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Offensive Line Play


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Last night, I watched American Heritage Plantation play Chaminade-Madonna.  According to their rosters on Maxpreps, below is a breakdown of their starting O-lines.

CM's O-Line

6'1" 280    Senior

6'2" 320    Junior

6'4" 300     Senior  

6'5" 300     Sophomore

6'6" 300  Sophomore

CM also had a 6'2" 270-pound junior playing fullback.

 

AHP's O-Line

6'1" 280     Senior

6'1" 285     Senior

6'2" 315     Sophomore

6'4" 325     Senior

6'6" 295     Junior

 

Despite the enormity of CM's line and a HUGE blocking back, one of the top-rated rb's in the state or possibly the country could do nothing against AHP's athletic D(save one play) and got caught behind the LOS numerous times.  What's wrong with this picture?

I think a problem is that these OL are holding way too much weight and/or don't know how to use their weight effectively.  There is a reason FL's production of top-tier offensive linemen lags disproportionately behind our production of skill players,  and last night's game was a good example.  On one play I remember CM's 320-pound junior lineman trying to pull and this "tiny" AHP D-lineman took him out so easily and put the big young man off balance.  Even if he had not been touched, there is no way he could have helped with that play because he was so slow.

It was a bit shocking to see a "small" school with the line the size of CM's, especially when one considers that 3 of them were underclassmen.  Sophomore linemen weighing 300 or more pounds?  Where are we going folks?  Is the future 350-pound hs O-linemen?  When a 15/16 year old is already 300+ pounds, how much room does he have to grow into his frame?  I mean, is he going to be 400 pounds as a senior in college?  

These kids would be so much more effective down at 250-275 pounds.15-20 years ago, , that's we typically saw, and those O-lineman could pull.  Today, many of these 300-pound lineman I see in FL cannot move effectively enough to handle an athletic DL like we see on many of the top-ranked teams.  Sure, a huge line on a 3A team is going to bully a lot of small school D's.  But it is a completely different ball game when they face an elite D like either of those teams last night displayed. 

IMO, it is greed. People want that "college size" now, rather than let the kids grow into their frames. I guess the justification is that magical college scholarship that awaits.  What coaches and parents do not realize is that what they are doing to these teenagers can have long-term impacts on their health, especially kids of an ethnic background that predisposes them to heart disease, diabetes, etc.  This is not me talking, folks.  I have had this discussion with my cardiologist, who happens to be a big football fan.  "Aw, he'll lean up in college."   The damage can already be done from a health perspective.  All in the name of winning and/or a college scholarship.  

I remember reading an article about NFL linemen who struggle with their weight after their careers.  Their metabolism gets used to holding all that weight and does not like giving it up.  Not too long ago, a lineman might spend 5-10 years out of life at 300 pounds in his career (while in the NFL). Now we have kids who, if they have an NFL career, could be spending 15-20 years (hs, college and pros) at 300 or more pounds. 

Doesn't make a difference?  How about the difference between smoking 5 versus 20 years?  Time of health-risk exposure clearly raises the odds of long-term consequences.  How difficult will it be for someone whose body has been at 300 pounds for 20 years to live the rest of their life at 225?  I would imagine very difficult, except for someone who is extremely disciplined concerning diet and continuing to work out.

I am not saying we should go back to the dinosaur days of 175-pound linemen.  It's all about moderation.  Some coaches are drinking the Kool Aid that they need a 300-pound line to win a state title.  And they are neglecting to educate these kids and parents about the risk involved for some kids to maintain such a weight.

I speak from personal experience on this topic.  Back in college, I had the metabolism that allowed me to hold a lot of weight and still have abs.  I kidded myself thinking because I could see my abs I was healthy.  My blood tests told a different story...revealing major issues with my heart.  I learned the hard way that the "outside" doesn't always tell what is going on inside our bodies.  

 

 

 

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The Tarpons have played with a lot of undersized O-Lines even why back when I played - I played in the NAIA in the 70s, started three years as the smallest OT in the NAIA at 195, and the other OT was one of the largest at 6'8" 285 - my game was about 24 inches off the ground. Then I moved to my HS position my Sr year at guard. Those O-lines above are massive. I saw Carol City when they thumped Charlotte in the State Semi-final game a few years ago with guys that size - but a few had some footwork. 

