The late Charles “Sonny” Spielman was the proud father of Chris, an All-American at Ohio State and NFL Pro Bowl linebacker, and Rick, the current general manager of the Minnesota Vikings. The long-time high school head coach in Ohio retired to Florida, but stayed involved in football as an assistant coach at Dr. Krop High School in Miami; there’s no doubt his words and connections helped Sabino decide to head north from Krop to play their college football in Columbus before he lost his battle with cancer in 2008 at the age of 71.
Though Sabino played in every game his first two years on campus, he couldn’t get much playing time on defense because of the team’s typical stable of veteran linebacker talent. He had six tackles in each of those seasons as a special teams ace, and returned a blocked punt 20 yards for a touchdown against Purdue in 2008. Sabino then decided to take a healthy redshirt for the 2010 season after losing out on the strong-side job to Andrew Sweat during the summer. Though he was in and out of the lineup as a junior (five starts in 13 games played), Sabino showed promise by making 62 tackles, 6.5 for loss, and two sacks. As a senior, Sabino broke his fibula, and only played in eight games. He managed 45 tackles (3.5 for loss) with two sacks and an interception.
Well-built, athletic linebacker who plays on the strong side and in the middle. Fights through blocks in the hole, and is capable of using violent hands to shed and grab running backs. Brings a powerful punch to pulling guards and fullbacks in the run game, and is tough to keep out of the backfield on A-gap blitzes. Shows enough speed to flow with stretch plays outside to make the stop, and hustles to the ball when there’s any chance to make a play.
Lateral movement might be an issue if playing outside; he might not stay on the field in nickel situations unless he proves the short-area quickness to do so at the next level. Plays with a high pad level, failing to break down in the hole against quicker ballcarriers. Must get his hands up consistently when attacking blocks, whether on the edge or against running backs on blitzes. Underwhelming career.
Sabino is versatile prospect capable of rushing the passer, handling tight ends, and holding the point as a strong side ‘backer and also works hard to plug holes when lined up inside. Sabino still has upside, but will need to prove he can play on special teams.
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.