RECRUITING: Boca's Balkunas Will Rise On DT Charts

Boca Raton HS (FL) offensive guard/defensive tackle Rob Balkunas III is one of those guys that coaches love to have as the first line of defense or offense for that matter. The fiery 6-1, 290-pound lineman is a menace on the field and a good character guy off of it.

The only child of Robert Balkunas Jr. has lived in Boca Raton for about 12 years after moving from Philadelphia. Rob III is a second generation athlete. His father played college ball up north.

"My dad, Robert Balkunas Jr., was a middle linebacker at Temple University," Rob said. "He walked on his first year and started on special teams. He started as a middle linebacker from his sophomore to his senior year. He had a free agent tryout with the Eagles."

Rob is a pretty good student and likes to spend his free time deep sea fishing off of the Bahamas with friends and family. He also takes in a lot of football.

"I go to pretty much every football game I can go to in the area when we are not playing," he said. "I go to a high school game or Hurricane games because I can get in free being a recruit."

Balkunas appreciates hard work and dedication. Something he notices in one of his favorite role models.

"Denzel Washington, he just seems like a very down to earth kind of guy," he explained. "He is very into what he does and I like that he is very focused on what he is doing. He is a great actor. He seems so real when you watch his movies."

His thoughts on hard work translate to his favorite pro athlete. Balkunas tells us of his favorite ex-Miami Hurricane and current NFL star Vince Wilfork.

"My favorite athlete would have to be Vince Wilfork," he said. "I say that because he went through a lot of troubles when his parents died. He is one of the best defensive tackles that I have ever seen. He has worked hard. Reading articles about him, it seems like he is one of the hardest workers. I have met him a few times. He is really cool."

Of course Boca Raton is close to the University of Miami and the Canes are prominent among fans in the area. For Balkunas, they've been his favorite since childhood.

"The University of Miami," he said. "I have been watching them since I was ten years old."

And dad? "He is a fan too, but Temple comes first."

The Boca Raton Bobcats look like a team that can go a long way this year, and if you talk to the rising seniors, you understand why. They are brimming with confidence.

"If we all play to our potential and each do our job on the field, we can take it far," he said. "I feel we can win a state title. We have the talent to do so. It's just if everyone has a positive attitude and brings what they need to the table and everyone steps off, so slacking off or messing around. We can take it as far as we want."

Bobcat Coach Rick Swain says of Balkunas, "He has great athleticism for a 290-pounder. Rob had a great year recording 42 pancake blocks in eight games. He also graded out the highest at 78.6 percent per game leading our team every week. This year will mark Rob's fourth year of varsity football."

Balkunas will have to be a big part of the team's success and he plans on it by playing on both sides of the ball.

"Defensively, I am all about three and out and let's get the offense back on the field," he stated. "I play with my nose to the ball attitude and hit the guy in front of me as hard as I can. Hit the ball carrier and make him pay."

From his offensive guard position, he sees himself as a field general on the offensive line and one of the team leaders.

"Offensively, I am pretty much the co-leader on the field," he said. "I let the quarterback lead us because he is the boss. We have a hell of a quarterback here and he's the boss. If someone screws up or speaks out with an attitude I put them back in their place. I just make sure every one is in line on offense. I have been starting since I was a sophomore with one of the other linemen. I am more of a vocal leader on the offense."

Whichever side of the ball he is on, his opponents better be aware where he is at all times. Balkunas doesn't take playing football lightly.

"On the field I get into some kind of rage," he said. "It seems like I'm going crazy but I still know what I am doing. I just love to crush people when I am out there. I just go kind of psycho and play like a mad man out there. When I get into that rage my power multiplies, and throughout the whole game I am into a psycho rage out there on the field. I get fired up with my buddies in the weight room too."

College coaches have already told Balkunas that he can expect to play on the defensive side of the ball.

"I expect to be a defensive tackle," he said. "I don't have the height for offensive line. Even though I know I can play with the best of them, colleges like the 6-4 or 6-5 guys inside. I would like to still play offensive line, but I will play defensive line in college."

It is still early in the process for high school juniors. The April evaluation period is still two months away and a lot of the juniors haven't been identified. Balkumas has had a few notices though.

"No offers yet, just letters from the likes of Louisville, Pittsburgh, NC State, Georgia Tech, and Miami," he said. "I also have some interest from the University of Florida. I am supposed to talk to one of their coaches soon."

He has a slight interest in some of the northern schools since he still has roots in Pennsylvania.

"I have always liked Pittsburgh and Penn State, but I like the hot weather so I want to stay down here," he said.

Balkunas is the wild man on the field who is at the core of a group of seniors that plans to take Boca Raton to a state championship. If he performs as he has in the past couple of years and the team shows up big on the field, he will probably show up on a lot of recruiting lists.

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