IN THE HUDDLE: Daniel Wenger

You can look at offensive lineman at the high school level and try and predict their future, but seldom does one jump at you and scream potential and bright future like this Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas standout!

During the spring and into the summer, www.floridakids.us will bring you our IN THE HUDDLE segments with football players throughout the state of Florida.

These are similar to the evaluations we pass on to the hundreds of colleges who visit our website, call us on the phone and correspond via e-mail.

Here is another top football player to keep an eye on this season – and beyond.

PLAYER: Daniel Wenger
POSITION: Center
SCHOOL: Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas
HEIGHT: 6-3.5
WEIGHT: 280
40 SPEED: 5.25
HEAD COACH: George Smith
www.floridakids.us Pre-Spring Rating: 40

In the business of recruiting, the ones who survive and gain acceptance across the nation by those who follow high school football, are those who come up with an evaluation that catches everyone off guard. One that earns the credibility over a period of time and not for just a few years.

The evaluation that you make when the player is either just starting out – or perhaps after watching over the course of a year. Those are the ones people tend to remember.

For those who follow what I say, they all know the way I feel about this young man. Having watched somewhere in the neighborhood of eight career starts, I have been sold that this is the one lineman who is simply a "can't miss" prospect.

While I don't cover the nation, but have a pretty good idea of what's out there, I had said after last season ended, that of all the offensive linemen in the Class of 2006, this would be the first player to lineup in the NFL! Outrageous in nature, it's something that I strongly believe in

While I do comprehend that judging and predicting an offensive linemen's future is perhaps the hardest of any position on the field, I have that gut instinct. The one that has predicted, two to three years in advance, the future of over 5,000 football players over the past 33 years.

This spring, while I told just about every college coach I deal with, which probably numbers in the 100s, I started to get feedback from some top programs across the country, and that information was all favorable.

"That young man will play this game for a long time," one coach said. "He has all the tools, which means all he needs to do is just play and everything will take care of itself."

STRENGTHS: Last season, in three different games, and then via a film I obtained, I watched Wenger in some 50 plays. Now, while I did watch against some of the weaker opponents the Raiders went up against, I did check out playoff contests with Delray Beach Atlantic and Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer, as well as a tough matchup with Pompano Beach Ely.

The first thing you notice is the way he has been coached. Forget that he has Sam Young, Marcus Gilbert and Robert Montejo playing along side of him, this is someone who makes his own holes and provides his own pass protection.

Great feet, tremendous strength and the ability to read defenses as well as any high school center I've seen. While many scoff at the idea that he reminds me of former Sanford Seminole and Notre Dame standout Jeff Faine, I say that the Faine I watched in high school had the same instincts and athletic ability.

Against Ely last season, I watched on three straight plays. While Gilbert and Young get plenty of attention, for good reason, here is an athlete who drive blocks even the strongest athlete off the ball.

In the state title game against Lakeland, he was humbled on a few plays by a line that was simply loaded with strength and athletic talent. Whether it was against seniors Logan Irby and Kendrick Stewart or super sophomore John Brown, Wenger more than held his own, but competing against a superior program like Dreadnaughts only help you get to that next level!

WHAT HE NEEDS TO WORK ON: While you would have to work hard to convince me that he isn't the best high school offensive center in the nation, Wenger realizes that in order to succeed at that next level and beyond, weightroom, conditioning and gaining more weight have to be in his vocabulary – year round! Other than that, he is solid!

OVERALL: There has to be something said about a high school football player who competed over5 a four year period at the center position. In this day of playing a number of positions on the line, here is an athlete who will have over 40 starts at a position that colleges seem to fall over the place trying to cement.

There is little doubt that this is a football player who will be an instant success at the next level. He has spent so much time working harder to ensure that he is ready when colleges come calling.

COLLEGES ON THE HORIZON: While his outstanding grades have helped to clear the way for Atlantic Coast academic/athletic institution, Duke, ACC powers Miami and FSU, Southeastern Conference powerhouse Florida as well as Big-12 icon Oklahoma and rebuilding Nebraska have been in the mix as well.

Get IN THE HUDDLE with some more of Florida's emerging stars:
IN THE HUDDLE: DEANDRE MCDANIEL – TALLAHASSEE GODBY
IN THE HUDDLE: ORLANDO FRANKLIN – DELRAY BEACH ATLANTIC
IN THE HUDDLE: TRAVIUS THOMPSON –LAUDERDALE LAKES BOYD ANDERSON
IN THE HUDDLE: BRANDON THOMPKINS –PALM BEACH LAKES
IN THE HUDDLE: JOSH LONG –FORT MYERS
IN THE HUDDLE: DARON ROSE – TAMPA JEFFERSON
IN THE HUDDLE: MICHAEL JOHNSON – WESTON CYPRESS BAY
IN THE HUDDLE: TANNER JONES – CRAWFORDVILLE WAKULLA
IN THE HUDDLE: CHRIS UHRIG – TAMPA JESUIT
IN THE HUDDLE: JOSEPH JACKSON – MIAMI BOOKER T. WASHINGTON
IN THE HUDDLE: SAM YOUNG – FORT LAUDERDALE ST. THOMAS AQUINAS
IN THE HUDDLE: MELVIN PATTERSON – ALACHUA SANTA FE
IN THE HUDDLE: CHANCE ATTAWAY – BLOUNTSTOWN
IN THE HUDDLE: GEORGE ROBINSON – MIAMI CENTRAL
IN THE HUDDLE: TIMOTHY BROWN – MIAMI NORTHWESTERN
IN THE HUDDLE: XAVIER HARRIS – FORT LAUDERDALE
IN THE HUDDLE: DANIEL LINCOLN – OCALA FOREST
IN THE HUDDLE: PATRICK ADOLPHE – DELRAY BEACH ATLANTIC
IN THE HUDDLE: QUINTIN HANCOCK – ST. AUGUSTINE
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IN THE HUDDLE: JAMES POE – ORLANDO FREEDOM
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IN THE HUDDLE: COURTNEY JONES: PENSACOLA
IN THE HUDDLE: BRYAN THOMAS - ZEPHYRHILLS
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IN THE HUDDLE: PRESTON PARKER – DELRAY BEACH ATLANTIC
IN THE HUDDLE: SABBATH JOSEPH – MIAMI CENTRAL
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