As the activities of A-Day concluded, a lone news story was mostly lost in the shuffle of analyses of the game. Three-star tight end Brendan Scales from Missouri had only just received a scholarship offer earlier in the week, and decided to visit just to check things out. By the time the day ended, he was sold.
"Meeting Coach Saban in his office was probably the most intimidating and exciting moment of my life," Scales admitted. "Coach Saban was very sincere about what he wanted to do with me. He explained what everyone says about them and prospects not ever seeing the field because they get the best of the best. His response is why wouldn't someone want to be the best of the best and that hit home to me."
"They're taking two tight ends in my class," he continued. "They believe that they don't currently have anyone that can do what I do."
At 6'4" 225, Scales is built from a slightly different mold than any tight end currently on the roster. He is a versatile player, as he lines up at receiver, tight end, fullback, defensive end, and even as a wildcat quarterback.
As a pass catcher, Scales shows tremendous ability to track the ball in the air and use his body against defenders to consistently win jump balls. He has a very smooth catching technique, and can easily pluck the ball out of the air from anywhere within his massive catch radius. His team uses him extensively on fades in the red zone, and he excels at scoring touchdowns. However, he is almost never asked to run routes other than fades and deep seams.
Scales shows a willingness and effort when blocking, and is fairly adept at it despite his smaller size. He also plays defensive end for his high school, so he is no stranger to the war at the line of scrimmage.
Perhaps Scales' most impressive trait is his after-the-catch ability. He is deceptively elusive, and defenders struggle to make direct contact with him. When they do, Scales is strong enough to keep fighting through arm tackles and always falls forward at the end of a run. Though he's not extremely fast, he shows a natural feel for angles and following his blockers, which makes him a dangerous player on tight end screens. His team often utilized him in a wildcat quarterback role, where he added three rushing touchdowns and a passing touchdown last season. As a ball carrier, Scales strongly reminds me of former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.
The 33rd ranked tight end will come in next year to a position that is really lacking in depth. As mentioned above, Saban expects to add another tight end with Scales in this upcoming class, and both of these guys will get an early chance to compete for a contributing position on the roster. With his versatility, Scales will likely get looks as both an in-line tight end and also as more of an H-back type position.