James Lockhart is one of the best defensive ends in the class of 2015, and he will bring a versatile skill set to a college defensive line.
Lockhart, out of Ennis (Texas) High School, stands 6'3 and weighs in at 245 pounds. As of February 2014, he's a consensus four-star prospect by the four major recruiting services. The 247Sports Composite ranks him as the No. 80 player in the nation, the No. 6 strong side defensive end and the No. 12 player from the state of Texas.
Lockhart is drawing interest from a number of top programs. He's received scholarship offers from top programs in his region, such as Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech and TCU. And from elsewhere in the country, he's been offered by Ohio State, Iowa, Mississippi State, Notre Dame and Oregon State.
Fans can follow Lockhart on Twitter at @James_Lockhart9.
Projected as a strong side defensive end in college, Lockhart has college-ready size entering the spring of his junior season, with plenty of room for growth left with his frame.
At 6'3, Lockhart doesn't elite height or wingspan, so developing a long-arm pass-rushing move may not be in his near future.
However, he does show some understanding of how to use his hands as a pass rusher to help him turn the corner against offensive tackle, critical because he doesn't have an elite first step. Since opponents have trouble getting their hands on him to control him in pass protection, Lockhart does a nice job of pressuring quarterbacks in high school and flashes a bullrush that could become his best move to get to the quarterback in college.
Against the run, leaving him unblocked on the back side is a strategy that some teams tried to employ against him in 2013, but it wasn't enough to keep him from stopping plays behind the line of scrimmage, as the pursuit ability of Lockhart is one of his strengths and perhaps even his best attribute.
His physical strength helps him control and shed blockers when schemes do attempt to account him. Against the run in general it's clear that Lockhart plays with a great deal of intensity on a consistent basis and he has the base to hold up at the point of attack in college, which will decrease pressure on him to become an outstanding pass rusher because continuing to stop the run at a high level is the baseline projection for the Ennis star.
If Lockhart can continue to hone his speed rush, use his bullrush effectively, and continue his same effort level against the run, he has a chance to become an all-conference player in college. Even if he doesn't accomplish the two former tasks, his motor and run-stopping skills will make him a valuable and longtime contributor at the school of his choosing.