The film study series continues with a perhaps overlooked offensive linemen, Larry Mazyck, who rumbles into College Park coming off a terrific JUCO season in the midwest. Mazyck's buzz-factor pales compared to 5-star Damian Prince, the star of this recruiting class, and Derwin Gray, 2013's top OL target. But the giant DC native Will Likely be playing a giant role in the Terps' trenches for the next two seasons, so let's get to know him a little better.
You can see a nice compilation of Larry Mazcyk's JUCO film clips here.
The Recruit: Larry Mazyck
High School (Class of 2011): Friendship Collegiate (DC)
Prep school: Fork Union Military Academy (Va.)
College: New Mexico (Fr.) & Iowa Western CC (RS soph & soph)
Measurables: 6-foot-7, 340 pounds
247sports composite ratings: Three stars, 39th-best JuCo player, ninth-best JuCo offensive lineman
Last season: After a freshman campaign at New Mexico and a redshirt season at Iowa Western CC, Mazyck started at left tackle for the JUCO in 2013. The Reivers (had to look it up - Reivers, or "river pirates," were arsonists, kidnappers and murderers who terrorized the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and her Scottish successor, King James. Nice!) are a phenomenal program with Maryland ties thanks to former Terp OL Donnie Woods, who coaches there. After winning a national championship in 2012, Mazyck's 2013 team finished 11-1 and ranked No. 2. With Mazyck on the blind side -- in an offense with a dual-threat QB that looks on film to be pretty similar to Marylands' CJB-based read option -- the Reivers achieved tremendous balance, throwing for 3,090 yards and 28 TDs and rushing for 3,180 yards and 33 TDs. Very impressive! It means Mazyck played a vital role in a terrific offense with almost perfect 50-50 balance.
Offers: Mazyck was actually the Terps' first commitment of his high school class when he pledged back in 2010, but Maryland reportedly pulled the offer due to academic concerns, so he joined Mike Locksley at New Mexico. When Locksley got fired, Mazyck left to join Woods and Deon Long at Iowa Western, intent the whole time on finding his way back to Maryland. Mazyck, like Derwin Gray, has never professed anything but love for the Terps. You can find old recruiting stories -- even after he left for NM -- in which he specifically says all he ever wanted to do was play at Maryland. Well, congrats then, big fella, you made it! Just for the record, Mazyck also had offers last year to play at Iowa State, Kansas State and Arizona State, among others.
On film: Watching Mazyck on film was enlightening for me and it completely changed my outlook on the line next year. At Iowa Western CC, Mazyck was not only playing a much higher level of football than what I saw on film from higher-rated high school studs Damian Prince and Derwin Gray, but he was also playing in a system similar to Maryland's.
Obviously, the first thing you notice about Mazyck is that he's a giant. I often feel like size is a distraction when discussing high school OLs. Huge kids get fawned over and hyped up based on their bodies alone, but when you watch enough high school football you come to realize that the best actual linemen are smaller guys who had to learn mechanics of the position -- but they have no chance of making it in college because they just aren't big enough.
I have a coach friend who specializes in recruiting and he tells me that the bust rate for scholarship OLs is about 50 percent. That's because, after all the Damian Princes of the world join the best programs, the rest of the mid-level and smaller colleges are just recruiting big bodies and hoping they can mold them into good linemen. It's a crapshoot. Most of us can probably remember linemen from our high school football teams who got a lot of attention for being big but were nowhere near as good as the perception.
When Mazyck first committed to Maryland in 2010, he definitely fell into that "project" category. He was a converted basketball player (and a pretty good one too) who was huge and could run a little, but he wasn't strong enough and had no meaningful Division 1 OL skills yet. Because of his measurables and his athleticism, Maryland, and then New Mexico, were willing to take a chance on him anyway.
Let's now fast forward to this 2013 film from Iowa Western and, as Cutty famously said to Slim Charles, game done changed when it comes to Mazyck. He's the same giant guy he was back at FCA, but he's a football player now, through and through. Mazyck is not as fast or nimble as Prince and Gray, but how could he be? The guy's a Mack truck, not a Mustang. But he moves well enough, he's got a mean streak in him that includes a bunch of pancake blocks in this film, and most importantly, he plays within the offense and with a sense of purpose and scheme that neither Prince nor Gray (nor any OL in high school, because it's just a lower and less organized & disciplined level of football) exhibit.
Mazyck keeps his knees bent well and his gravity (relatively) low off the snap, which I'm sure is a challenge for a guy his size. He's not fast, but he's not lazy either. What I really like about him is how he finishes blocks. He knows how to use his giant frame to take his beaten defender completely out of the play, and he has a way of landing on dudes that is probably about as fun for them as having a 350-pound man fall on you sounds like it would be. Mazyck will wear guys down that way. It's sort of like body blows in boxing -- you land them in the 2nd round so that you can win the 10th.
Another thing to love about Mazyck is the leverage he gets with his arms. I'm no expert, but I would guess when you're 6-foot-7, your arms become an even bigger part of your game than they are for the shorter OLs. Mazyck uses his arms particularly well in the couple pass protection clips to keep guys away from him.
On the downside, staying in the theme of pass protection, there just isn't much footage of straight pocket protection and I'm really curious to know how Mazyck would hold up laterally against the explosive edge rushers he'll see in the B1G. I'm not saying it's a flaw, I'm saying it's a question. In run blocking, it's going to be vitally important for Mazyck to remain at pad level, which is no easy challenge for someone as tall as he is. They say the guy who keeps his pads lowest usually wins the battles at the line. Mazyck is going to have to work on that. He's not upright -- I would argue that Derwin Gray has an upright issue in his film, but Mazyck does not -- but because of his natural size he'll have to work harder at staying low in run blocking than a 6-foot-4 guy would.
Overall, Mazyck's film was a very interesting progression from Prince's and Gray's. Is he the raw specimen and athlete that those two are? Not even close. But what he shows is experience, functionality and discipline that is far beyond the high school game. JUCO obviously isn't B1G level, but it's a big jump from high school. And Iowa Western isn't just any JUCO - they're arguably the best one.
2014 outlook: I'm going out on a limb here. After watching this film, I'm installing Mazyck as the left tackle this fall rather than Prince or Gray. Whoever wins camp between those other two will be right tackle, and the other will either slide to guard or rotate in as the third tackle. Mazyck's experience, both generally as well as specific to a read-option type of offense, separates him. He's much more college-ready than Mike Madaras was at this time last year, plus Mazyck is an early enrollee who is being molded, strengthened and taught the playbook as we speak.
Longterm outlook: Because of his size and because he plays for Maryland, Mazyck will frequently be compared to Jared Gaither, another Terp giant who is now an NFL veteran. Mazyck has the size to be a stalwart two-year tackle for the Terps. If he can find his inner basketball player by improving his quickness, footwork and agility while staying huge and getting even stronger, he has the potential to follow Gaither along that path. 6-foot-7 and 340 pounds -- that's the body of an NFL tackle. For Mazyck it's all about buy-in and hard work. If he delivers on those two fronts, he'll be a memorable lineman at Maryland and beyond.
So one final time, it's M-A-Z-Y-C-K. See it, say it, and spell it right (I haven't been), because you're looking at the Terps' starting left tackle for the next two seasons. Larry Mazyck, we're thrilled you stuck with us and decided to come home. Welcome back to Maryland, big fella!