Many would call him an overnight sensation. But Ira Denson would just say he was finally coming into his own.
"I told him before that combine that the best ones jump to the front of the line and dominate who's in front of him," said Madison County coach Mike Coe. "That's what I told Chauncey Davis ten years ago when he was a sophomore when I took him to a Miami Nike Camp and he did the same thing. I told Ira to go kick butt and make sure you are the one they know about."
Boy did Denson listen. In fact he was the offensive line MVP over Tunsil. He even earned an Opening invitation right there on the spot.
Denson and Coe credit former Nebraska strength and conditioning coach Boyd Epley with his transformation. He worked in Lincoln under Tom Osborne during their great run in the 1990s. Coe saw him speak a clinic in Tampa and brought this workout to Madison. It's done wonders for Denson.
"He couldn't bend the way he needed to bend," said Coe of Denson. "But right after our state championship game Ira started working out in January and he worked hard. I mean hard. It was this Epley Nebraska workout. It's the same thing he ran with all those linemen at Nebraska all those years. It's just a high intensity workout you do for four weeks but only twice a year. Ira went from 315 to 321 but his body fat dropped to 11%."
So Denson went from just another name on a recruiting list to one of the country's very best offensive line prospects in the Class of 2013 virtually overnight. Really, the only school that was recruiting him prior to this Nike Camp was Florida International.
Things changed quickly. South Carolina was the first major school to offer Denson. Then came USF and all the others.
"Florida rolled in here the first day of spring [practice] and we were in shorts," Coe said. "He didn't do much. Ira is best in pads. FSU and coach [Rick] Trickett then saw him. They ended up offering. It's just been crazy."
For Denson he's just elated that he has the opportunity to play big time football and use this as a spring board to better himself.
"Honestly, this is a dream come true," Denson said. "I just wanted to have a chance to play at a high level one day."
And that opportunity will happen at nearby Florida State. It works out quite well for Denson, as his mother works in Tallahassee.
"I was always a fan of Florida State," Denson said. "It's like I was always supposed to play there. I just knew."
Denson, a four-star prospect and the No. 5 ranked offensive guard, committed to the Seminoles in late May. Since, he has been to a game in the Swamp and he will make some official visits after the season. But Denson insists he's a ‘Nole.
"I went to the Florida/LSU game in Gainesville," Denson said. "I just wanted to see how it was. It was good. Florida is nice and solid program. But there's nothing to it. I will also make official visits to South Carolina and Tennessee. I just want to get away and check out other programs. But I am firmly committed to Florida State."
Denson, now 6-foot-4 and 300-pounds, will make his official visit to FSU for the Gator game (11-24). He will play on the inside in Tallahassee.
"They try and teach all their inside guys to play guard and center," Coe said. "That will be good for Ira. Last season he played tackle for us. This year he's played guard. He's really improved on his knee bend, flexibility, and quickness. Physically, he's as good as we have ever had here."
"Ira has so much upside," Coe said. "He will make those right changes to his body when he gets to Florida State. When that happens there's no telling where he can go. He has a chance to do something special and get out of Madison. He has a chance to make it big and take care of his family and take care of his mom. He can change the outlook of his family. Very few people have that chance from here."