Dawg Sports, SB Nation's excellent Georgia Bulldogs site, is running a "TMI" series on each recruit. This week in TMI is Faton Bauta. I am not exaggerating when I say that Dawg Sports offers the best free Georgia Bulldogs recruiting coverage anywhere.
Here's just a taste of what Dawg Sports is offering on Bauta (no, this isn't even the full post):
As you could guess from that power-packed offer list, Bauta is not the kind of guy who single-handedly lifts a recruiting class. Rivals rates him a 3 star prospect, the #10 dual-threat quarterback in America, and the 65th best prospect in the state of Florida. Scout also pegs him a 3 star prospect and the #47 quarterback recruit in the land. Part of the reason Faton hasn't really gotten a lot of attention is that he hasn't been in a position for recruiting analysts and coaches to find him until recently. He transferred to Sunshine State powerhouse Dwyer from New York, where he was an all-state linebacker selection as a junior, albeit against much weaker competition. Bauta finished his senior season throwing for 1432 yards and 17 touchdowns versus 5 interceptions, and rushed 159 times for 779 yards and 8 touchdowns. Those aren't particularly gaudy numbers, especially on a team sporting a 12-2 record. Dwyer's season ended last week in a wild game which included a tremendous performance by Faton Bauta, who rushed 24 times for over 160 yards on the night.
Bauta made clear to the schools recruiting him that he was willing to consider playing other positions, but that he really wanted a shot at quarterback. The fact that he has now committed to the University of Georgia means, I think, that Mark Richt and Mike Bobo convinced him that he will get a chance to play quarterback. Again, relationships.
There has been some sort of foolishness going around about Bauta being "the next Tim Tebow." This is hogwash, for a couple of reasons. For one, I think Bauta has better touch with the football now than Tim Tebow did at as a senior in high school, though he doesn't have the same arm strength. But more importantly, one must remember that Tim Tebow would not have been Tim Tebow had he played for Pete Carroll, Mark Richt, Bob Stoops, or any number of other very successful coaches who do not run a system conducive to his talents. Tim Tebow the football player resulted from the fortuitous combination of a talented player playing in a system which used his talents to their absolute maximum effect. Expecting anything like that from any other high school football player is just not reasonable.
To the tape. First Bauta's junior highlights, from Poly Prep Country Day School in New York:
If I'm being critical, Bauta's throwing motion is a little loopy and way too long. It's going to be a challenge for him to get the ball out quicker, a challenge that's not optional at the collegiate level. While his footwork is pretty good, he does carry the ball a bit low in his drop back, and launches off his back foot several times in these highlights. In short, Bauta's quarterback fundamentals are just not where they need to be. This is not terribly worrisome because, whatever faults Bulldog fans may believe he has as a playcaller, Mike Bobo teaches the fundamentals of the quarterback position about as well as anyone at any level. I don't think that Bauta is ever going to be Matt Stafford or Matt Barkley, polished pro-style passers with excellent mechanics.
But he can be something different, a dual threat quarterback who is actually a duel threat, rather than just a runner who takes the snap. Bauta shows real flashes running the ball in these highlights. He doesn't have the wheels of a pre-knee injury Robert Griffin, III, or young Michael Vick. He's fairly quick, fairly elusive, but he's not running any sub 4.4. forties. At 6'3, 225 pounds he doesn't have to. He's a load to bring down, and though some of those holes were big enough for my grandmother to gain 5 yards, you have to respect Bauta's instincts as a runner. He sees openings and gets the heck through them. That's an important skill.
For what it's worth, Mike Bobo has occasionally run some read option plays out of the shotgun at Georgia. Matt Stafford took one for a long touchdown against Georgia Tech, as a matter of fact. But I don't anticipate that he's going to go to some sort of spread option attack to make use of Bauta's talents. In the end, I anticipate that the Dwyer quarterback spends some time buried on the depth chart at QB before eventually moving to another position, perhaps linebacker. It wouldn't be unreasonable to imagine Bauta getting to the size of a Jarvis Jones (6'3, 240-245) and playing either inside or outside linebacker in the 3-4. He could also do some damage as a fullback/H-Back assuming his blocking and receiving skills fit the bill.
One intangible that doesn't show up on the recruiting site profiles is that Bauta is actually the youngest of five brothers. All of his older brothers have played Division I football. That's a built-in support system of mentors who have been there and know what it takes to play college football. I'm also assuming that as the youngest in that crowd (and assuming his older brothers are anything like mine), Faton Bauta was probably tougher by age 14 than many black bears and most coyotes. Also, I anticipate that Verne Lundquist will pronounce his name at least 5 different ways before halftime of his first action on a CBS broadcast, which is something to look forward to ("Fashion Buddha on the tackle! How! Do! You! Do !?!").
Recruiting is an inexact science, and I don't exactly agree with Dawg Sports' take on Bauta. But that makes recruiting fun, as there is room for many different opinions.
Having seen Bauta play last weekend, I believe his timetable for becoming a college quarterback is longer than Dawg Sports does. In the first half, Bauta had the chance to put Dwyer up big. But time after time, he was wild on his intermediate and deep throws. So wild, in fact, that his receivers had no shot of grazing the ball with their outstretched hands.
But as an athlete, Bauta is impressive. He has an impressive build capable of holding 20, 25, maybe even 30 more pounds. He has surprising quickness and plays with great effort, refusing to go down and often doling out the punishment.
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