Gonzales stands tall at UT camp

Even before the 40-yard dashes and all of the assorted agility drills commenced at the recent University of Tennessee senior-to-be football camp, one player managed to stand out from the crowd.

That would be Robbie Gonzales of Coffee County High School. At 6 feet 8 inches and 320 pounds, he made everyone else look small. And he's still a growing boy. He won't turn 18 until October.

"I was normal-sized until fourth grade, then I started growing," he said. "Ever since fourth grade I've been taller than everybody else. By fifth grade I was about 5-7 or 5-8."

Gonzales used his imposing size to earn second-team all-state recognition as an offensive tackle last fall. He also garnered all-area and all-region honors.

Prior to the UT camp, Gonzales attended Middle Tennessee State's camp. In addition to the Vols and Blue Raiders, he says he is interested in checking out the football programs at Memphis and Notre Dame.

Being an in-state youngster from Manchester, Gonzales would like to play for the Vols if they deem him worthy of a scholarship offer. He attended two Tennessee home games last season – LSU and Memphis – and says he'll never forget the atmosphere at Neyland Stadium on those two Saturday afternoons.

"It was crazy," he recalled.

Gonzales, who also played nose guard for Coffee County High last fall, says he has no idea what his statistics were for last season. He believes his best bet for early playing time in college will be at offensive tackle. Despite his heft, he was agile enough to be the starting center for his high school's basketball team last winter.

He spends little time on hobbies or outside interests, noting that he prefers "just working out in football and basketball."

A man of few words, Gonzales described the UT camp as "nice." When asked which part of it he enjoyed most, he replied: "I liked the whole thing." Asked to pinpoint the strength of his game, he answered: "I'm not sure."

Still, Gonzales is quite sure he'll have to upgrade his pass-protection skills in order to play at the collegiate level.

"I need to work on that," he said.

Gonzales reports a 345-pound bench press but isn't sure what his time is in the 40-yard dash.

Of course, at offensive tackle you don't have to move very fast ... so long as you keep the defensive end moving with you.

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