San Francisco 49’ers legend Jerry Rice relied on it and went on to become the NFL’s All-Time leading Wide Receiver. A below average athlete and never physically imposing, John Stockton honed his on the way to a 19 year and Hall of Fame NBA career. One of the games greatest athletes, Rickey Henderson always goes back to it when discussing what established him as MLB’s All-Time Stolen Bases leader. Technique. Eight simple letters serving as the foundation of three legendary athletic careers. Almost lost in today’s Sportscenter and Mixtape encapsulated sporting world, technique is what often separates the good from the great, and the hyper-athletic from the hyper-productive. Care to watch an otherwise elusive Running Back tracked, wrapped up, and driven back to the turf? Head out to the next Oaks Christian game and train your binoculars on #2.

There’s little doubt Oaks Christian’s Cameron Judge could get by on talent alone. Judge is 6’2 215lbs, runs a 4.5 40, and possesses the athleticism of a Defensive Back. What separates Judge from his peer and what may ultimately foster his success at the next level however, is technique. Judge wraps his arms around the legs and drives thru the body of more ball-carriers than any High school player I recall. It is form tackling at its finest and big time D1 programs took note. After registering 112 Tackles in ’11-’12, Judge held offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, Nebraska, and a dozen or so others. Citing the “overall environment” and “the direction the new staff is heading” Judge committed to the Bruins of UCLA and looks to make his final High school football season a memorable one. Oaks Christian ended ’11-’12 an impressive (11-3) and lost a 49-42 thriller to Cali powerhouse Westlake in the CIF Championship game. Over the past 8 seasons, only national power Concord De La Salle (8) has finished more seasons in the Maxpreps California Top 25 than the Lions (7) of Oaks Christian. Judge, fresh off recognition as a member of the All-SCRS 1st Team Defense, is poised to lead his team on another run at the State crown.

Judge is highly productive from his Outside Linebacker position, and I expect more of the same in ’12-’13. What I am less sure of is where, on a D1 football field, Judge will eventually find himself. At the High school level he makes use of speed, athleticism, and technique in corralling ball carriers. With the jump to D1 football, size and strength can factor heavily in a Linebackers production and, at current, Judge has work to do with each. In ’11-’12 UCLA went to battle with an undersized group of LB’s (avg 6’1 215lbs) and subsequently surrendered 5.2 Yards Per Carry, 26 Rushing TD’s, almost 2700 yards on the ground, and Bruin opponents converted a staggering 48% of 3rd Down opportunities. Asked to list the area(s) of his game he intends to raise, Judge hit the nail square on the head, “to gain some more size and strength going into the season”. To protect his long-term viability and immediately impact the Bruins LB unit Judge will need to bulk up into the 230-240lb range and increase his overall strength (currently Benches 300, target 320+). Another option, and this is pure speculation, is to consider a move to Safety. Given his speed, athleticism, and sure tackling, I do not think it a stretch to project Judge as a potential impact Safety at the next level.

The recent Nike Air Strike Tournament showcased some of SoCal’s finest High school football talent. Cameron Judge more than held his own and earned a spot among the events top defensive performers. According to Rivals.com’s Recruiting Analyst Ed Gordney “He (Judge) is fast on his feet and has the ability to change directions quickly and make a play on the ball. Judge had a big junior season and is not afraid to lay big hits on players all over the field.” More of the same this season and Judge should continue inching his way up recruit rankings (currently Rivals 3-Star and #24 OLB). If he does bulk up, without compromising speed/athleticism I project Judge as a highly productive D1 OLB gaining a starting position sometime during his sophomore and junior seasons. He should shine early on Special Teams and may see significant playing time his freshman year. If Judge is not able to bulk up, I’d love to see him take a shot at a Safety spot. He plays well in space, takes effective angles of pursuit, and is a sure tackler. Avoiding the wash and traffic of the line of scrimmage should free up Judge to maximize his speed and athleticism. Strikes me as a great fit, but that may also prove why I write about football, as opposed to coaching the game. From either position, I project Judge as a multiyear starter and potentially gaining All-Conference consideration as he concludes his collegiate career. Great pick-up by Coach Jim Mora Jr. and staff.

 
 

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