Eastwood High School’s Jaden Rayford waited until I left in the middle of the third quarter to do his thing as a running back. Limited on touches the first half, he went on to take over the game in the second half.
Guessin 6’1-190 Jaden plays on both sides of the ball for Eastwood. More of a wing back, in Eastwood’s wing-t offense, he also plays strong safety on defense. Important to me, because I believe top players in smaller school programs, should be playing both ways. If not starting, playing a lot of minutes total.
First watched him play varsity as a freshman. Got some touches, but was a back up. But you could see his potential. Some natural moves as a running back.
Last year he ran for over 2,000 yards on the season. Eastwood played in the D-5 State Championship game against undefeated Wheelersburg. Jaden rushed rushed for 138 yards.
Really believe that he gets stronger the more he carries the ball. Good vision. Finds the opening. Makes defenders miss. Breaks tackles. Good initial burst. A quiet, fifth gear. Playing more of a wing position, I did not see him behind the quarterback.
Early in the game, Jaden showed a willingness to block and this continued throughout the game. Good size for a running back and will continue to get bigger.
Actually, I like him just a little more as a defensive back. Plays more of a strong and sometimes free. Good on run support. Runs sideline to sideline. Good initial contact with BC. Backpedals. Can change direction. Can plant and drive.
On the college level, I would work him at corner first. If that did not work, he would move to an inside DB position. At least 6’0-190 and shows some toughness. Closes on the ball well.
This winter’s conditioning program and next summer’s college football camps are huge. Needs to get bigger/stronger/faster. Needs to work hard in the successful Eastwood track program. Excellent long jumper. Needs to get faster. Needs to completely focus on getting better.
With three regular season games remaining, Eastwood should return to the playoffs. More chances fro Eastwood and Jaden to get better.
Eastwood football plays Division 5 high school football. It is what it is, but Jaden has to really “jump out” at the BCS level football coaches. D1 college coaches need to see talent, toughness, and a desire in good smaller school football programs. Level of competition will always be a concern. Right or wrong – it is reality.
Jaden Rayford has lot of “upside,” but he must continue to work hard all year around. He plays in a very good small school program and has one more year.
Cincinnati and Toledo have shown early interest.