I agree; you see these great big O-linemen and I marvel how they do it. I've watched three teams big men wear down in three games this season. I could never gain weight, then after football - after 10 years, could never keep it off.  

By the way,  here's a couple of SW FL guys to watch: We play Lehigh next week, who has Richard Young, who they're billing as the Top RB in the nation (see below) they have a LB & C that are getting a lot of attention. 

We have a couple of guys flying below the radar, Sr. Corner TaiVhain Kelly, lockdown corner, return man;  Sr QB John Busha, 6'2" 200lb physical duel threat; 6'2" Sr WR Niqueu Graham;  6'6" So WR John Gamble; he had two of the nicest toe tip TDs I've ever seen in the last three weeks - incredible body control. 

https://www.news-press.com/story/sports/high-school/2020/05/05/football-recruiting-ramps-up-some-southwest-floridas-best/3079153001/

 

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Here's a pertinent article.  It's mindblowing to think of a "normal" sized kid gaining 90 pounds in one year.  Mr Olympia on the biggest anabolic steroid cycle in history would be lucky to put on one third of that in muscle in one year.  

https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2019/10/15/high-school-offensive-linemen-fat-shaming-health-risks-come-with-territory/"

..a couple of interesting quotes from the article.

"His father and coaches taught him the difference between good weight and bad weight."   A doctor taught me that in terms of potential stress on the heart, there is no such thing as "good," excessive weight, whether it is muscle, water or fat.  

"he wasn’t worried about the potential dangers of gaining that much weight so quickly because he didn’t use any supplements."  I'm sure his doctor told him not to worry and I'm sure his heart knows the difference between weight gain with or without supplements.

The misinformation out there about diet is scary.  There are parents and coaches who don't have a clue, but think they do.  I used to know a guy who was the trainer/advisor of numerous Mr Olympia competitors in bodybuilding.  This guy had no academic credentials in physiology, biochemistry, medicine, etc.  Yet these huge guys listened to him religiously concerning their diets and performance-enhancing drug regimens.  One of those guys would eat 5+ pounds of red meat per day.  And many of these guys died or were in terrible shape before age 50.    

Back then, guys used to say there was a "safe" way to do big anabolic steroid stacking regimens...wrong.  Likewise, there is no "safe" way for a kid to gain 90 pounds in one year.   Parents and coaches who think there is are kidding themselves.  It's one  thing for an adult to knowingly accept the risk with their own body.  It's another for a parent or coach to enable this risky behavior with a young person who does not fully understand the potential consequences of what they are doing to their bodies. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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33 minutes ago, OldSchoolLion said:

Here's a pertinent article.  It's mindblowing to think of a "normal" sized kid gaining 90 pounds in one year.  Mr Olympia on the biggest anabolic steroid cycle in history would be lucky to put on one third of that in muscle in one year.  

https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2019/10/15/high-school-offensive-linemen-fat-shaming-health-risks-come-with-territory/"

..a couple of interesting quotes from the article.

"His father and coaches taught him the difference between good weight and bad weight."   A doctor taught me that in terms of potential stress on the heart, there is no such thing as "good," excessive weight, whether it is muscle, water or fat.  

"he wasn’t worried about the potential dangers of gaining that much weight so quickly because he didn’t use any supplements."  I'm sure his doctor told him not to worry and I'm sure his heart knows the difference between weight gain with or without supplements.

The misinformation out there about diet is scary.  There are parents and coaches who don't have a clue, but think they do.  I used to know a guy who was the trainer/advisor of numerous Mr Olympia competitors in bodybuilding.  This guy had no academic credentials in physiology, biochemistry, medicine, etc.  Yet these huge guys listened to him religiously concerning their diets and performance-enhancing drug regimens.  One of those guys would eat 5+ pounds of red meat per day.  And many of these guys died or were in terrible shape before age 50.    

