"It just felt like home," Gonzalez tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "The coaches are nice, the environment is nice, I like the campus from what I saw. I just like the competition level up there.
"Coach (Eddie) Gran is a real good guy," Gonzalez says of the coach that is recruiting him for Auburn. "All the coaches that I talked to are nice. They are young and they showed me what Auburn was all about. Plus, having a lot of Miami boys up there makes me feel at home."
With Columbus, Ga. standout offensive lineman Michael Harness already on board for 2005, Auburn is looking to get at least two more offensive linemen to round out the class and Gonzalez fits the bill perfectly. A 6-6, 293 wrecking ball at offensive tackle, Gonzalez is just beginning to fill out physically and should play in the 330 range once in college.
Offensive lineman Oscar Gonzalez
A defensive player for much of his career, Gonzalez switched to offensive tackle in the spring and the interest from colleges has taken off since that time. Watching and learning at camps in Auburn, at Florida and Florida Atlantic, Gonzalez says that his play got much better over the summer because of what he picked up.
"I learned a lot," Gonzalez says. "I'm still learning and in the process of learning. Whatever I pick up helps me out in the long run. I picked up a lot of stuff in the camps, particularly at Auburn. I spent a lot of time up there and I picked up a little bit from everywhere I've been.
"I have been playing defense for three years and I already know how the defensive player is thinking," he adds. "I know what a lineman has to do. It helps me know what's going on during the game."
A wrestler in addition to football player, Gonzalez is very aggressive and that is something rarely found in high school offensive linemen with his size and athleticism. At almost 300 pounds Gonzalez had a vertical leap of 34 inches at the Miami MSL Combine in April and he says that his strength is his ability to move side to side while blocking, something wrestling helps develop.
"Wrestling helps me a lot on my footwork," Gonzalez says. "It has made me quicker and it taught me early on how to control my hip movements. It helps me control my balance and my center point of gravity."
As a junior Gonzalez finished 26-6 as a wrestler and will make a run at the state title this season. A three-year starter at defensive tackle who will play both ways as a senior, he made 24 tackles and four sacks despite missing almost half his junior season with a knee injury after he was cut down by a low block during a game.
"The Gators were looking at me, but I didn't really like the school," Gonzalez says. "I looked at a couple of more schools, but I just didn't feel at home. I'm still planning to take some visits this fall, but I'm committed to Auburn."