NAME: Essang Bassey
SCHOOL: Wake Forest
JERSEY: No. 21
RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star
WT: 185 lbs
Starting every game as a true sophomore, Bassey tallied 75 tackles, 16 pass breakups and three interceptions and received honorable mention All-ACC honors. On a Deac’s defense that only returns six starters from 2017, Bassey has a critical season ahead of him as an experienced starter and leader on the defense.
Where Bassey stands out most is with his ball skills. Bassey sharply finds the football in the air and does well to play through the receivers hands to disrupt passes. He also tracks it well with his back to the line of scrimmage and stays connected with his man and he positions himself to make plays. Bassey also showcases quick, balanced footwork and fluid hips to turn and run in off man coverage. That allows him to remain in phase and be trusted to win when isolated against receivers alone in space.
Where Bassey needs to show more consistency is trusting and developing his technique when playing on the line of scrimmage. In addition, Bassey has moments where he appears the be a reluctant tackler and is guilty at nipping at ankles instead of squaring up the ball carrier, wrapping low and bringing his feet through contact. He does have flashes of sound form tackles but he needs to be more consistent. Given his stature, his contact power and ability to redirect with his hands will always be something he has to overcome, but it’s a notable limitation when projection and evaluating him to the next level.
Bassey should continue to develop and has a future NFL role most likely in the slot where his footwork and ball skills are accentuated and his lack of size/strength is somewhat hidden.