Coach Upbeat Auburn Talented Young Tackle

Freshman lineman Oscar Gonzalez is one of the more impresssive members of Auuburn's 2005 football signee class.

Auburn, Ala.--Hugh Nall got a chance to work with Oscar Gonzalez in the summer of 2004 and liked what he saw.

Now that the tall lineman from Hialeah, Fla., High is on campus, Auburn's offensive line coach is more convinced that Gonzalez has a promising future as an offensive tackle.

"He is very, very talented," Nall tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "He has natural ability to play the tackle position because he has such long arms. He does a great job of getting his hands on guys quickly. I have just been real impressed with him so far."

Hugh Nall makes a point to Oscar Gonzalez on the freshman's first day of college practice.

Although he had mainly been a defensive tackle prior to his senior season, Nall made a very early offer to Gonzalez to play offense at Auburn and the two-sport star became an early commitment to the Tigers. He stayed with that commitment when other colleges tried to convince him to go elsewhere during his impressive senior season.

"He is a real tough kid, too," Nall says. "I saw that at our camp last year when he busted his nose and kept going. I knew he was not going to be afraid of competing or playing hurt." With blood dripping from his nose, Gonzalez kept on going in one-on-one drills at that camp and he displayed quick feet and all-around athletic ability.

"He is a lot bigger than he was last summer," Nall says. "He is up to 300-plus and I think he is going to be a good one."

Gonzalez notes that coming to Auburn early has helped him get bigger as he has been training with his new teammates and eating well. "I am 6-6 1/2, 310 pounds," he says. "When I got here I was 6-6, 286 pounds."

Gonzalez weighed as much as 290 during football at Hialeah High, but dropped to 275pounds to make his weight to stay under the limit to compete in the state wrestling championships.

"His wrestling helps him enormously with his footwork and quickness," notes Hialeah coach Alex Terry. "He's aggressive and competitive as heck."

The big lineman from talent-rich Dade County headed north to Auburn earlier this summer. "I have been up here for almost a month and a half," he notes. "They had a couple of us in the STEP program, which gives you a heads up for college. They put us in three classes. I also did a lot of lifting."

The first week of practice has been going well, the freshman says. "I am going to play left tackle," he says. "Whatever they tell me to do, I will do it."

Currently, he says that he plans to major in business, but his off the field passion is automobiles and he notes that he will probably choose a major that will help him get involved in the "automotive engineering" business.

Offensive tackle Oscar Gonzalez is shown during a water break at his first week of college football practice.

Gonzalez wrapped up his high school athletic career with a strong run at the state wrestling title. He is still irritated about finishing as the runnerup.

"Let's just say I came into some conflict in the state finals," the big freshman says with a scowl. "I was winning with eight seconds left, but I got disqualified. The referee was hitting me with false penalties."

The scowl is the kind of look that an offensive line coach could grow to love from a lineman as big and tough as young Mr. Gonzalez.

"He is going to be a good one," says Nall, who has a reason to smile about what he is seeing from the young lineman.


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