In the state of Florida there are several big-time schools that continually churn out talented kids; from Lakeland High, Tallahassee-Lincoln, Miami-Northwestern to St. Thomas Aquinas (just to name a few), big time colleges have come all over to recruit standout after standout.
St. Thomas Aquinas (which is commonly called STA) has been one of the most dominant teams over the past 5 years. One of the keys to their success has been their devastating offensive line. Since 2005, STA has produced some of the best lineman in the country. In 2006 alone STA had arguably 3 of the nation's best on the same line. Sam Young, Scout.com's number two overall lineman, chose to go to Notre Dame, where he started much of his true freshman year at right tackle.
Joining Young at Notre Dame was Dan Wenger, who Scout.com had rated as the number 20 overall line prospect in the country. Not to be left out on this dominating line was Marcus Gilbert, who was ranked 42nd overall by Scout.com. Gilbert chose to attend the University of Florida. Finally, a kid not as highly recruited as these three, but who was ranked as the 60th overall line prospect by Scout.com, was Marcus Lind. He signed with Duke University.
STA's success of producing high-quality lineman continued in 2007 as five kids signed to play college football. Highlighting this group was Jermaine Johnson, who signed with Auburn University, and Nicholas Pieschel, who signed in-state with UCF. An astonishing 9 offensive lineman were signed by schools nation wide over this two year span.
For Florida State, it has been tough to get a grasp of some of the talent that comes from STA. Since 1992 FSU has landed only 4 kids from the high school power. In 1995, a corner named Billy Brown headed to FSU. It wasn't until 4 years later when a running back named Ryan Reynolds wore the Garnet and Gold. In 2000 Eric Resta, a kicker, chose FSU. Finally in 2005, FSU was able to land a better prospect from STA when standout receiver Richard Goodman signed with FSU.
Today it looks like FSU has landed their 5th prospect from STA, and a kid who provides help at a position of need (offensive line). NoleDigest is proud to announce that Andrew Datko, a 6'6", 270 pound tackle, has committed to FSU. Many people around the STA program feel that this up-and-comer is as good as the guys that have come before him, and that he will be able to carry on the rich tradition of lineman STA has produced.
NoleDigest was able to catch up with STA assistant coach Tim Conrad, who has worked with Andrew for three years. When asked to describe Andrew, Coach Conrad had this to say, "The best thing about Andrew is that he has so much strength, especially in his lower body. He also has the frame that if the coaches wanted he can add weight to move inside to guard, but I feel he is real solid as a tackle. I will tell you this, when he locks onto you you will not get him off of you."
Not only is Andrew a success on the field, he is also a great student. Coach Conrad continues, "Andrew is a first-rate student athlete. On and off the field he is as smart as they come. You will not find a better kid. Also, he thinks about football 24/7."
As we noted earlier, STA has produced some of the best lineman around, therefore it is natural to consider where Andrew compares with the others. "I put Andrew right up there with Sam Young in terms of talent, but he doesn't get the publicity that Sam had. They are in the same category. He reminds me so much of Sam because they are both big kids who move so well for their size. Additionally, Andrew's work ethic is one of the best we have had here. I really feel he will be one of the highest recruited kids on our team this year, and that is saying a lot with the kids STA produces. This kid is really going to blow up this year. As coaches we are expecting a lot out of Andrew. He is our only senior on the offensive line. He is a good motivator; a kid that is quiet who does things right. In my opinion he is like a college player now in terms of how he does everything right" stated Conrad.
When FSU signed Rick Trickett to be their offensive line coach, many people expected the way the line played to change. Trickett's way of coaching is legendary, and it is one reason he is widely considered as one of the nation's best. His new mentality and expectations in what he wants out of his players is much different than previous years. Coach Conrad feels that Andrew falls in line with the expectations of coach Trickett, "He fits into the Trickett mold of linemen. He wants guys that move well and can run. He wants guys that are in shape. Andrew is that guy."
Please stay tuned to NoleDigest for up to the minute news and notes on the Florida State Seminoles 2008 recruiting class.