Though the recruiting process is fairly young for junior offensive tackle J.J. Gustafson, he already acquired an extremely impressive list of schools; and offers just keep on coming.
Gustafson is known for his ability to put on his game face, or "mean streak" as he calls it, when it's time to get on the field.
"Coaches have commented on the fact that I am really easy going and nice when I'm off the field, but when I step on the field it's a different story," said Gustafson.
His athleticism, ability to move, and how he finishes blocks is what captures the attention of coaches- not to mention his quickness and flexibility, which can be rare when it comes to players of his size.
With these strengths and possibilities of going to a big time program leaves a lot of room for improvement.
"I need to work on getting stronger," he said. "It has never been a problem before, but after comparing myself to collegiate athletes, it is something I need to do."
Gustafson walked away from his junior football season with rankings and awards. He made the all district team as the only offensive lineman, as well as the 1st team All Junior Team for Texas.
"I want to be very open minded in the recruiting process," said Gustafson. "I can't narrow it down yet. I don't know enough about each school and I want to build relationships with each of the coaching staffs."
When it comes to relationships, it could be one of the main deciding factors for Gustafson. Coming from a high school team with close ties and a family feel, he is hoping to find a college program with a similar vibe.
"The relationship with the staff is very important to me. One thing at the top of my checklist is to have a good relationship with the coach. I have a great relationship with my coach now, and would like to carry that on," he said.
The growing list of offers gives Gustafson a lot to think about in the next year. Arkansas, SMU, Purdue, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Baylor, Clemson, and Oklahoma are all wanting a piece of Gustafson. Newly added to the list are Michigan (as of Tuesday night, Feb. 7th), Ole Miss, Oklahoma State, and Nebraska (from Wednesday, Feb. 8th).
With all these offers on the table, a busy schedule arises for Gustafson and his family. Upcoming Junior Days and visits are in the near future, though he has already gotten to see several potential choices.
Gustafson has been to watch a good number of the teams in action such as SMU, TCU, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma.
"I didn't get a chance to speak with the TCU coaches while I was there," Gustafson continued. "When I went to Texas Tech, it was a drive, but well worth it. I got a good look around the campus. It was cool to go to the Texas A&M game when they played Texas," he said. "I have grown up going to watch them, and it was really cool to be close to all the action on the field. I've spoken with the coaches one on one, but I missed their Junior Day."
Gustafson was pleased to talk about his encounter with the Oklahoma coaching staff last time he was there. He told the story with a smile.
"Oklahoma was really cool," he continued. I was invited to Junior Day by the offensive line coach. In the morning I went into Coach Stoops' office and he greeted me with a grin, and then offered me."
Gustafson made sure to comment on a specific aspect that separated the Oklahoma coaching staff from others.
"A lot of schools are known to pressure you into a decision, but I really appreciated the fact that that Oklahoma coaches weren't like that," said Gustafson. "We spoke with the offensive line coach a lot," he said. "My mom really liked him."
Baylor will be a contributor as well; Gustafson has close contacts that were very thrilled about their program.
"I met the head coach and offensive line coach for Baylor," he said. "We talked for awhile. I really like the strength program there, its well known. And Baylor is just a great school all around."
Though he has already seen several schools, he wants to give every program an equal opportunity to win him over. Junior Day invites are certainly not insufficient for him. Schools such as Kansas State, West Virginia, Stanford, Notre Dame, and Clemson (who's Junior Day invite came side by side with an offer), are all hoping to get Gustafson on their campus. He explained that as much as he wishes to go to all of them, choices have to be made, and financially that would be extremely difficult to make work.
For now, plans to attend Arkansas's Junior Day (weekend of Feb. 10th) as well as Oklahoma State's (February 18th), are the only plans that have been solidified.
Edited by National Analyst Greg Powers