Back then, guys used to say there was a "safe" way to do big anabolic steroid stacking regimens...wrong.  Likewise, there is no "safe" way for a kid to gain 90 pounds in one year.   Parents and coaches who think there is are kidding themselves.  It's one  thing for an adult to knowingly accept the risk with their own body.  It's another for a parent or coach to enable this risky behavior with a young person who does not fully understand the potential consequences of what they are doing to their bodies. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Madison o line  is 260-350 no joke.  Just not over 6'2. 

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Any weight over about 250 lbs. in high school is wasted weight. There's just about no way to get over that weight at high school age without the excess over 250 being fat and/or something the kid can't doesn't yet have the coordination or development to use properly. Playing bigger players at positions that they figure to be able to play in college-but are not yet ready to play now in H.S.-is one of the more obvious causes of the supposedly talent rich factories like STA sometimes losing to teams with less "talent". We consistently see kids about 200 lbs being able to dominate as DL in h.s. because that's often all the weight they need to hang given their excellent quickness. But of course those kids have no chance to get a scholarship to play DL, and so some schools just won't play them at DL no matter. But, those that will play kids like that routinely take advantage of the big, uncoordinated, underdeveloped OLs that have impressive height/weight profiles.

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21 minutes ago, skyway said:

Any weight over about 250 lbs. in high school is wasted weight. There's just about no way to get over that weight at high school age without the excess over 250 being fat and/or something the kid can't doesn't yet have the coordination or development to use properly. Playing bigger players at positions that they figure to be able to play in college-but are not yet ready to play now in H.S.-is one of the more obvious causes of the supposedly talent rich factories like STA sometimes losing to teams with less "talent". We consistently see kids about 200 lbs being able to dominate as DL in h.s. because that's often all the weight they need to hang given their excellent quickness. But of course those kids have no chance to get a scholarship to play DL, and so some schools just won't play them at DL no matter. But, those that will play kids like that routinely take advantage of the big, uncoordinated, underdeveloped OLs that have impressive height/weight profiles.

Madison has them d line . Under 250 has to starters 200 pounds. They been like that for 2 years.  

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1 hour ago, skyway said:

Any weight over about 250 lbs. in high school is wasted weight. There's just about no way to get over that weight at high school age without the excess over 250 being fat and/or something the kid can't doesn't yet have the coordination or development to use properly. Playing bigger players at positions that they figure to be able to play in college-but are not yet ready to play now in H.S.-is one of the more obvious causes of the supposedly talent rich factories like STA sometimes losing to teams with less "talent". We consistently see kids about 200 lbs being able to dominate as DL in h.s. because that's often all the weight they need to hang given their excellent quickness. But of course those kids have no chance to get a scholarship to play DL, and so some schools just won't play them at DL no matter. But, those that will play kids like that routinely take advantage of the big, uncoordinated, underdeveloped OLs that have impressive height/weight profiles.

Well said.  In college, these huge linemen on the Power 5 teams can all move their feet pretty well. But in hs, I see a fairly large percentage of these huge kids who just aren't there in terms of footwork/mobility. 

For a hs team, in many cases, I really can't see where having an O-line with a 275-pound average vs a 300-pound average is going to make a huge difference.  In college, more so.  Unlike in college, where Power 5 D-linemen all typically have a lot of size, a lot of hs teams I see do not have bulky D-linemen across the board .  

There's an argument that colleges want kids to be able to be ready to play their freshman year.  A 275-pound lineman is likely not going to start his freshman year at a Power 5 school because he will need time to beef up.  But many of these 300+ kids are not going to start either.  They might have the size to do so, but they will need time to develop their skills and learn how to use their weight.  So, I really don't see where having this additional weight is giving many hs kids an advantage in college other than "looking" impressive. 

How may FL hs offensive linemen start at Power 5 schools each year?  Not that many.  

   

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Check out below...CM's O-line, on average, is the same size as an NFL O-line in the 90's.

