This is the fourth in our "Impact Player" series, taking a closer look at some of the state's top returning players as we draw closer to the MIAA football season. To see all of our Impact Players, CLICK HERE.
Off the field, you'll recognize him by his high, Kid 'N Play-like flat top haircut. On the field, you'll recognize him by the loud pop of his violent collisions.
Leominster High safety Jarell Addo is the latest high-profile export from one of Massachusetts' proudest and most storied football programs, arguably the Plastic City's most promising talent since Jonathan Hernandez was setting Blue Devil rushing records a half-decade ago. And it's all come in a relatively short amount of for the lanky 6-foot-2 safety, whose first full varsity season came last fall.
Addo's hype began to build this past spring, when he registered nearly a 42-inch vertical at a combine, then received an offer from UMass. He committed to UMass late last month, reinforcing a decades-long pipeline that goes back to current Blue Devils coach Dave Palazzi, himself a legendary gunslinger for both the Minutemen and Leominster back in the 1980's.
The Blue Devils are one of several favorites in the newly-aligned Division 2 of the MIAA State Championship, and Addo figures to be an integral piece of the equation. Now that he's gotten his feet wet, Addo will need a big senior season if Leominster is to make it a three-peat.
Player: Jarell Addo
Hometown: Leominster, Mass.
Position: Safety/tight end/wide receiver
Listed Height/Weight: 6-foot-2, 190 pounds
Scouts Inc. Rank: 9 - Mass.; 213 - Region; 119 - Position
Key 2012 Stat: As a flex tight end, averaged 16.4 yards per catch with five touchdowns.
Workout Stat: At Nike SPARQ combine last April, in New York, recorded a 41.8-inch vertical leap.
Highlight Film: HUDL
Opposing Coaches: "He really flies around, and it didn’t seem like he ended up in the wrong spot too often. He's definitely a hitter, pretty fast, makes good reads. I want to say the second time we played him, he was in the box a lot, and that caused a lot of problems for us. He's one of those players that can play the back end and defend passes, yet still come up in the box and really have a presence. ... It seemed like he had a nose for where to be. I think he has a good understanding of angles, coming up in pursuit. Definitely one of the harder hitters that we see, and I think part of that is they have a scheme that really fits what he can do. He's not asked to just sit back there and play pass all game, he's really flying around. ... I would say he's definitely above average [in run support]. A lot of guys we see in the secondary don't want to stick their nose in there, and he wants to. He's not one to shy away from contact from blockers, he wants to get in there and get after it. If there's a big pile, he wants to push it instead of sitting back there and watching it."
Scouts Inc.: "Has very good height but will need to fill out his frame. Does play with good strength, which is evident in his ability to be a productive tackler. Speed is just adequate. He's is more effective in the short area with initial burst but lacks top-end speed. ... Smart and disciplined. Displays good awareness and does not get caught out of position much on misdirection plays. Maintains strong positioning in zone coverage. Angles are generally consistent to get to the football. ... At his best in zone coverage with the ability to break forward on the ball to undercut route or arrive with the ball. Shows the ability to get off the hash and read the quarterback's eyes to get an early break on the ball. Does show some stiffness to open. Has to gather some in transition which hinders his ability to be explosive out of his pedal. ... Very physical and will fill the alley with good aggressiveness. Shows good body control to break down in space and drive through ball carrier. Will generate short area power to deliver a solid hit when given the angle. Takes good angles in pursuit. Closing burst is just adequate but instincts allow him to get a good read and react."
Bottom Line: Watching Addo play, one thing is made immediately clear: Once he has picked a running lane, there is no change of direction, and there is no last-second wincing. He wants to run straight into you. That seems to fit right in with the attitude of the Blue Devils, who have quickly ascended back to the top of the Central Mass. food chain under Palazzi. The presence of the versatile Neil O'Connor gave Addo plenty of flexibility to fly aggressively downhill, and with both back in the fold they should make one of the state's most feared secondaries. The Blue Devil coaches have also toyed with him at outside linebacker in the past, so don't be surprised if that's the case again this fall. Overall, Addo is a very raw talent with plenty of polishing to be done, but he demonstrates a high IQ for the game, and clearly shows significant upside. It will be interesting to see how he's progressed by season's end.