It was another busy weekend for Kansas State recruiting.
While most of us were building up our basement defenses and figuring out which spot in line a 5 year old can successfully execute in the bucket brigade, should it come to that, the Kansas State coaches were getting a verbal commitment from one of the top high school athletes in the country.
Keyon Mozee is a 5’7, 170, 3-star (83) running back out of Lee’s Summit North High School in Lee’s Summit Missouri. Mozee flipped his commitment from Miami University (the original Miami U, not the one in Florida) and was also receiving interest from North Dakota.
As always, it’s tough to get a true feel for a players talents based on their highlight film. Heck, if I could just string together a few of my best articles, people might actually think I’m a decent writer (speaking into a recorder: business idea - Hudl but for freelance sports writers).
The obvious thing that stands out with Mozee is his speed. Sometimes it’s hard to judge speed on film because you don’t know how fast anyone else is going. Luckily, Mozee has the track numbers to back up the eye test.
Here is a clip of Mozee breaking off a 10.58 100 meter dash in high school.
Boys 100 meter district champion 10.58 pic.twitter.com/rrWSlpVb0A— Keyon Mozee (@Keyon91188661) May 11, 2019
If you like 40 times more than 100 meter times, Mozee ran a verified 4.43 at the The Opening (basically a combine for high school players) St. Louis. Dude is legit fast and if you get him into the open field, it’s all over.
What I like about Mozee is he looks like a football player that runs track, not a track guy that play football. In his film, he does an excellent job of staying low, covering up the ball, and picking his way through traffic until he gets the opportunity to hit the gas and leave everyone behind.
When you play running back, it’s not about getting the ball and running as fast as you can as soon as you can. Plenty of guys can run fast (granted not as fast as Mozee) but good backs know how to run fast at the right time. Ploughing into the back of your linemen or outrunning your blocks doesn’t get you that far.
One thing Mozee will have to work on is his tendency to bounce runs outside. That works in high school (and honestly, it might work for Mozee in college because he has elite speed) but college defenders are fast as well. I like to see running backs moving down the field and chewing up ground instead of running across the field.
He’ll need to use his quickness to beat defenders in small spaces and continue moving forward instead of trying to use his speed to beat everyone to the corner. That will come with coaching and it’s always nice to have someone on the roster who can get the corner when needed. It makes the jet sweep motion deadly.
What it Means for K-State Recruiting
You can get a good idea about what a coach wants to do through the players he recruits.
It’s obvious that Coach Klieman and company are looking to inject speed and athleticism into the Wildcat attack. While Klieman is known for using a ground based attack, that doesn’t mean it has to be a plodding, 3 yards and a cloud of dust running attack. Players like Mozee and fellow diminutive class of 2020 running back recruit Deuce Vaughn bring home run potential to the offense.
When you can threaten the edges of a defense, running between the tackles gets easier.
When you can run the ball between the tackles, your speed guys have an easier time getting the edge.
The Wildcat staff is putting together a diverse stable of backs with complimentary skills to pound the inside and threaten the edge. You’re always going to have to do things a little differently on offense at Kansas State, and this running game, at least in terms of personnel, is looking a little different than most teams. I’m excited to see if (or how) it works on the field.
Why is he Ranked So Low?
The only reason Mozee is a mid/low 3-star recruit is his size.
If he put up the same athletic numbers at 5’10, 200 he would be a 4- or 5-star back because he is one of the most athletic players in the 2020 class, and that’s not hyperbole.
The best high school players in the nation participate in The Opening Regionals in hopes of making the The Opening Finals.
The Opening Regionals is a great place to get actual athletic numbers on players.
Running a 4.4 is seen as the gold standard in football speed. Subsequently, everyone claims they run a 4.4. Ask the guy in the cubicle next to you what he ran the 40 in, in high school. I’m going to guess he’s going to say 4.5 or 4.6 because he doesn’t want you to think he’s lying....and he’s totally lying. The Opening gives players a chance to actually prove how fast they run.
Mozee’s 4.46 40 is tied for the 4th fastest time in the nation this year. He’s tied with Will Shipley (a national level 4-star recruit out of North Carolina) for the fastest 40 by a running back.
To put that in perspective, Zach Evans, the top running back and overall player in the nation for 2020 ran a 4.51 at The Opening (granted he is 5’11, 200 pounds).
Straight line speed isn’t the only thing Mozee brings to the table. He’s an elite overall athlete. The 20 yard shuttle is considered the standard in agility testing and Mozee’s 3.8 is currently the fastest time in the nation.
At this point, it’s fair to say that Mozee is not only one of the fastest players in the nation, but also one of the most agile. That’s a great combination for a running back.
Mozee’s skill set isn’t just limited to speed and quickness. He packs serious power into his slight frame. His kneeling power ball toss (the distance you can throw a 6 pound ball from your knees) score of 41 is incredible.
5-star DT/DE Bryan Breese (and Clemson commit...Go Tigers!) is considered one of the best defensive line prospects in the 2020 class. He also managed a 41 in the power ball throw. Throw in Mozee’s more than respectable 37.4 in the vertical jump competition, and he tests as one of the best athletes in the nation.
In fact, The Opening has a stat for that.
Mozee’s overall athletic score of 137.19 is currently 3rd best nationally and the best for a running back.
Zach Evans is 4th in the nation with a 135.8.
Mozee is an under-scouted 3-star prospect with offer from Miami (Oh), North Dakota, and Kansas State.
Evans is a 5-star with 44 offers, including all of the blue bloods.
If you want to further validate his athleticism, compare him the following NFL running back’s Opening scores:
Keyon Mozee: 40 - 4.46 - Shuttle - 3.8 - Power Ball - 41 - Vertical - 37 - Total - 137.19
Ezekiel Elliott: 40 - 4.42 - Shuttle - 4.16 - Power Ball - 38 - Vertical - 33.6 - Total - 118.11
Saquon Barkley: 40 - 4.63 - Shuttle - 4.06 - Power Ball - 35 - Vertical - 38 - Total - 116.79
Alvin Kamara: 40 - 4.55 - Shuttle - 4.28 - Power Ball - 39 - Vertical - 39.1 - Total - 116.13
Obviously these are lofty comparisons, and to be fair, all three of the above mentioned guys are significantly bigger than Mozee, but I do think it’s interesting to put his athletic ability into context.
In terms of physical talent, Mozee has everything you look for in a running back. The only think that is depressing his recruiting value is physical stature, and Kansas State is willing to overlook that in order to put an elite level athlete on the field. In fact, it’s possible that Kansas State see his small stature as a positive rather than a negative in terms of creating mismatches across the field.
The coaching staff is taking some big swings on talent, and the 2020 class will be hit-and-miss in terms of guys actually panning out, but it’s hard to see a physical specimen like Mozee not carving out a role on the team in the future.
Mozee gives the Wildcats two small, explosive backs in this class. It will be interesting to see if the coaching staff adds a power back to class. The 2019 class had 4 recruits classified as running backs and several other recruits classified as “athletes” that could play running back.
You’re starting to build up a glut of talent in the backfield, but I don’t think the staff would hesitate to add a bigger back to this class if a player they liked were amenable to playing in Manhattan.
Now, everyone back to your buckets, it’s going to be a soggy week.