You know a player is something special when people are constantly talking up that player as junior. And when that player happens to be an offensive tackle, then you know he has to be something really special. But when you argue whether that player is the best at his position in the country, then you definitely have someone who is a special talent.
J.B. Shugarts (6-7, 295, 5.15) of Klein, Texas is all of the above. Blessed with great talent, Shugarts put on a show at the Scout.com junior combine and was put on the first-team all-combine unit there. It is hard to get J.B. to talk about himself and I didn't get any stats out of him, but if you watch any film at all of him then you know he must have 20 pancake blocks or more a game and grade out high because his man is never makes a tackle.
Shugarts was one of the top prospects to attend Oklahoma's Junior Day on Saturday and without question he stood out. And according to the prized lineman, the Sooners stood out as well.
"I had a great time," said Shugarts. "It was great just getting to see coach (Bob) Stoops again and getting to talk to him a lot, and Coach (James) Patton. I had a fun at the game (OU-Texas Tech). It was a great game with a great atmosphere. Everybody was going crazy."
Shugarts was in Norman back in the summer for an unofficial visit, so he was already familiar with the OU campus.
"I was up there in the summer for about three days with Justin (Johnson)," said Shugarts. "I got to see a lot of the campus and get to know a lot of the coaches and meet everybody. That first visit was more like one-on-one because Justin and I were the only people there. This time it was a little bit different, because there were so many people there. We actually went in early before the junior day started and I had a one-on-one meeting with coach Stoops and coach Patton. I did that the whole time last time so my visit this time was really about the same."
It is apparent that Shugarts has already developed a pretty good relationship with coach Stoops and coach Patton.
"Coach Stoops is a great guy. He is easy to talk to just like coach Patton," said Shugarts. "They are real down to earth and are really nice people."
It is no secret that Shugarts and Johnson are good friends. They often talk about where they might go to school, so it was no surprise to the big man where the skill guy was going.
"I knew he was going to do that for some time," said Shugarts on Johnson's commitment. "I knew that he was going to go to Oklahoma. I was really happy for him because now he knows where he is going. The OU coaches were very happy, but I think they were somewhat shocked that he did it so early. I think they kind of already had a good feeling that he was going to go there."
Shugarts is extremely confident not only in his own abilities, but in those around him as well. Most athletes today can't or won't talk about other athlete, but Shugarts enjoys being around other top players and he is not afraid to sing their praises as well.
"I really enjoyed talking with Ben Habern (OL, Liberty Christian, Texas) and he is a real nice guy," said Shugarts. "I also talked to Stephen Good (OL, Paris, Texas). We talked a lot about football. He is about to make a decision and I think it is going to be pretty soon (OU lean or UT). I am good friends with a bunch of different guys. I am good friends with Justin and Sam McDuffie (RB, Cypress Cy-Fair, Texas) and guys like Kyle Long. So I have friends going all over the place. I also have a friend who goes up to Michigan and he plays on the offensive line there. I am also good friends with Ryan Mallett (QB) who is going to Michigan. I know people all over."
Shugarts is going to be one of the most highly recruited offensive linemen of 2008, but he is way ahead of the game as he already has a top six.
"Right now I am not going to hold back and keep it a secret," said Shugarts. "When I am 100 percent sure where I want to go, then I will announce. But I am not going to be someone who has a particular time to announce. I am considering OU, Texas, Florida, LSU, Michigan and Ohio State. I have been to all those schools unofficially, and those are the schools I have the most interest in."
So Oklahoma has made the final six, but what does Shugarts really think of the Sooners.
"They are one of my big-time schools by far. I like the fact they are one of the closest schools to my home among those six," said Shugarts. "LSU is about four hours and OU is five to six, while Texas is about three. So it is pretty close to my home. That is another positive thing I like about OU. My dad works in Dallas sometimes so when he does he would be close to OU."
Distance isn't the only factor that Shugarts is going to consider in making his decision.
"I want to play for a team that is always contending for a National Championship," said Shugarts. "I want to play for a team where the coaches are not going to leave, and I want to go to a school with good academics. I want to be able to get along with everybody and feel comfortable. I want to make sure I get along with the coaches real well. I think I can play in any style of offense. I think I can run block and pass block equally well. I like zone blocking, but the style of offense doesn't really matter. We run block a lot because we run the wing-T, but I have quick feet and I can pass block pretty well. I can play guard too and I am really good at pulling. I think I can play anywhere along the line, but I have a tackle's body."
Shugarts can bench 335 pounds, but he admits he hasn't maxed out in the squat in a long time. This summer Shugarts hopes to go to the Florida Saturday Night Lights camp and to the Oklahoma camp as well to work with Coach Patton. What may cut down on some of Shugarts' camp activity will be summer school as he works to get his academics on schedule to graduate early, even though he has not decided if that is what he wants to do at this time.
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