IN THE HUDDLE: Robert Balkunas

While some people who evaluate talent are new to finding hidden gems in the Sunshine State, www.floridakids.us has been doing it for over three decades, and while others are off at the beach and at family picnics this time of year, we are at camps and combines coming up with these gems!

During the summer and into the season, 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: Robert Balkunas
POSITION: OG/NT
SCHOOL: Boca Raton Community High School
HEIGHT: 6-0
WEIGHT: 290
40 SPEED: 5.15
HEAD COACH: Rick Swain
www.floridakids.us Pre-Spring Rating: Not rated.

At a time when there's a need for that true nose tackle to once again emerge at the collegiate level, 2005 brings a group of seniors in the Sunshine State that fit that position to a "T".


Robert Balkunas
The essence, as the University of Miami found out with 6-footer Teraz McCray (Pompano Beach Ely), you can get a "smallish" defensive lineman, slap them in the middle and let them take over with superior strength (400 bench), amazing quickness and the ability to be a run-stopper as well as penetrate the first line of offensive protection and put pressure on the quarterback.

Balkunas is a rare package of strength, football skills and intelligence on and off of the field. He is someone who may not pass the eye test because of his size, but will dazzle you with his impressive athletic ability on the field. He also plays on the offensive line.

Having watched him play in two games and two camp settings, he reminds me a lot of McCray. A wide body who can make life tough on any offensive lineman.

As one college recruiter told me when he was evaluating Balkunas: "This is a young man who will step on someone's campus and simply dominate. "The very fact that he has that rare combination of speed and strength at that position makes you believe that he will be a player for years to come."



STRENGTHS: On the offensive side of the ball, he moves out quickly and often overpowers (48 pancake blocks) the defense. But let‘s talk about his strength. This is a young man who was born to be a quality defensive nose tackle.

Watching him last year, you can see his quickness and overpowering strength from the first [play you watch. Going against a quality tackle and a very good center, it amazed me how quick off the ball and how impressive Balkunas was from the first play. This is someone with a motor that never stops.

There was this play in the middle of the game where he completely stopped a screen play, reading it before it ever got started. The quarterback did manage to get the ball off, but as the running back danced around trying to look for running room, Balkunas caught the speedy runner from behind.

WHAT HE NEEDS TO WORK ON: Pass rush. While he gets to the quarterback and often penetrates into the offensive backfield, he needs to understand that when you are not 6-4 or 6-5, coming in with your hands up is almost a waste of energy. He needs to play lower. That‘s a part of his game that is truly his strength. He needs to stay with it!

OVERALL: While many analysts will be quick to write Balkunas off because of his size, let me remind you that he has the strength, quickness, athletic ability and knowledge to play at a Division 1A level.

COLLEGES ON THE HORIZON: The array of schools range from Miami to Florida, Louisville, Pittsburgh, NC State, and Georgia Tech.

COLLEGES ON THE HORIZON: While there is a need for him to get stronger and gain weight, I still am convinced that here is a football player who has the opportunity to play Division 1A college football, and from talking to college coaches who have watched him play, they will be keeping a close eye on his progress throughout the season.

Get IN THE HUDDLE with some more of Florida's emerging stars:
IN THE HUDDLE: MICHAEL GUILFORD - BLOUNTSTOWN
IN THE HUDDLE: JOSEPH MYERS - MIAMI PALMETTO
IN THE HUDDLE: DEVIN JACKSON - KISSIMMEE POINCIANA
IN THE HUDDLE: MARK ALLEN - ST. CLOUD HARMONY
IN THE HUDDLE: DARON LOVE – PALM BEACH GARDENS DWYER
IN THE HUDDLE: CORY MATHIS – LAKELAND GEORGE JENKINS
IN THE HUDDLE: MARKIHE ANDERSON – FORT MYERS DUNBAR
IN THE HUDDLE: TONY WILSON – DAYTONA BEACH MAINLAND
IN THE HUDDLE: TERRY WILLIAMS – MIAMI CENTRAL
IN THE HUDDLE: JAVARRIS JAMES – IMMOKALEE
IN THE HUDDLE: IAN EVANS – CLEARWATER COUNTRYSIDE
IN THE HUDDLE: TERRON SANDERS – BRADENTON SOUTHEAST
IN THE HUDDLE: DANIEL WENGER – FORT LAUDERDALE ST. THOMAS AQUINAS
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
IN THE HUDDLE: CHARLES DEAS – LAUDERDALE LAKES BOYD ANDERSON
IN THE HUDDLE: DONALD BOWENS – ST. PETERSBURG
IN THE HUDDLE: ROBERT LOVE - PAHOKEE
IN THE HUDDLE: CAZ PIUROWSKI – LAND O'LAKES
IN THE HUDDLE: STERLIN JAMES – SPARR NORTH MARION
IN THE HUDDLE: JOHN WARE – FORT LAUDERDALE CARDINAL GIBBONS
IN THE HUDDLE: MARKEVIOUS POWELL – ORLANDO EVANS
IN THE HUDDLE: BILLY LOWE - LAKELAND
IN THE HUDDLE: JAVON HILL – MIAMI MONSIGNOR PACE
IN THE HUDDLE: CODY CLINTON – BOCA RATON
IN THE HUDDLE: JARED MARTIN – DAVIE WESTERN
IN THE HUDDLE: COLIN MCCARTHY – CLEARWATER CENTRAL CATHOLIC
IN THE HUDDLE: DONTAE JONES – ORLANDO EVANS
IN THE HUDDLE: DAMON PIFER – GREEN COVE SPRINGS CLAY
IN THE HUDDLE: CHRIS SORCE - PACE
IN THE HUDDLE: SHOMARI GRANT - HIALEAH
IN THE HUDDLE: DARRELL ROSEMAN - DUNEDIN
IN THE HUDDLE: JAMES POE – ORLANDO FREEDOM
IN THE HUDDLE: RYAN ELLIS – PONTA VEDRA BEACH NEASE
IN THE HUDDLE: COURTNEY JONES: PENSACOLA
IN THE HUDDLE: BRYAN THOMAS - ZEPHYRHILLS
IN THE HUDDLE: JORDAN DALRYMPLE - OVIEDO
IN THE HUDDLE: PRESTON PARKER – DELRAY BEACH ATLANTIC
IN THE HUDDLE: SABBATH JOSEPH – MIAMI CENTRAL
IN THE HUDDLE: RYAN KHAWLY – HOMESTEAD SOUTH DADE
IN THE HUDDLE: BRANDON JAMES – ST. AUGUSTINE
IN THE HUDDLE: KEITH HOUSTON – IVES ESTATES DR. MICHAEL KROP
IN THE HUDDLE: REGGIE ODOM - DELAND
IN THE HUDDLE: C.J. SPILLER – LAKE BUTLER UNION COUNTY
IN THE HUDDLE: RILEY COOPER – CLEARWATER CENTRAL CATHOLIC
IN THE HUDDLE: JAMES JAMISON – STARKE BRADFORD COUNTY
IN THE HUDDLE: DESMOND GEE - MADISON COUNTY
IN THE HUDDLE: RICKY GARY - PAHOKEE
IN THE HUDDLE: LAURANCE MARIUS – KEY WEST
IN THE HUDDLE: KENRICK ELLIS – GREENACRES JOHN I. LEONARD
IN THE HUDDLE: RICHARD JACKSON – CLERMONT EAST RIDGE
IN THE HUDDLE: LABRANDON GLOVER - PENSACOLA

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