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May 5, 2014

Florida DB is WMU's tenth commitment

P.J. Fleck and Western Michigan picked up another commitment, this one from Stanahan High School defensive back Richie Kittles.

Kittles, the tenth commitment to the WMU 2015 recruiting class, is a three-star defensive back. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla. native chose Western Michigan over reported offers from Cincinnati, Liberty, South Alabama, Syracuse, Temple and Toledo.

He's a pure athlete and though he stands only 5-foot-10 he has very long arms which, coupled with his athleticism, really allow him to high point the football over potentially bigger receivers. Those long arms also help Kittles when wrapping up ball carriers, making him a pretty sound tackler from the safety position.

Very physical and embodying what has become the Western Michigan University football mentality, Kittles flat-out makes plays other defensive backs his size don't make.

What I see when looking over his film is ferocious pursuit of the football. Keeping his head on a swivel, Kittles locates the ball -- whether it's in flight to a receiver or in the hands of a running back -- and gets after it. At the 1:30 mark of his highlight film, he shows a great job of turning quickly and staying step-for-step with an opposing wide receiver.

At the 1:51 mark Kittles displays his physicality with two strong jams on wide receivers at the line of scrimmage. The first knocking down both the initial receiver and the trailing wide out. The second jam nearly pushes the opposing receiver straight out of bounds.

Where Kittles really excels for me, however, is when the ball is in front of him. At the 2:36 mark of the video, Kittles is lined up about five yards off the line of scrimmage. After the snap, the opposing quarterback turns and hands off to the running back who heads towards the far side of the field. Kittles -- running parallel to the line of scrimmage -- uses his solid speed to chase down the running back and deliver a punishing blow that the ball carrier didn't even see coming. When Kittles has the play in front of him and he's reacting to whoever has the ball, he is a dangerous defender capable of separating the man from the ball.

Kittles' commitment comes just two days after P.J. Fleck and his staff received word from South Christian (Grand Rapids, Mich.) quarterback Jon Wassink that he will be in Kalamazoo in the fall of 2015. If there were questions about whether Fleck and Co. could replicate their success with last years recruiting efforts, the early returns are very, very good.

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