RECRUITING: Embarrassment of Riches For OL Board

When it comes to recruiting and the offensive line position, call it an embarrassment of riches for the Florida Gators. We take a look at the prospects who are seriously considering the Gators. Of course the Gators can't and won't sign every one of them but any five or six-man combination from this group would be the foundation of great UF offensive teams for the next 4-5 years.

Right now, this position seems to be the deepest and most talented on the entire recruiting board, particularly with the commitment of all-world Carl Johnson of Durham (NC) Southern. .

The Gators plan to sign at least five, preferably six offensive linemen.

Carl Johnson, Durham (NC) Southern, (6-6, 335): Ranked among the top 25 overall players in the country according to the latest rankings, "The Pancake Man" committed early to the Gators, catching a lot of people by surprise. Just before the camps committed, some of the top prospects came in for a Saturday visit on June 4. On hand were at least 15 players who could be classified true high school All-Americans. Johnson was the first of four commitments in a two-week period spurred on by the camp. Most recruiting gurus rank Johnson among the top 3-4 offensive line prospects in the country. He had some great things to say after his commitment in a conversation with Larry Vettel of Gator Country.

"The surprising thing is it was the off-the-field activities," said Johnson, revealing what convinced him to be a Gator. "The players were really down-to-earth and 'homey' and the academic people and coaching staff talked more about learning in the classroom than the field. Most other places worry about the field then class but they talked more to me about being a man and supporting your family knowing football wasn't going to last forever.

"I just want to consistently play above my level of competition. In high school there's not that much competition at my school or in the area that I play so I want to focus on getting better. College is a whole different level because everyone is your size and has strength so I want to focus on getting better in every area so I'm above the average freshman."

Sam Young, Ft. Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas (6-7, 290): Young is the fourth ranked offensive lineman in America according to the latest rankings and some experts think he is the best player in the state of Florida regardless of position. It is certainly safe to say that he is the most dominant offensive lineman in the state. Young has quick feet and knows all the tricks with near perfect technique. He recently narrowed his list of schools down a final seven which includes Florida. He attended that June 4 Junior Day and since then three of the visitors from that special gathering have committed to Florida.

Daniel Wenger, Ft Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas (6-4, 285): Many recruiting experts consider Wenger the best center prospect in the country. With Sam Young and Wenger playing together, is it any wonder that the Aquinas line is considered the best high school O-line in the country? Wenger is a great student and academics will figure as much as football when he makes his choice. Recently he narrowed his list to five schools and that included Florida.

In an intervied with Ryan Jordan of, Wenger talked about the positives at Florida: "They have good athletics, great academics and Coach (Urban) Meyer is going to be really turning the program around with his discipline and the way he teaches."

Daron Rose, Tampa (FL) Jefferson (6-4, 310): Although he doesn't have ideal speed, Daron Rose more than compensates with picture perfect mechanics and intimidating size. He is definitely among the top five linemen in the state of Florida. He allowed no sacks and registered 100 pancake blocks as a junior. He also visited Florida on June 4 Junior Day.

In a June 14 interview with Gator Country, Rose said, "The trip (to Gainesville) itself was amazing … the atmosphere. The coaches took us to Lake Wauberg. We got one-on-one time with every coach … you know it wasn't just the position coach. They came up and talked to us and introduced their families to us. We met with some current players and some other recruits. It was an amazing atmosphere."

Andre Smith, Birmingham (AL) Huffman-Magnet School (6-4, 315): It is very hard to get a read on where Smith is leaning because he keeps things pretty much to himself. According to's latest rankings, Smith is the nation's top offensive line recruit. He is quick, powerful and a total dominator. No wonder every top program in the country is recruiting him hard. He told Gator Country that he has no allegiance to in-state schools Auburn or Alabama, but everyone knows how hard it is to pull great players from that state.

In an interview with Jamie Newberg in May, Smith said "I like that new coach (Urban Meyer) at Florida. He went unbeaten at Utah and produced the first pick (Alex Smith) in the NFL Draft. At Florida under Meyer you have to come in and work hard. I like that."

Aaron Brown, Cincinnati (OH) Princeton (6-6, 283): Brown comes in rated in the top 100 players in America according to the newest rankings. He has exceptional power and quickness for an offensive lineman and is a terror once the ball is snapped. Brown and his father are taking the recruiting process very seriously. Brown's father George told me two weeks ago that he would be visiting Florida during the Florida - Florida State game weekend.

