It didn't take long for college coaches to find out about J.B. Shugarts (6-foot-7, 285 pounds) The standout offensive lineman probably didn't need to take a tour of colleges last summer, but he wanted to take a look at some of the top programs that were recruiting him.
"I went to Michigan's football camp. I was up there for five days, and then I went to the Ohio State advanced senior camp," Shugarts said of his exposure to college football programs. "I liked both of them a lot. Ohio State was more of a big city atmosphere. They had brand new facilities. Michigan was more of a small town atmosphere. I liked both of them though.
"I went to Texas A&M and Texas also. Texas A&M was the first school to verbally offer me when I was a sophomore. I went there because I've grown up in Texas and I just wanted to go up and see it because a lot of my friends are going up there. I liked it up the as well because everything revolves around the college.
"I liked Texas a lot, it's a great school," he said. "They were just national champions.
"I didn't know I was going to go up to Oklahoma, but one of my friends has a cousin that's a wide receiver up there. We went up there for the weekend, and I got to meet all the coaches. I met coach Stoops, coach Heupel and the offensive line coach.
"I went to the Florida camp. They offered me when I was a sophomore too," Shugarts explained. "They invite their top 50 players in the nation and then they have an open registration. It's called ‘Friday Night Lights'. The camp was from 9:00 p. m. to 12:00 at night. It was outside at night in ‘The Swamp', which is cool. They put music on and fans would come out and watch us. They had some really good players there. Torrey Davis, Terrance Toliver, Willie Corn, and Stephen Garcia. There were a lot of good player there. I was one of the only sophomores there and I had a really good camp. It was a lot of fun.
"I went to Penn State first," Shugarts recalled. "I met the offensive line coach, coach Bill Kenney and Jay Paterno and several other PSU coaches.. I saw all the facilities… Penn State was great too."
All of the Shugarts' travels will serve him well. He will need to draw on his experiences when he needs to sift through all of his scholarship offers. Ohio State, Florida, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Nebraska, Ole Miss, Miami, LSU, Duke, Baylor, Virginia, Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Boston College, Michigan and the University of Houston have already provided J.B. with a written offer. One school that isn't in that group and also a school he did not visit this summer is Notre Dame.
"I only want to go to two camps this summer," Shugarts explained. "I was going to try to go to Notre Dame and LSU. I went down to LSU this summer and I really liked it. It was a nice college town.
"I've never been to Notre Dame, but I've heard about all the tradition they have and I've always liked to watch them on TV. Charlie Weis was one of the best coaches in the NFL and he's one of the best coaches in college football.
"I've gotten a couple hand-written letters from Charlie Weis. He came down to our spring training. I know he's talked to my coach, but I haven't asked him what coach Weis has said. They've sent me mail and I've talked to one of their coaches on the phone. I've sent them my highlight tape."
Although the Irish coaches will look at his the tape that Shugarts sent, it is likely they have seen plenty of film on him. Irish freshman offensive lineman Chris Stewart also played for Klein.
"I've talked to Chris a couple times and he said he liked it a lot," Shugarts said of his conversations with Stewart. "When he first went up there I called him on the phone to see how he liked it. He was just down here at our last game because they had an off week. He came to our game. He looks really good compared to where he was."
There are a lot of big kids that play high school football, but there is always something that differentiates the elite players from the average high school players.
"Most linemen are too interested in getting big," Shugarts said. "It's good to be big, but too many guys are worried about getting big and strong. They don't think about being athletic, being able to move, being flexible, being faster or being quicker. They just get too caught up in lifting weights and eating. They don't think about stretching or running.