Scout / Kan Li

Herbert: “Everything about Florida is there”

Florida needs to hit it big on the offensive line in 2017 and one of the hottest prospects on the board right now has been the target of the Gators for a while now. American Heritage offensive tackle Kai-Leon Herbert is up to 17 offers and climbing fast and the Gators want to be the one he covets the most.

It is the time of year for high school football players to prepare their bodies for spring ball and the season that is still six months ahead. To be goo in September, you have to do the right things in the winter, spring, and summer.

One reason Kai-Leon Herbert is coveted the way he is and the way he is going to be is because of the work he puts in. He’s doing a lot of it now.

“Weight training is going well, I’m working every day,” Herbert said by phone on Wednesday. “I’m doing one-on-ones and steps five days a week. Everything is going well.  I’m working hard on my pass sets and my steps. As a lineman you always need good steps and hands.”

He’s on fire with offers and up to 17 with the last several coming from Louisville, LSU, Kentucky, UCF, and Colorado. In the SEC alone he has LSU, Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee, and “Georgia has been talking to me, but they haven’t offered yet.”

With all the work he puts in, the college coaches see a well-rounded offensive lineman.

“They tell me they like the way I play the game overall, run game and pass game,” he said. “They always tell me I am very athletic at my position and can get to the second level.”

Of the schools on his list he hasn’t really made a top list, but a quintet of programs seem to be a little ahead of the pack at the moment.

“I haven’t made a final list… Florida is definitely in there, but I am starting to look at LSU and Tennessee as well… and a couple of others. I like Michigan (offered a while ago) and Miami as well.

He talked about these five.

Miami: “Coach Searels, the news offensive line coach, knows what he is doing. I like Coach Richt as well. They also have Coach Rumph, my old head coach there. They are something to look at more.”

Michigan: “Nick (Eubanks) being there is something that helps. Playing with him again would be great. Definitely, their recruiting class of 2016 was something to look at. I just like Coach Harbaugh as a coach.”

Tennessee: “Coach Mahoney, the o-line coach up there, he’s good and I have seen the way he coaches his o-line guys. Coach Jones treats his guys great. The atmosphere at Tennessee is something to look at and they also have Brandon Johnson up there, another teammate of mine.”

LSU: “From when I was up there in the summer, I was talking to Coach Grimes, the offensive line coach. At the time I wasn’t aware that they had interest in me, but they talked to my coach about how much I improved from the previous year. When I was there I talked to Coach Grimes and Coach (Les) Miles and they’re really good coaches. LSU is a really cool place to be.

He’s been to Florida a few times and camped. There is little doubt the Gators are high on his list. He really has taken to offensive line coach mike Summers and assistant Randy Shannon who recruits his school.

“Everything about Florida is there, academics and athletics, Herbert said. “I’ve started to talk to Coach Summers and Coach Shannon more and have been building a strong relationship with them. Some of the players they are recruiting I like as well. For the 2017 class they only have one commit on the offensive line.

“Coach Summers is really cool. When you mess up or make a mistake, he will correct your mistake he doesn’t yell, he’ll correct your mistake and then if you do it again you will get it. He’s a really cool guy. You can talk to him about anything. He takes the offensive linemen on fishing trips. He introduced his wife and she was really cool. When you talk to him you get a sense of what you will be dealing with when you’re there.”

“Coach Shannon definitely knows what he is doing down there, he’s been down here quite a few times already. He goes for the best people when he recruits down here.”

Despite the previous trips the Florida staff would love to get Herbert back on campus again early and often. He said he’s working on it.  

“I was supposed to go for Junior Day on the 30th (of January), but I never planned for my ride,” Herbert said. “They invited me back for the 20th, so maybe I’ll go then. If not, I will work something else out. I will probably get up there for spring ball if I can.”

Football isn’t the only goal and Florida stresses that as well. Herbert certainly has his academics in line. He currently sports a 3.7 GPA.

He’s given up basketball to concentrate on his future in football. At 6-foot-5, he is weighing in at 275 pounds and says he wants to be 285 pounds by the start of his senior season.

He’s got just about everything you are looking for in a high profile offensive line recruit and more schools are going to take that jump in offering him. Florida will certainly be keeping a close eye and trying to get him back on campus.

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