Grafton High rising senior Ifeatu Melifonwu committed to Syracuse University last month as a cornerback. The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder is a terrific all-around athlete, as evidence by his performance last season. Melifonwu was a force offensively and defensively for the Indians in 2015, as they captured the MIAA Division 4 Central title before falling in the state semifinals. He scored several different ways offensively and he shut down the opposing team's best receiver defensively.
Here's our scouting report on Melifonwu.
Man to Man Coverage
Melifonwu is a smooth athlete who transitions well in his backpedal, and can turn and change direction easily. He glides on the balls of his feet, and he shows the ability to stick his foot in the ground, plant, and drive to the ball.
Melifonwu moves well in space and covers a lot of ground in zone coverage. He does a good job of playing the flat area in Cover 2. He re-routes receivers and jumps his eyes inside to the No. 2 receiver. Melifonwu can play in a press alignment, but he's equally effective playing off in a quarters coverage alignment.
As I mentioned earlier, Melifonwu has terrific recognition skills and can plant and drive on the ball. He moves well in all four directions, and can chase plays down from the backside.
Key and Diagnose
Melifonwu needs to develop further in this area. While he does a good job of recognizing passing plays and running plays, he tends to get caught in the clutter sometimes when getting in his pursuit angle from the backside. Melifonwu will improve in this area once he starts working with the Syracuse coaching staff.
Melifonwu has terrific lateral speed. He plays square to the line of scrimmage until the runner declares, and then he takes good angles. At times, Melifonwu needs to do a better job of working through traffic when pursuing the ball.
Melifonwu is a terrific tackler. He is technically sound on contact and he wraps and drives ball carriers to the ground. You can tell he's been well-coached in this area, because he keeps his head out of the tackle. Melifonwu is a good trail tackler from the backside of plays. He does have a tendency to get dragged for extra yardage sometimes. He needs to get stronger.
Melifonwu ran a 4.58 in the 40 last year, so he has legitmiate Division 1 speed. He plays even faster than that on tape. He moves well in space and he gets in and out of cuts with ease. Melifonwu is a long strider and he can accelerate quickly when running with or without the ball.
Melifonwu is also a receiver, so the ball skills are evident on both sides of the ball. He can high point the ball one on one in coverage and he's strong with the ball in his hands. Melifonwu has long arms and a wide catch radius which enables him to win jump ball situations.
Melifonwu has the size and the athleticism to be a productive press corner at the next level. Teams at the NFL and college level want corners with length that can jam and re-route receivers out of Cover 2. Melifonwu can do that and effectively support the run. The 40 time might not be ideal, but Melifonwu plays faster than his time and his athleticism is evident on tape. There no question that Melifonwu has the physical tools to be a multi-year starter at Syracuse.