 

Average Weights/Heights of Parade All-American High School Linemen over the Decades 

1966 Range 220-275 lbs, 5"11-6'5"     Average = 232 lbs, 6'2"

1977 Range 225-285 lbs, 6'2'-6'7"     Average = 251 lbs, 6'4"

1987 Range 255-285 lbs, 6'4"-6'8"     Average = 272 lbs, 6'5"

1997 Range 280-319 lbs, 6'4"-6'8"     Average = 295 lbs, 6'6"

2005 Range 300-340 lbs, 6''2"-6'7"     Average = 320 lbs, 6'5" 

2017 Range 305-350 lbs, 6'4"-6'7"     Average = 319 lbs, 6'6"

 

Average Weights/Heights of NFL Offensive Lineman over the Decades 

1920's 6'0", 210 lbs

1930's 6'1" 220 lbs

1940's 6'1" 220 lbs

1950's 6'2" 235 lbs

1960's 6'3" 250 lbs

1970's 6'3" 255 lbs

1980's 6'4" 275 lbs

1990's 6'4" 300lbs

2000's 6'4" 315 lbs

2015 6'5" 315 lbs

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Back in 2018, out of 320 Power 5 starting offensive linemen, only 14 came from FL high schools. No offensive linemen from Miami-Dade, Palm Beach or Hillsborough counties served as a starting offensive lineman at any Power 5 schools outside Florida that year.  This thread from a couple of years ago did a deep dive on the topic.

 

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The majority of D1 college coaches I have sit down with during the recruiting process are looking for O lineman 6-3 or above for guards and centers. They want offensive tackles to be 6-4 or above. They are looking for long arms and range when it comes to pass protection. They will not even take a look at a kid that is 6-1 or below no matter what the film shows. There is definitely a templet when it come to height. The weight issue is a little different. They look to see if a kid has the body to put more weight on when he gets to college. For kids that have the height but are clearly overweight, they will look more into if they can get the weight off in college with a nutrition plan. Remember these coaches have to take theses kids measurements back to the OC and HC for approval when it comes to offers. I cant tell you how many pictures I have taken for a college coach with a player standing in my office doorway. I feel a college coaches job relies more on how well he can recruit than what drills he runs at practice. 

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8 hours ago, Just A Coach said:

The majority of D1 college coaches I have sit down with during the recruiting process are looking for O lineman 6-3 or above for guards and centers. They want offensive tackles to be 6-4 or above. They are looking for long arms and range when it comes to pass protection. They will not even take a look at a kid that is 6-1 or below no matter what the film shows. There is definitely a templet when it come to height. The weight issue is a little different. They look to see if a kid has the body to put more weight on when he gets to college. For kids that have the height but are clearly overweight, they will look more into if they can get the weight off in college with a nutrition plan. Remember these coaches have to take theses kids measurements back to the OC and HC for approval when it comes to offers. I cant tell you how many pictures I have taken for a college coach with a player standing in my office doorway. I feel a college coaches job relies more on how well he can recruit than what drills he runs at practice. 

I agree.  It likely does not matter how much weight a 6'2" or less hs o-lineman packs on, it is probably not going to make a difference when it comes to getting him a college scholarship.  It might sound cool for a parent or coach to talk about their 300-pound lineman, but like you say, their advancement will be limited unless they have the frame to accompany the weight.  

When it comes to the 6'4" and above kids, I find it is easier to put weight on a kid with a naturally big frame than take it off.  If a kid is 6'4" 280 in hs, he is not likely to have a difficult time putting on 20-40 pounds.  I can't think of many 280-pound hs kids I've known who complain about not be able to put on weight because their metabolism is so fast. 

If a kid is obese throughout hs, his body has gotten used to being in that state and may revolt when asked to exist at a much lesser weight.  If he does not stay on top of things, he will easily balloon back up.  Many of us have probably experienced this phenomenon ourselves!    

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You have to take into account that CM is strictly a sports school that "recruits" and has all those kids either transfer in or go there as freshman just for football.  They are hand picking the biggest lineman from around the county. Same with AHP. So, if those guys went to their home public schools it would be them individually and 4 normal sized HS linemen upfront with them.  Looking at schools like them skew the picture.  Also, the really fat linemen 300+ in HS that go to D1 programs usually end up losing weight or stay about the same, but convert fat to muscle with the legit strength coaches.

