Last season under coach Stacy Searels, the offensive line struggled to protect then red-shirt freshman quarterback Aaron Murray, as Murray was sacked 25 times on the season. And amidst the questions over Coach Richt’s job security and the building scrutiny concerning an underperforming offensive line, Coach Searels opted to leave the Georgia coaching staff this past winter to take a position coaching the offensive line at Texas under head coach Mack Brown.
So in February, coach Mark Richt selected Will Friend, the offensive line coach at UAB, to fill the vacancy that Searels had left. But through the first five games of this season, the offensive line has continued to struggle under Friend, giving up 13 sacks thus far — 94th in the nation in sacks allowed.
With the offensive line in a state of flux, Friend has already secured the commitment of five-star offensive tackle John Theus out of The Bolles School in Jacksonville, and now he’s chasing another Florida offensive tackle — Avery Young, a 6-foot-6, 275-pound left tackle out of Palm Beach Gardens Community High School in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
“He’s a tremendous zone stretch blocker — he’s very, very long, he moves his feet very well in pass protection and really climbs to the second level,” Palm Beach Gardens head varsity football coach Chris Davis told the Red & Black. “He’s a very, very athletic left tackle.”
Young, a Rivals four-star rated tackle who is considered the 11th best prospect in the state of Florida and a top 50 prospect in the nation for the 2012 class, is currently entertaining about 40 offers and has expressed high interest in Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma and Virginia Tech. And according to his head coach, Young is looking prominently at the prospects of joining the Georgia program as a way of returning to his roots.
“He’s originally from Georgia, his mom lives in Cuthbert, it’s down by Albany and he’s very close with her and doesn’t get to see her a whole lot. And it’s also close enough to where his dad can travel from South Florida to see him play,” Davis said.
Young had originally scheduled to visit Athens this past April for the Georgia Nike Football Training Camp, but had a minor injury set back the week before that spoiled his plans to attend. According to his coach, Young has yet to visit Athens but is planning on a visit sometime this year.
Despite having not visited, Young and the Georgia coaching staff have maintained a strong long distance relationship as Young has been in regular contact with Coach Richt and the rest of the staff.
“He’s spoken with Coach Richt… he’s spoken with Will Friend, the offensive line coach — Will has done a terrific job recruiting him and I think the world of him,” Davis said. “Coach Olivadotti recruits this area, but [Coach] Friend has also been down as his potential position coach.”
Coach Davis believes that Young is going to have to add some size onto his 6-foot-6 frame, but he envisions his offensive tackle making an immediate impact on the field wherever he decides to play come next fall.
“I think he’s going to have to put on a little bit of weight. He’s a slim 290 right now and he’s gonna need to put on a little bit of weight — I think he’s gonna be able to carry a little bit more in his frame,” Davis said. “But you know, I think he can walk in several places right now and be ready to play often, early.”
Davis does not expect a commitment to come from Young anytime this fall, as he plans to announce his decision on national TV at the 2012 Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 5 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.