Eastern Arizona junior college offensive lineman eyes possible return to the Southeast.

Mississippi State is in the market for several offensive lineman in the 2017 recruiting cycle. A big name on the Bulldog recruiter radar both literally and figuratively is Eastern Arizona giant Matthew Tanner (6-7, 345). Tanner currently holds an offer from Mississippi State and a few others, but another SEC program was setting the early recruiting pace for Tanner.

"My high school coach is pretty good friends with Florida's head coach, Coach (Jim) McElwain," Matthew Tanner explained. "I was talking to them when I was coming out of high school. I wasn't going to qualify and my coach was trying to find a place for me to go play on the junior college level and they told him that Eastern (Arizona) would be a good place.

"I haven't really heard from them since I have been here though. I haven't heard anything really. I am just looking at all of my options now."

A quartet of programs closer to home than Tanner's current base of operations in Thatcher, Arizona have extended offers. Georgia State, Louisiana-Monroe, Mississippi State and UAB are all early tenders for the rising JuCo sophomore.

"I am excited about all of these offers that I have," Tanner said. "One of the main reasons, I went to junior college was to put myself in a position to get the opportunity to play major college football."

One of Tanner's current options holds a favored status as the spring evaluation period kicks off in earnest for the Jacksonville, Florida product.

"Mississippi State is my leader right now," Tanner said. "I really like Coach (John) Hevesy. We have talked a few times and he told me that he was impressed with how I could move for a guy my size. He told me that I was the kind of offensive lineman that he was looking for.

"We have a good relationship and he has developed a lot of good players over the years.  I am looking forward to visiting the campus and getting to learn more about things there.

"It's a chance to play in the SEC and that's something that I have always hoped to do."

While the Bulldogs hold the top spot, Tanner is not quite ready to end his recruitment and declare his college destination just yet.

"I am going to take my time with everything," Tanner said. "I am not sure what all offers I am going to get, so I am going to wait until some time around the end of the season before I make a decision. I am working hard to be ready for my season and I want to see how things go. I played a good bit last year, but I am expecting to play a lot more this year. 

"It's still early and I still have some thinking to do. I will probably take a couple of visits and then make my decision. I am going to graduate in December, so I am working hard to do all of the things I need to do, so I can enroll at my new school in January."

Tanner attended Bishop Snyder High School in Jacksonville, Florida before enrolling at Eastern Arizona College where he helped the Gila Monsters to a solid season that included an upset win over then #2 Snow as well as a playoff berth.

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