the quarterback throwing the football, but from the results, Bonney is able to sit in the hip pocket of his receivers consistently, either doing a strong job of working in press coverage and uses his hands to re-route receivers or flipping his hips well to transition with them. Further investigation of the film reveals that he can do both.
Either way, when the ball is in the air, Bonney displays strong ball skills. He doesn't appear to come up with a great deal of interceptions -- three in 2012 -- so the hope is that as he continues to mature and improve as a player, he will turn a few more of those PBUs into INTs, because during his junior season, Bonney got his hands on a number of balls that were possible, if difficult, interceptions.
Some young defensive backs experience struggles knowing when to turn their head to find the football and some then have issues tracking it. Bonney seems to have a natural knack for when to look back and can generally find the ball quickly, then make sure that the receiver doesn't come up with the catch, probably his most elite ability based on his junior film.
In terms of playing the pure safety position, there's not a lot of evidence on film, but Bonney does flash some open-field tackling ability, even if he does get a little bit high there some times, can break down to deal with opposing ball carriers, and can deliver some hits when the opportunity is there. Bonney is not, however, a natural striker who can sink his hips and explode through opponents -- but that's not really a knock on his abilities, just to say that he's not elite in that regard.
There may be a bit of a learning curve for him in college if he's asked to take on a center-field role, though there's no question that he could find a home at field corner or nickel corner.
National Signing Day is 49 weeks away. Verbal commitments are non-binding and change frequently.
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Highlights available on Hudl.
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