Recruiting: Top Offensive Guards and Centers

CSTV Recruiting with Tom Lemming
Generation Next

Aug. 25, 2005

By Tom Lemming

Special to


The sixth in a series of positional prospect rankings examines the top offensive guards and centers from the recruiting class of 2006.


1. Justin Anderson, Irwin Country High (Ga.), 6-5, 340 lbs., 5.3 (40-yard dash)


Anderson's the No. 1 player in Georgia and, without a doubt, one of the nation's top five offensive line prospects. He's a devastating tackle or guard -- not to mention defensive tackle -- but he'll likely play offensive guard in college. This guy will dominate people -- no one can stand up to him on the high school level. The Georgia product has unusually quick feet and change of direction. He's a real pounder. Barring injury and bad grades, the two-time All-State lineman should be a college All-American. Anderson committed very early to Georgia over Florida State and Georgia Tech.


2. Jacques McClendon, Baylor (Tenn.), 6-3, 325 lbs., 5.1


Tennessee blue-chipper McClendon is almost identical to Anderson. Smart, technically-sound and super-strong, he does a great job of finishing off his blocks. He can play center, guard or tackle. McLendon, who has not allowed a sack in the past two seasons, is a veritable phenom that dominates from the get-go. He and Anderson are two of those "Super Five" offensive line prospects -- along with Andre Smith, Carl Johnson and Sam Young (one of the nation's top three offensive tackles). Those five are as good as anyone I've seen in years, but after them there's a bit of a drop-off. McClendon has committed to Tennessee.


3. Matt Carufel, Cretin Durham (Minn.), 6-5, 290 lbs., 5.3


The No. 1 player in Minnesota is a gifted athlete -- Carufel also letters (and stands out) for Cretin Durham's baseball, hockey and track squad. Coming from the most storied program in the state never hurts. He can play center, guard or tackle, though he's probably best-suited to play guard. He looks like a powerhouse but he actually has good flexibility, and he's a dominating run blocker. Carufel does an excellent job of locating second-level blocks and never gets pushed around. In the end, he'll probably choose either Notre Dame or Iowa.


4. Justin Boren, Pickerington North (Ohio), 6-3, 315 lbs., 5.2


On film, Boren is probably the best offensive lineman in Ohio. He's a guy that could play center, guard or tackle and just dominate. He's very strong, and probably the most technically-sound of all the guards that are prospects. In 2004, he earned All-State honors at left tackle. After narrowing his choices down to bitter rivals Ohio State and Michigan, Boren committed to the Ann Arbor school where his father, Mike, played.


5. Jason Kates, Harrisburg Bishop McDevitt (Pa.), 6-3, 330 lbs., 5.1


Kates is a powerhouse 330-pounder who prefers defensive tackle, but is better-suited to play guard in college. All he has to do is watch his weight; he has a tendency to get heavy, but when he's in shape there are very few at the guard position that can redirect, change directions, pull and trap, and just fire out like the Pennsylvania bruiser. There are not many like him because of his unusually quick feet and great girth but, again, he'd do well to watch his weight. In his career, he's graded out at close to 90 percent in his blocking assignments (at right guard) and has yet to allow McDevitt signal-caller Jeremy Ricker to be sacked. Notre Dame, Penn State, Michigan and Virginia currently lead Rutgers, Michigan State, North Carolina State, Wisconsin and Minnesota.


6. Phillip Taylor, Brandywine-Gwynn Park (Md.), 6-4, 335 lbs., 5.2


Taylor, a Maryland product, is almost identical to Kates. He impressed everybody at the elite combine in New Jersey last May. A lot of head coaches were really shocked at how good he was, as he garnered Most Valuable Player honors for lineman there. He's slightly overweight and needs to watch that, but he lost some pounds this spring and really boosted his quickness. He's always had the drive and the power, and now his agility is coming around. The 335-pounder who graded out at over 90 percent in his blocking assignments -- and tallied 50 tackles, 2.0 sacks and 15 tackles for losses at NT -- could be one of the more dominant players by the end of the year.


7. Ramone Johnson, Morgan Park (Ill.), 6-5, 300 lbs., 5.0


Without a doubt, Johnson is the best offensive lineman in Illinois and one of the top five in the Midwest region. The Morgan Park prospect really came on strong as a junior, as scouts became enamored with his power and quick feet. Last year, he recorded an impressive 52 pancake blocks. He'd be nationally recruited if he grades were better. Right now, he's looking closely at USC, Illinois and Tennessee.


8. Alex Stadler, Bealeton Liberty (Va.), 6-6, 295 lbs., 5.4


Stadler is the No. 1 offensive lineman in Virginia. He's the consummate tackle-guard-type prospect: technically sound, makes very few mistakes, sets a really solid base while pass blocking, and plays the game on his feet. He's very quick in a limited space, possesses long arms and keeps his feet moving -- just a real technician. His favorite schools include backyard candidate Virginia, North Carolina State, Connecticut, Indiana, Virginia Tech, Florida, Maryland, West Virginia and Nebraska.


 9. Connor Smith, Colerain (Ohio), 6-4, 295 lbs., 5.1


Smith, who helped lead Colerain to the Ohio state title in the fall, is a guy who just does everything well. In the winter, he mans the paint as center for the basketball team. He was impressive at the Michigan camp, moving and firing off well. He's a good-sized, very technical ball player who's been well-trained by his father, Joe, who played for Ohio State. Fittingly, the junior Smith just committed to the Buckeyes.


10. J.B. Walton, Indianhead Lackey (Md.), 6-3, 270 lbs., 5.1


Walton is the smallest of all the offensive linemen but probably the quickest. He benefits from great body control and balance, and he is stronger than he appears. While he played tackle at Indianhead Lackey, Walton will play guard or center in college. He fires out very well, and is just a dominating ballplayer. He's as good as just about anybody else on this list, just not quite as big. Currently, Maryland leads Penn State, Illinois, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Miami, Florida, Louisiana State and Virginia Tech.



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