Profile: Kaleel Gaines
Location: Frostproof (Fla.)
Recruiting: Gaines committed to Michigan State earlier this week. He also had scholarship offers from teams like Auburn, Alabama, Florida, FSU, Miami, Nebraska, Penn State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Tennessee and others.What to like: There’s a lot to like about Gaines. This is a versatile athlete that lines up all over the field for his high school team on both sides of the ball. Offensively, he played running back, wide receiver and as a wildcat quarterback. Defensively, Gaines is a safety.
Gaines has very good speed and he’s athletic. He can line up in the slot and run a speed sweep on one play. On the next he could be running the zone read from the quarterback position.
Gaines is a playmaker who is best in space or once he gets to the second level. He can break tackles, shows good balance and has the ability to stay on his feet after initial contact.
Defensively, Gaines is a hard hitting safety that shows range and a nice pop on contact. He can play near the line of scrimmage and locate the ball. Gaines can deliver a blow and does a nice job of making plays in space. Against the pass he has the range and instincts to play in coverage.
What may be of concern: What position is he – safety or wide receiver? He needs to eventually commit to one and then go learn how to play it at the next level. I don’t look at this as a negative but rather a positive simply because I love a versatile prospect, especially one that can play a number of positions on either side of the ball. Gaines will also need to bulk up and add weight. With his physical maturity Gaines may even get faster.
Overall analysis: This is a nice pickup for Michigan State. The Spartans are getting an athlete with speed who could eventually line up in the slot, safety (either free or strong) or perhaps even cornerback. They will just need to figure out where he helps out best long term.
Frostproof is also a nice place to land players. Typically, they have turned into very good and productive at the next level and beyond like a Travis Henry and Nickel Robey.
Finally, this should only help Michigan State with his younger brother, Xavier, who happens to be one of the top quarterback prospects in the next class.