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8 hours ago, blystr2002 said:

You have to take into account that CM is strictly a sports school that "recruits" and has all those kids either transfer in or go there as freshman just for football.  They are hand picking the biggest lineman from around the county. Same with AHP. So, if those guys went to their home public schools it would be them individually and 4 normal sized HS linemen upfront with them.  Looking at schools like them skew the picture.  Also, the really fat linemen 300+ in HS that go to D1 programs usually end up losing weight or stay about the same, but convert fat to muscle with the legit strength coaches.

Just curious.  What do you consider a "normal" sized lineman?

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45 minutes ago, OldSchoolLion said:

Just curious.  What do you consider a "normal" sized lineman?

I don't think there is any such thing as a normal sized lineman. Many small schools have OL's that can range from 190-230 and DL's in the 180-210 range, with heights from 5'10" and up. Larger schools may have larger kids, but the elite schools tend to have the big, tall linemen; OL 250-300+ and DL 210-260; 6'3" and up. The elite schools are sought out by the kids that are tall and big; few small schools get the big lineman, and if they do, they rarely have more than one big lineman. 

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On 9/19/2020 at 8:19 PM, skyway said:

Any weight over about 250 lbs. in high school is wasted weight. There's just about no way to get over that weight at high school age without the excess over 250 being fat and/or something the kid can't doesn't yet have the coordination or development to use properly. Playing bigger players at positions that they figure to be able to play in college-but are not yet ready to play now in H.S.-is one of the more obvious causes of the supposedly talent rich factories like STA sometimes losing to teams with less "talent". We consistently see kids about 200 lbs being able to dominate as DL in h.s. because that's often all the weight they need to hang given their excellent quickness. But of course those kids have no chance to get a scholarship to play DL, and so some schools just won't play them at DL no matter. But, those that will play kids like that routinely take advantage of the big, uncoordinated, underdeveloped OLs that have impressive height/weight profiles.

Your assertion that kids cannot get to 300lbs in HS and play very good football is not correct.  Some can and do, with fairly low body fat and have strength that probably do not understand; but most 300lb kids in HS are just overweight and not the type of kids DI schools are interested in, so there is a lot of validity in why you espouse as a general statement.  But some of the big schools have many 300 pounders, especially those schools that bring in kids from all over, and they have very big, very talented O Lines.  Last year, all of the kids on IMG and STA O-Lines were over 300lbs. They all had good feet and could move; which is why were recruited by Power 5 schools.  There is a big difference in having one or two legitimate big kids and having 20-25 Bigs as do IMG and STA have on their rosters, and this year they have just as many on each of those squads.  It's just that some kids are big, can move their feet and are strong, with some benching 450lbs+, squat 600lbs+, and power clean over 350lbs+.  So, though I am for a tough 200 pounder playing with a lot of heart, they too will get pushed around when they play against the better teams.

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5 hours ago, Football Analytics said:

Your assertion that kids cannot get to 300lbs in HS and play very good football is not correct.  Some can and do, with fairly low body fat and have strength that probably do not understand; but most 300lb kids in HS are just overweight and not the type of kids DI schools are interested in, so there is a lot of validity in why you espouse as a general statement.  But some of the big schools have many 300 pounders, especially those schools that bring in kids from all over, and they have very big, very talented O Lines.  Last year, all of the kids on IMG and STA O-Lines were over 300lbs. They all had good feet and could move; which is why were recruited by Power 5 schools.  There is a big difference in having one or two legitimate big kids and having 20-25 Bigs as do IMG and STA have on their rosters, and this year they have just as many on each of those squads.  It's just that some kids are big, can move their feet and are strong, with some benching 450lbs+, squat 600lbs+, and power clean over 350lbs+.  So, though I am for a tough 200 pounder playing with a lot of heart, they too will get pushed around when they play against the better teams.

I suppose I could have worded what I said a bit differently. Rarely can a HS kid manage ~ 300 lbs well. But, even those that can often  struggle to gain much of an advantage over a 200 lb kid that is skilled, has developed in the weight room and is much quicker.  The kids that have Power 5 offers often have them because of what they project to be after another couple of years of development rather than what they are as 17 year-olds.

