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Hand cast didn't slow down Telfort

3/25/2008 - College Football

Frankie Telfort, 5-foot-11, 194 pounds
ESPN 150 Watch List linebacker
Gulliver Prep (Miami)

Last summer, Gulliver Prep (Miami) outside linebacker Frankie Telfort listened in dismay as the doctor informed him he could potentially miss his junior season with a dislocated thumb suffered during a preseason practice. Telfort was a well-rounded student-athlete, but football had played an integral role in his life, he was not sure he could function normally.

"Honestly, I got real depressed, it was awful. I think I only slept like four hours a night while I was hurt," Telfort recalled.

Telfort had worked extremely hard preceding his junior season; he was in the best shape of his life and had big expectations. He spent countless hours in the weight room during the day building up his smaller 190-pound frame and worked intensely on his speed and footwork in the hot Miami summer nights.

The plan was for the pin to be removed before his team's fifth game and then his hand would be re-cast with 4- 6 more weeks before a suggested return. When the fifth game came, the passionate competitor could not imagine enduring the misery of standing on the sidelines for six more games, and despite the limitation of a cast, Telfort made his return on that Friday night.

"I decided to start playing again with the cast. I couldn't take it anymore; football means so much to me," said Telfort.

Despite playing the position of linebacker with essentially just one hand and being out of top football shape, Telfort made an immediate impact on the field. Through the remaining six games he was a terror for opposing offenses, racking up 66 tackles, four forced fumbles and laying some of the hardest hits we have seen in film evaluations of the Class of 2009.

"I was really hungry when I got back to playing. The first game I was a little raw, but the second game against Marathon I made a hit on a reverse play that I really needed. As the ball carrier cutback, I just straight lit him up and my teammates went crazy.

"After that hit I was good to go. I think it got my frustrations out."

Although he played in only six games and was limited physically by the cast, his performance was impressive enough to attract the attention of major college recruiters across the country. Telfort has already amassed close to 15 scholarships, including offers from Florida, LSU, Notre Dame and USC. The rangy prospect with room to grow might be listed at less than 200 pounds on paper, but he possesses rare explosiveness and burst in space that allows him to pack the punch of 225-pound linebacker. Aside from his elite, quick-twitched athleticism in the short area, Telfort flashes great speed chasing sideline-to-sideline and is a relentless pursuer to the football. If he lands in a defense that covers him up and allows him to attack the football in space, he should develop into a special player at the next level.

At this point, he remains very much open on college and is in no rush to make a commitment. Boasting a 3.3 GPA in the classroom, Telfort did say academics would play a major role in his decision and he was extremely proud of his offer from South Bend. Considering what we saw from his limited junior film, the offers should continue to roll in and everyone -- except running backs in his district -- anxiously awaits his return at 100 percent next season.

Telfort's Scouts Inc. Evaluation
Telfort flashes attributes similar to those shown by the elite linebackers who emerged from South Florida in 2008. He lacks great size but has a rangy, tapered body and should be able to add bulk without losing much quickness. Generates great initial speed and short-area burst. Plays bigger than his measurables suggest, showing deceptive power and force at the point of attack. He's tough and has a great nose for the ball.

Has fast-twitch athleticism and gets quick jumps. Excels at attacking downhill but shows good change-of-direction quickness and fluidity sifting through traffic. Flashes good range and sideline-to-sideline speed. Pursues at proper angles and avoids trash effectively. Can anticipate the snap, and his rare closing burst and relentlessness make him an excellent blitzer. He's explosive in space and often delivers jaw-dropping hits, but he needs to become a more consistent tackler.

Sometimes struggles to wrap his head around the ball carrier and bring his hips through tackles. His lack of size is evident when he tries to tackle bigger backs or shed uncovered linemen on cutoff blocks. Appears more quick than fast. His sideline range could be tested at the next level. Telfort projects best as a weakside linebacker, a position where he can make plays in space and avoid stacking tight ends and regularly disengaging blockers. His outstanding special teams potential only enhances his upside.

Billy Tucker is a recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc. and has close to a decade of coaching experience at the college and high school level. Tucker has served as a recruiting coordinator for two nationally ranked Division II colleges. Most recently, he was the associate head coach and defensive coordinator for Merrimack College, which advanced to the Sweet 16 in the 2006 NCAA Division II playoffs.