Football fans see Highsmith’s name and assume he’s had an easy road to the SEC because of his father of the same name, who excelled as a running back at Miami before playing seven seasons in the NFL, and is currently a scouting executive with the Green Bay Packers. But he had a rough road on his way to success, which should make him a more respected player among scouts, who could give him late-round grades as reserve and special teams contributor – maybe more, if his past work ethic is any indicator of his future success.
Unlike his brother, A.J., who is a starting safety for their dad’s alma mater, Alonzo wasn’t a highly-recruited prospect coming out of Texas because he was undersized and a bit under the radar after moving from Florida to live with his father before his junior year. Low standardized test scores pushed him to Phoenix College, where he excelled in both seasons there, winning NJCAA Region One co-Defensive Player of the Year (94 tackles, 12 for loss, four sacks). In his first year in Fayetteville, he started all 13 games, leading the team with 12.5 tackles for loss among his 80 tackles.
Presents long arms and thick thighs for the position. Scrapes through trash to the ball, using his hands and general agility to feel his way and hold off oncoming blockers. Hustles to the sideline when needed. Strong and long arms allow him to secure ballcarriers in tight quarters. Flashes closing speed to the quarterback on late blitzes to force a decision. Generally doesn’t overrun plays, can get back a step to get involved on cutbacks. Gives good effort in underneath or flat coverage, works hard to reach the ball to prevent big plays after the catch.
Possesses average size and overall speed, might be an inside/outside ‘tweener to some teams. Reads his keys but will lose the ball on misdirection/play-action and takes time to recover. Quicker backs stop his feet and elude him in the backfield. Must prove he has the agility to drop deep in a hurry to be a factor in zones, as well as the ability to make the interception when the opportunity arises.
The son of former NFL running back (and current Green Bay Packers scouting executive) Alonzo Highsmith didn’t have an easy path to SEC success. Lightly recruited coming out of high school and forced to junior college due to academics, he finally got his chance to shine as a junior, starting all 13 games and leading the Razorbacks with 12.5 tackles for loss (80 total stops, 4.5 sacks). Adding that sort of work ethic and production to his genetic make-up makes him a likely contributor on defense and special teams at the next level as a late-round pick.
Future Hall of Famer
A once-in-a-generation type prospect who could change how his position is played
An impact player with the ability/intangibles to become a Pro Bowl player. Expect to start immediately except in a unique situation (i.e. behind a veteran starter).
A quality player who will contribute to the team early on and is expected to develop into a starter. A reliable player who brings value to the position.
A prospect with the ability to make team as a backup/role player. Needs to be a special teams contributor at applicable positions. Players in the high range of this category might have long-term potential.
A player with solid measurables, intangibles, college achievements, or a developing skill that warrants an opportunity in an NFL camp. In the right situation, he could earn a place on a 53-man roster, but most likely will be a practice squad player or a camp body.