LAKE CITY, Fla. -- It's hard to miss five-star offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil on the practice fields at Lake City High School.
At 6-foot-6 and 295 pounds, he has a frame college coaches dream about when looking for offensive linemen. Tunsil, No. 3 on the ESPN 150, has the footwork of a skilled dancer and is cat-like quick coming off the ball. He has the strength to finish blocks and the hands to frustrate any defender.
His dominating play speaks volumes, but, yes, Tunsil is soft-spoken. He is friendly with everyone, says "Yes, sir" and "No sir" frequently and is extremely popular with his teammates.hoto1>"Laremy says more with his presence than his words," Lake City quarterback Jayce Barber said. "You know when he's talking that it's important."
In many ways, Tunsil is still getting comfortable with his status in the recruiting world despite such predictions by his former head coach back when he was a sophomore.
"Tunsil right there is going to be the best one I've had," former Lake City coach Craig Howard said after a 2010 game against Gainesville Buchholz. "He is just getting better with each practice."
Howard's proclamation takes on an even higher level of praise when you consider he's coached for Florida Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and current Florida State standout defensive lineman Tim Jernigan.
"I really didn't know much about the stars or rankings back then," Tunsil said. "I mean I knew that people were looking at me because I was going against [Jernigan] every day in practice. But I really never knew much about the recruiting. And I certainly didn't expect to be where I am right now."
Tunsil quickly figured it out. In some ways, he has even stayed ahead of the recruiting game.
"Until recently I didn't even have a phone, so I didn't deal with a lot of the phone calls or the hassle," Tunsil said. "So I haven't dealt with a lot of the things that the other top guys are dealing with."
Still, coaches are seemingly at every practice. During this practice, it's USC assistant Ed Orgeron who is standing on the sidelines wondering if the Trojans have a legitimate shot at Tunsil.
He can rest easy. They do.
"I'm very interested in USC because they have a great history of developing linemen," Tunsil said. "They always have a strong, tough group up front."
Tunsil is also interested in Florida, Georgia, Florida State, Alabama and LSU. He hasn't seen many schools, but that time is coming.
"I'm going to make some trips over the summer," Tunsil said. "I have to probably see each of my top schools twice, if I can.
"I'm definitely going to take all five official visits, because I'm not making a final decision until national signing day."
Tunsil has a good idea what he wants out of his next program. He wants the right playbook, one that doesn't include a spread offense.
"I want to do the things that offensive linemen are asked to do in the pros as well," Tunsil said. "That means putting my hand in the ground, attacking off the snap, pulling around the edges that sort of thing."
With his decision date and parameters in place, Tunsil asks as many questions as he answers. He's curious about the other top players in the nation, especially the one at the top – Robert Nkemdiche (Loganville, Ga./Grayson).
Tunsil met the 6-5, 280-pound five-star defensive end once during an unofficial trip to Georgia and said they are pretty close in size and talent.
"I've seen his highlight film on YouTube and he's real good," Tunsil added. "I mean he's a dominant force on offense and defense, and he's just bigger and stronger than any competition he goes up against."
So does Tunsil think he can take him?
"Yeah, I could get him," Tunsil said with an innocent smile. "He would provide a tough challenge with his long arms, but I could get him."
There's always a chance the top two could square off in college as Nkemdiche's top programs include Alabama, Ole Miss, LSU, Georgia and Clemson.
"We might go up against each other or we might be teammates," Tunsil added. "You never know."
In the meantime, Tunsil is just trying to focus on spring football. He would like to have a successful senior year and challenge for a state championship. Columbia coach Brian Allen thinks his top player has his priorities straight.
"Laremy is a special player and he has a chance to make a major impact in football," said Allen, who won a national championship at Florida State in 1999 and was drafted in the third round by the St. Louis Rams in 2001. "He's always trying to get better every day. He's strong and he's fundamentally sound. He's got all the tools you need to be one of the best."