George Brown told Dave Peters of, "We met with Coach Meyer and we like Florida because they will be graduating five offensive linemen."

Lee Tilley, Springfield (OH) Springfield South (6-5, 321): Tilley is a massive lineman who can be explosive coming off the ball. He has natural strength and he gets off the ball quickly because he gets good hand placement. Lee is a mauler who shows some nastiness in his game. He is indecisive about where he is going to be playing at the next level but whenever he gives a list of schools that interest him, Florida is always included. It seems the big guy just isn't ready to narrow the field as of yet.

Maurice Hurt, Milledgeville (GA) Baldwin County (6-3.5, 344): Hurt is a big bruising offensive lineman who must work on his speed but his size and strength make him a great prospect. He is a member of's South Hot 100 and he's easily ranked among the best offensive linemen in the region.

In an interview with Gator Country last week, Hurt said, "I like the Gators. I like Coach (John) Hevesy and the other new coaches there. They really had it working at Utah so I think there is a lot better talent at Florida than Utah … better players. And they are getting more, so they will put their scheme in and do good in the SEC."

Connor Smith, Cincinnati (OH) Colerain (6-5, 295): Smith is's number five offensive lineman in America and he is listed in the top 25 players overall in the entire country. He has all the tools college scouts look for in an offensive lineman and he uses them to dominate opponents on the field. Smith hasn't talked much about the Gators, but when he received an offer recently, he immediately placed Florida in his top five. He plans on making a decision before August 1.

Bartley Webb Springdale (AR) (6-6, 280): A member of the fabled "Springdale Five," Webb released a new top five last week and the Gators made the cut. Webb already visited Gainesville this summer with his coach and two other teammates. He has good size, quickness and technique and should be a standout at the next level of play.

Jovon Hayes, Los Angeles (CA) Dorsey (6-2.5, 320): Hayes is one of the Big Three from Dorsey. Florida is recruing Hayes and teammates Stafon Johnson (running back) and Mark Johnson (linebacker) very hard. While it may be hard to get Hayes to leave California, especially with Southern Cal so close to his high school campus, he still mentions the Gators in his top group. Stafon Johnson and Mark Johnson also have the Gators at or near the top of their lists.

In mid-May, Hayes told Gator Country, "Growing up I liked USC and Florida. I had friends out in Florida, so I liked them. The running back coach, Coach (Stan) Drayton … he is really recruiting me. I get letters from him every day saying 'I want you to come HERE.' I also like the speed out there (in Florida). The SEC is a big conference to play in, too. I also want to go against Florida State and Miami."

J.B. Walton, Indian Head (MD) Lackey (6-3, 270): Walton is a quick offensive lineman that the Gators would use at the tackle spot. Listed as the #26 player in the east region at any position by, Walton has been offered by the Gators and he has kept Florida in his top list of schools from the very beginning.

Antonio Logan-El, Forestville (MD) (6-6, 320): Previously a Maryland commitment, Logan-El has opened the recruiting process up again. He has the size and the potential to be a dominator at the next level. Ranked number 37 nationally, he is the number 10 ranked offensive lineman in's rankings. He currently lists Florida in his top five schools.

Matt Carufel, St. Paul (MN) Cretin Derham Hall (6-5, 288): Carufel is the nation's ninth rated offensive lineman and a member of's latest top 100 national recruits. He has three schools that he plans to visit already, but he says he might visit two more schools and Florida could be one of the two.

Steve Schilling, Bellevue (WA) (6-5, 290): Schilling is the number two offensive lineman in the country according to's rankings. He is a road-grading offensive lineman that just loves to mash people. He shies away from interviews, preferring to let his play on the field do the talking for him. He has had Florida on his list of potential schools since the beginning and though Florida is a long way from his home state, nothing should be surprising the way the Gator coaching staff is recruiting. Until he eliminates Florida completely, it's wise to keep him on this list.

This is not an official list, simply the offer board for the Gators based on the information Gator Country and have been able to gather. There are some exceptional players who have not gotten an offer so this is a list that could expand or contract quickly. Because Florida is rated so highly by so many of the nation's top kids, there is reason to believe this is going to be a big year for the Gators on the offensive line.

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