Illini Make Inroads With Florida Tackle

High school football teams in the South enjoy many benefits by having spring football. The extra practice time is huge in terms of improving overall skill level. It is also beneficial because college coaches can watch players during their spring evaluation period. It allows them to discover players like Blake Fromang.

Blake Fromang is an offensive tackle at Lake Highland Preparatory in Orlando, Florida. He now has at least 15 offers from quality colleges including Illinois. But until recently, he had minimal college interest. To say the least, he is overwhelmed by the sudden attention.

"All these offers came during spring football. I haven't calmed down, so I haven't had a chance to put everything together in my mind. But I'm getting there.

"I went from not getting any looks at all to all these offers. I don't know what happened. I had a good spring."

He was especially surprised by the Illinois offer.

"I'm really excited about it. I wasn't expecting it at all. It came from nowhere because most of the offers I've gotten have been from the South."

Illini assistant coach Joe Gilbert recruits the Orlando area and discovered Fromang this spring.

"I haven't had a chance to get acquainted yet because I haven't had time. Everything's moving so fast with all these offers and coaches plus school. I haven't had time to settle down and get everything in perspective yet.

"I'm in the summer now, so I'm trying to sort through these visits, meet the coaches and get a feel for every school. Then I'll make my decision from there. I'm gonna take a couple trips the end of June, and I'm planning on seeing Illinois in July."

Fromang has experience as an offensive lineman.

"When I was younger, I played defensive line. But when I got to high school they switched me to tackle. Since my sophomore year, I've been the starting left tackle.

"I think I'm pretty good at my pass blocking. I need to work on my run blocking footwork a little bit. But it's nothing I can't change with effort. I'll get better at it as I work on it more."

Left tackles must have the quickness to thwart the rush of speedy defensive ends. Fromang is not intimidated by the prospect.

"Lake Highland is not that big. But I've gone against some great kids like Aaron Lynch, who's at Notre Dame right now. He was the #3 defensive end in the nation when he was in high school. He was amazing. College will be new and challenging, but it shouldn't be too over my head."

Like many tall, rangy linemen, the 6'-8", 280 pounder has trouble gaining weight and strength.

"That's very true. You're exactly right. I'm not done growing yet. If I gain another inch or two, I'll look skinny again. Maintaining weight is tough when you're taller. And long arms make it tough to get the reps during weight training. I just turned 17 a few days ago."

The likely Business major has a good feel for what he wants out of his college experience.

"I really want to connect with the coaching staff. That's why I hope to visit and get a good feel for them. I want to go to a school with good academics because when football is over, then you have to get a job and support your family. I want a good degree from that college. I want the atmosphere around the college to feel like home. I guess I want a warm atmosphere."

Fromang wants to give every school an equal chance, so it is easy to understand why it might be awhile before he makes a college commitment.

"I'm not gonna make a list of favorites. I can't make a list of top 10 right now because I haven't seen any of them. That wouldn't be fair. I can't give a specific time when I will make my decision. I'm not really sure."

Despite his height, Fromang realized early on that basketball wasn't his sport.

"I tried basketball, but it got away from me. I hit a point where I could be good at basketball and good at football, or I could be great at football if I focus all my time into one thing. Basketball would take up too much time. I figure a 6'-8" football player is the same as a 7'-0" basketball player."

He has tried track and weight lifting in high school also, but football is his best ticket for the future.

"I did a little weight lifting, but it wasn't for me. I threw the discus in track. It was my first year, so I didn't do very well because my technique isn't very good. I'm better in football, let's say that."

Lake Highland was good in 2010 and may be even better in 2011.

"We went 9-3. We lost to Island Coast, the #3 team in the nation. Their running back committed to Florida State I think. And their whole defensive line is going to Division I.

"This spring, we played an 8-A team, and we're a 4-A team. We beat them by 27 points. We have to get our young offensive line ready, but other than that I think we're gonna have a successful year."

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