I think to the point of the original post, it seems some players and coaches think they just HAVE to get the OLs to be ~300 lbs. Doing so means they are good, while being lighter means they are somehow inferior. And that is so often not actually the case! I think there are  a lot of players with scholarships or jobs in pro football that aren't actually any good; they're just what's now considered the right size. And there are others who could be very effective, but that don't get the chance because they are thought to not be the right size.

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I have seen some 300-pound hs o-lineman who could move very well and were pretty impressive.  But how many of those FL hs linemen(excluding IMG players from other states) were able to walk right into starting jobs at Power 5 schools as freshmen or even true sophomores?  Who can name some off the top of their heads from last year's class?  It's not that common.

It would be one thing if having that "extra" weight in hs allowed them to do so, but in most cases, it does not.  And I am not convinced that it is necessary have that extra 30 pounds as a high schooler to succeed at a high school level.   It's not like many high schools have gigantic defensive lines such that a 270-pound o-lineman is going to routinely get pushed around.

The most problematic defenses I see in high schools are the ones that have great speed and a reasonable amount of size.  In last week's AHP v Chaminade games, their big O-lines struggled with the speed of the opposing D's, even though they outsized them quite handily.  I don't care if their lines averaged 325, it would  not have made a difference.  215-pound James Williams of American Heritage was an absolute terror.  Ask the CM O-line.  

Like I said, I think it is, in a manner of speaking, greed.  I think a 280-pound O-lineman in hs has as much long-term potential to succeed in college as the 300-pounder.  He will catch up to the bigger kid in college, assuming he has the frame to do so. 

 

 

 

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17 hours ago, CoachMacho said:

I'd like to add that it's hard to find quality O-line coaching down here. 

It did not used to be that way.  I think there has just been so much emphasis on skill players as the years have past. 

It's interesting.  Go to certain other certain states and there is SO much more emphasis on hs O-line play than FL.  Even right up the road in GA there is a substantial difference.  If any doesn't believe me, do your homework and see how much more broadly GA linemen are recruited than in FL.   

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  • 3 weeks later...

We might be seeing the early stages of a shift in philosophy. Coastal Carolina, new to playing FBS competition, is unbeaten and may well shoot into the national rankings following its win over a ranked team last night. They've gotten there mostly through an offense which was put up a lot of points (Covid does seem to impact this for most teams). Here's a look at its OL by size. Willie Lampkin, who started on the 2018 and 2019 Lakeland teams, is starting as a true freshman and his size is overstated here, as he's more like 5'10" 260. This may be the smallest OL I've seen in FBS football in decades. And, for such a new program who almost certainly can't recruit the top players, an "outside of the box" approach is just about the only way to win. Might coaches realize the value of smart, strong, agile football players over guys with huge frames that are really none of the above?

 

image0 (1).jpeg

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3 hours ago, skyway said:

Willie Lampkin, who started on the 2018 and 2019 Lakeland teams, is starting as a true freshman and his size is overstated here, as he's more like 5'10" 260.

IDK about that one. Lampkin was the state runner-up in the 285 class for wrestling. I can't say I've ever stood next to him but he certainly looked closer to 295 from a distance with his thick frame. 

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21 hours ago, skyway said:

We might be seeing the early stages of a shift in philosophy. Coastal Carolina, new to playing FBS competition, is unbeaten and may well shoot into the national rankings following its win over a ranked team last night. They've gotten there mostly through an offense which was put up a lot of points (Covid does seem to impact this for most teams). Here's a look at its OL by size. Willie Lampkin, who started on the 2018 and 2019 Lakeland teams, is starting as a true freshman and his size is overstated here, as he's more like 5'10" 260. This may be the smallest OL I've seen in FBS football in decades. And, for such a new program who almost certainly can't recruit the top players, an "outside of the box" approach is just about the only way to win. Might coaches realize the value of smart, strong, agile football players over guys with huge frames that are really none of the above?

 

image0 (1).jpeg

Who did they beat , they not getting ranked. Beat someone first not Louisiana.  

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