US ARMY GAME: Symonette Is A True Giant

SAN ANTONIO, Texas --- They say that everything is bigger out here in Texas. You would probably agree if you saw the offensive linemen assembled for this year's US Army All-American Game. Even surrounded by some very big men, Ian Symonette of Houston's St. Pius X is a true giant. From the bottom of his feet to the top of his scalp he is a towering 6-9 but if you add in his three inches of hair, the only thing taller in this town is Tim Duncan.

(See Ian Symonette profile)

A true mountain of a man, the 330-pound Symonette is a five-star offensive tackle who was born and raised in the Bahamas. On the field he's a fierce competitor but off the field he is a true gentle giant. He speaks accent-free English even though he's only been in the United States for a short time. He's adapted to the United States and the game of football far better than anyone could have imagined. He lives in the US with a guardian while his parents live in the Bahamas.

"My parents are in the Bahamas," he said Tuesday afternoon. "I live with Mr. Rutherford … he is my guardian. I came to Houston about a year and a half ago from the Bahamas. I switched (my speech) over pretty quickly. If I talked [like a Bahamian] it would be very fast."

Symonette has been having a wonderful time in San Antonio where he has established himself as a stalwart on the West offensive line.

"It has been great," he said. "It's been wonderful playing with these guys. Everything is good. They make sure everything is there for us. I have been playing right tackle. From the first day of practice we were in sync. All of the guys feed off each other. When one of us makes a mistake we get it together and make the corrections. Everyone is feeding off each other."

The East offensive line has some wide bodies of its own but Symonette has some words to the wise for those guys.

Ian Symonette (#77) takes on Jermaine Williams

"Our defensive line is whoa," he said. "Those guys are big, quick, they will dominate on Saturday. They are the best linemen I have played against."

Symonette only lives three hours away from San Antonio but the list of potential schools he may sign with ranges from Texas to Florida. He has either visited or scheduled visits to his top five schools: Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Florida, Miami, and LSU. He has plenty to say about each school:

OKLAHOMA: "It's a solid system and a perfect situation for a lineman. The atmosphere around the area is really good and the education system is really good. It was a great visit. I got to hang around the players after the OSU (Oklahoma State) game. Fortunately they won and I got to see how things were after a win."

TEXAS A&M: "It is close to where I came to (in Texas) and it's a nice place. The facilities are awesome. They have a great education and a family community type atmosphere with the coaches. It was a week after the Oklahoma visit. I got lucky because I was the only recruit there that weekend, so I got to see the whole campus easily."

FLORIDA: "It is another good place. I like the way they do things over there and their coaches a lot. I like the way their coaches work and their work ethic. You don't have a lot of guys going away from the rules and stuff. I had a very structured foundation growing up.

"I am visiting Florida on the 13th. I am looking for how things work around there. I want to see how the systems work and how the coaches respond. I want to go and see how things look and what makes them better than anyone else."

MIAMI: "It is the school I always heard about being from the Bahamas. I knew it was a pretty good school. It's different with the coaching situation but like anything else the coaches can change. The situation might change a little bit, but it's really on the defensive side of the ball. Miami was a great visit. A lot of players that are here in this game were there. I got to see the school and it was a nice campus and a nice place."

LSU: "The educational system is a great one. They also have a great situation for linemen with a lot of linemen leaving."

Perhaps there is a future in restaurant management or as a restaurant owner as Symmonette wants to major in culinary arts and business. He has taken his mother on the visits to Miami, Oklahoma and Texas A&M. She will be accompanying him on visits to Florida and LSU. After that, he will be making a choice.

"I am wide open and I will make my decision by signing day," he said.

The final decision will be made based on where he feels he fits in best.

"Comfortability," he said, "How I feel at the school. Depth charts play a factor but there is no use in me going to a school that has immediate playing time and I don't really want to go there. I have to be comfortable at that place. All of those schools, I can't go wrong with the choice but I need to feel comfortable. It doesn't matter where it is. If I am comfortable that's where I will go."

Ian Symonette has the kind of size and potential that put him at the top of every Division I coach's wish list. There are only five schools still in the running for this big guy and only one will come away with his signature on National Signing Day. It's all about comfort and there are only three weeks remaining for some school to make him feel that he fits in perfectly.

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