January 4, 2013

Tunsil relishes the competition

SAN ANTONIO, Tex. - Offensive lineman are often asked to react to what the defensive line does before and after the snap.

They have to counter any pre-snap shifts or post-snap slants or stunts on almost every play.

Columbia (Lake City, Fla.) offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil took almost that exact same approach when mentally preparing for the U.S. Army All-American week that will culminate in an All-Star game on Saturday at 1 p.m. that will air on NBC.

The nation's top-ranked offensive lineman decided to take a "wait and see" approach, and he has been impressed thus far.

"I really didn't have a goal," said Tunsil. "I wanted to see what the competition is like, and it is pretty good. I've never seen this competition before."

The most impressive part of the week of practices is what he has seen out of the East's group of defensive lineman, which is made up of all four and five star players.

Probably all of the defensive line," said Tunsil when asked what has impressed him the most this week. "They are quick, and strong. You don't see that in high school. You may see it once in awhile, but not a lot. Last time I saw that was when Tim (Jernigan) was there (Columbia High School)."

Anyone who spends any length of time around the five-star prospect is sure to notice the trademark smile that he seems to be wearing all of the time.

This week, however, Tunsil seems to be smiling even more and a lot of it has to do with the amount of fun he is having out west and how much he is improving due to the competition and elite coaching.

"I been having a lot of fun, but today I'm down in the weather today so not happy about that," said Tunsil. "It all just gets you better. You have a lot of room for improvement, so this gets you ready for college, mainly. The coaches are crazy. They are pretty cool, though. They are getting you ready, too. Just like college life."

When it comes to his recruitment, Tunsil has a top three of Alabama, Georgia, and Ole Miss, and says that Florida State is a school that is still in the mix but is also on the outside looking in.

Most prospects have individual aspects of each program that they like, but Tunsil is eyeing the exact same thing in each of his top programs.

"I'm going to say the same thing for all of them," said Tunsil when asked what he liked about each program. "It is the relationships. That is the main thing for me since day one. Nothing takes away from that and I have to pick based on the relationships and the atmosphere."

One of the top teams on his list, Alabama, just lost Tunsil's primary recruiter, Jeremy Pruitt, to Florida State when he took the defensive coordinator position for the Seminoles.

Despite Pruitt's departure from Tuscaloosa, the strong relationship is still there for the Rivals100 standout.

"Coach (Jeff) Stoutland," said Tunsil when asked who had taken over his recruitment for the Tide. "He's a great coach and a great guy."

Tunsil also named a number of coaches when he was asked about which coaches from Georgia he has gotten to know the most.

"Oh, (John) Lilly, (Will) Friend, (Mike) Bobo, Coach (Mark) Richt, and the running backs coach, B-Bac (Bryan McClendon)," he said.

He has also formed some solid relationships with the Ole Miss staff as well, but Tunsil also acknowledges that the Rebels' pursuit of big time prospects such as Grayson defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche and Milton defensive lineman Carl Lawson, both five-star prospects, has an impact as well.

"Its relationships with them (the Ole Miss coaching staff)," he said. "Just chilling with Chris Kiffin and Matt Luke, and we've been talking about it. How we could have big players and stuff."

Tunsil is rooming with Atlantic (Delray Beach, Fla.) defensive tackle Keith Bryant in San Antonio, but one of his close friends and Alabama commitment, Yulee (Yulee, Ala.) athlete Derrick Henry will also be playing in the game.

Tunsil has acknowledged that Henry's pledge to Alabama will have an impact on his recruitment, and says that the four-star prospect will host him on his official visit to Tuscaloosa on January 11.

While the friendship between Tunsil and Henry may give the Tide a card to play, the Army All-American tackle also acknowledges that he has built some strong relationships with some current and future Bulldogs as well.

"I got Todd (Gurley). I got (Brandon) Kublanow right here. I got (Tray) Matthews. I got all these early enrollees so I think I'm good," said Tunsil when asked if he had made any friends that are connected to Georgia. "Oh, John Theus too. I forgot about him too."

Tunsil says that after his Alabama visit he will visit Georgia on January 18, Ole Miss on January 25, and Florida State on February 1.

His visit to Athens will be his third in two years as he visited UGA for a game as a junior and this past summer during the Mark Richt Mini Camp.

The Sunshine State standout says that he will make his decision on National Signing Day, but also told UGASports on Thursday that on his trip to Georgia this summer, he contemplated making that pledge sooner than he expected.

"When I went to Georgia, on that campus, I was going to commit," said Tunsil when asked how he liked his visit to Athens in June. "So it had to be good."

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