OL a Need for Class of '09

Head coach Urban Meyer has stated that his goal is to have 16 offensive linemen on the roster at all times. Before we look at some of the offensive lineman for the class of 2009 lets take a look at the current offensive linemen on the roster today.

Red Shirt Seniors
Phil Trautwein
Jason Watkins
Jim Tartt

Red Shirt Juniors
Simon Codrington

Red Shirt Sophmores
Marcus Gilbert
Carl Johnson
Corey Hobbs
Maurice Hurt
Jim Barrie

True Sophmores
Michael Pouncey
Maurkice Pouncey

Red Shirt Freshmen
# - James Wilson

True Freshmen
Matt Patchan
Sam Robey
David Young

# - Possible future transfer

For the sake of argument, I listed every possible position move to the offensive line for a best case scenario. Looking at it that way the Gators have 15 offensive linemen on the roster. Certainly, James Wilson could no longer be with the team come the fall and Jones and Pouncey could end up at defensive tackle which would leave the Gators with only 13 offensive linemen. So for now I will use the 13 number as my bench mark.

Once you factor in the three seniors that leaves the Gators with a total of 10 offensive linemen after the 2008 season. Having said that, look for the Gators to sign anywhere from 4-5 offensive linemen depending on who is available. I believe when it is all said and done, the Gators will take four offensive linemen in this year's recruiting class.

Every Gator fan has learned the name of the big Perry High School offensive guard star Johnnie Farms from Perry (Ga.). Farms is 6-3 and 300-pounds. Florida, Georgia, Auburn, LSU and Tennessee all have shown great interest in Farms who admits he grew up a Gator fan and was close to committing to the Gators back in January. Farms ins ranked No. 168 in the nation by Scout.com, but clearly could move into the Top 100 before its all said and done.

Antonio Foster from Valdosta (Ga.) High School took a recent trip to Gainesville with teammate Mike Gilliard and walked away with the Gators as the team to beat. Foster is 6-2 and 285-pounds. Foster and Gilliard are very close and it will be interesting to see how this one plays out but both mention the Gators at or near the top of their board.

One of the hottest prospects in the nation is the No. 8 ranked offensive tackle prospect Xavier Nixon. Nixon from Fayetteville (N.C.) Jack Britt High School is every bit the 6-6, 285-pounds that he is listed at. When Nixon mentions the Gators he talked about the rich tradition and great atmosphere of The Swamp. He will take a trip to Florida over the summer to learn more about the Gators. Clemson might be the team to beat for Nixon when all is said and done.

Next up is Eric Shrive; Shrive is from Scranton (Pa.) West Scranton High School and stands 6-7 and 285-pounds. Early in the recruiting process the message board talk was that no team could beat out Notre Dame for the big offensive tackle. Shrive told me recently that he's not sure where all that came from but he is giving everyone a look and that includes the Gators. His older brother lives in St. Petersburg and his entire family will be in Florida for Easter break. He plans to visit the Gators the Friday before Easter. Shrive is the No. 18 ranked player in the nation.

The nation's No. 44 ranked player is Nick Alajajian from Naples (Fla.) High School and is 6-3 and 280-pounds. He holds offers from Florida State, Florida, Clemson, Tennessee, Miami, and South Florida. Alajajian also receives letters from Ohio State, Texas and Notre Dame. The in-state schools are at the top of his list and mentions his top two as Florida and Florida State. He attended junior day in Gainesville with teammates Carlos Hyde and Greg Pratt. It should come down to the big three.

The Scout.com No. 100 ranked player is offensive tackle prospect Austin Long from Memphis (Tenn.) Briarcrest Christian High School and is 6-5 and 270-pounds. Long lists Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Tennessee and Vanderbilt as his schools of interest and will not decide early.

The only other offensive line prospect that has an offer from the Gators at this time might be the biggest prospect in the 2009 class. Chris Freeman from Trotwood, Ohio stands 6-9 and 325-pounds. He only started playing football this past season and is an extremely athletic for a player his size. He plans to take a trip to Gainesville over the summer, but I believe that Michigan is the team to beat. The Wolverines recently offered and two of his teammates from last year signed with Michigan.

One other offensive lineman to keep an eye on is Princeton (N.J.) standout Anthony LaLota from The Hun School. Lalota is 6-6 and 265-pounds and comes in at No. 67 on the Scout.com National Top 100.

These are just a few offensive linemen to keep an eye on as the May evaluation period approaches.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Jason Higdon

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