Heel Tough Blog: 2018 Scouting Reports- Mario Love Jr. and Evan Pryor

Mario Love Jr. (8)/Rivals.com
Evan Pryor (21)/Don Callahan- Inside Carolina

Friday night, the Heel Tough Blog was on the road for the second time this week, as I traveled up to Cornelius, NC to scout two of the youngest players of this year’s docket. Although neither player played the entire game, both gave us enough to get an initial understanding of what they can bring to the table.

Let’s start with the player that was the original scouting target heading into the night, 2021 CB Mario Love Jr.. With just how loaded the defensive backfield is at Hough (all six defensive backs that played ahead of Love Jr. will be headed to FBS program next year), Love Jr. was only on the field for 20 defensive snaps, but he was able to provide a little insight into what type of corner he could be down the line. Hough is an almost exclusive man coverage defense and Love Jr. showed that he has the speed and technique to handle being a man coverage corner. The concern is that Love Jr. committed three penalties, two of which came in coverage. He also had some issues disengaging from blocks on the outside to make tackles in run defense. Love Jr. is young, however, and still has a ton of time to grow. His strong man coverage ability alone should have people feeling confident about his ability to grow as his high school career goes on.

The second scoutee on Friday night was fellow 2021 Tar Heel target, Evan Pryor. The sophomore running back was splitting carries on Friday night, but was still able to touch the football seventeen times on offense. Pryor wasn’t able to break a run for more than 17 yards, but he was able to put one attribute on display. Pryor’s acceleration is eye opening, as when he hits the hole he able to turn a five yard gain into ten in the blink of an eye. Something else that really stood out on Friday night for Pryor was his ability to pass protection. Pryor’s pass protection technique is very good, especially for someone at his size (5’11, 175 lbs.). The one thing that I would like to see from Pryor is a little more elusiveness. Because of his smaller stature, Pryor needs to be able to elude tackler because doesn’t have the size to run defenders over. Overall, though, I liked what I saw from Pryor on Friday night and think he’s one to keep an eye going forward at a position the Heels have historically recruited very well.

As expected, Love Jr. and Pryor were not the only talented players on the field on Friday night. Two Group of Five quarterbacks went head to head, as Temple-bound Hough senior Kennique Bonner-Steward and Marshall-bound North Mecklenburg senior Aaron Scott both had solid nights. Wake Forest commit Nolan Groulx has some of the most reliable hands that I’ve seen and the Deacons are getting an underrated wide receiver. He wasn’t the only wide receiver to have a big night, as Miami (OH) commit Austin Robinson caught five passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns and uncommitted Elijah Johnson, who started the night at quarterback and threw for 85 yards and touchdown before catching five passes for 56 yards later on in the night. Hough junior running back Kwesi Kyei-Fordjour had a solid night, rushing for 79 yards on 12 carries with his hard nosed running style that counters Pryor. Defensively for Hough, NC State commit Jalen Frazier had a solid night, but junior linebacker Storm Monroe was the defensive player of the game, as he finished with 11 tackles and was everywhere on Friday night. Other players that stood out for North Mecklenburg included running back Fabian Duncan and his physical running style, speedy receiver Justin Olson who got the scoring started and hard-hitting cornerback Will Watts who had a few huge hits.

Next Week: 2019 WR Khafre Brown