Although he is ranked as one of the top lineman prospects in Ohio and among the top 50 players in the entire nation by just about every recruiting service, Warren (Ohio) Harding offensive tackle Korey Stringer has a hard time accepting that he's one of the best at his position.
"I don't see myself as being that good yet," he said. "Some guys will tell you how good they are when they haven't done anything. I know I need some work. From last year, I see a lot of things that I've improved on.
"A lot of stuff from last year was a shock. I was a defensive player as a sophomore and then I moved over to offense. Last year was basically a learning year. I have to work more on my feet, my steps and all that. Once I get that down, I'll consider myself a good player."
Although Stringer tries to downplay his abilities, his high school head coach, Phil Annarella, makes it plain how good he feels the senior tackle is.
"Everything you've heard about him is true," Annarella said. "The kid will be a Division I college player when this season is done and I have no doubt that he will be successful at that level."
One of the reasons for Annarella's praise is the way Stringer took to playing offense. It took some adjustment, but being in the middle of every play is something the 6-5, 290-pound Stringer now enjoys.
"You get contact every play," he said. "If you sit back and you're maybe a defensive back, you don't have to hit every play. But if you're on the line, you have to hit someone every time. And you have to be ready to hit, too."
Another thing Stringer is ready for is an anticipated crunch of college recruiters meeting with him in the coming months. The recruiting hasn't become a headache yet, but that's because he says he has a way to deflect most of the calls.
"It's not necessarily a grind," Stringer said. "I have most of the college coaches that call go through Coach Annarella. I just get the letters. They ask him the questions about me and he tells them.
"It's going to be basically me and my parents making the decision. I'll have the information on the schools and then I'll sit down with my parents and we'll decide."
Giving the calls to Annarella also serves another purpose.
"They aren't to call him until after the season," the Warren Harding coach said. "If they called him, he'd be inundated with calls and wouldn't be able to concentrate on his schoolwork or on the season he has ahead of him."
Stringer has indicated that he will probably not have his visits set up until somewhere near the end of the football season. He doesn't want to rush into something that will be one of the biggest decisions of his life.
He has a list, he said, with schools in no formal order, that "keeps floating every day." Among the schools Stringer mentioned were Ohio State, Michigan, Pittsburgh, Tennessee and Georgia Tech.
While he wants to major in marketing, with an eye on sales in the future, he has not set any criteria as far as choosing a school — except maybe one.
"Right now, I'm just looking for somewhere where I can play soon," Stringer said. "Not necessarily next year, but in the near future. I need to pick a place that will be best for me in all areas, not just athletics or academics. It has to be both or I won't go there."
Stringer understands that Ohio State has not been able to sign many offensive linemen during the past two years. And since he is rated by many as the state's top line prospect, he does have an interest in the Buckeyes and has already started to familiarize himself with the school.
"They look good," Stringer said. "I went down to the spring game and I met some of the players. Most of the players seemed close, and they seemed to like the environment. It struck me as a tight-knit group, for the most part."
But he quickly added that he was a long way from choosing a college. He said he also is a long way from predicting stardom in the NFL, as some have already forecast for him.
"If (the NFL) happens, it happens," he said. "I'm not dictating my success on whether I make it to the pros. I'll work hard in college, and if that leads to the pros, then that's great. But right now, I'm not planning on it.
"Too many people put everything into making it to the pros, and then when they don't, what do they have? Nothing."
Thinking about college and the pros are the last things on Stringer's mind at the moment. He is currently going through practice for the upcoming season, something that takes up most of his remaining summer days.
Despite the fact his team is the defending Division I state champion, Stringer hasn't put any grandiose plans into effect for the upcoming season. Rather, he plans on taking a simpler approach.
"I'm just going to do everything I can help the team," he said. "If I do everything I can, that's it. I can't set goals for everyone else. You have to do all you can do for your team. If we win a state title, that's great. But I'm not going to say we'll do it, because it depends on how everyone comes together."
THE STRINGER FILE
NAME — Korey Stringer
HIGH SCHOOL — Warren (Ohio) Harding
POSITION — Offensive tackle
HEIGHT, WEIGHT — 6-5, 290 pounds
BENCH PRESS — 350 pounds
40-YARD DASH TIME — 5.1 seconds
GRADE-POINT AVERAGE — 2.4
COLLEGE ENTRANCE EXAMS — Scored 21 on ACT
VITAL STATISTICS — Named one of the top 50 players in the nation in the preseason by USA Today, Stringer is expected to be the focal point of Harding's line. Opened huge holes last year and more of the same is expected from him. Good footwork and fine upper body strength are just two of the many attributes Stringer possesses, and while he believes he is a better pass blocker, his run blocking skills are also very good. Played nose tackle for two years, before moving to offense last season.
COACH'S COMMENT — "Korey is a great player, he's a top Division I prospect and he's being recruited by everybody in the country. Korey's going to have a great season, we're not worried about that. We're more concerned with getting him a supporting cast. He's a great kid off the field, too, very nice to everybody. When he's on the field, though, you don't want to mess with him." — Warren Harding head coach Phil Annarella
HOBBIES — Reading, listening to music, wrestling.
SCHOOLS INTERESTED IN — Considering Ohio State, Michigan, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech and several others.
Recruiting Flashback: Korey Stringer
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