Editor’s note: We are counting down the top five 2017 SEC recruits at each position. Previous installments: Quarterbacks. Running backs. Wide receivers.
Today’s installment shows love to the big fellas on the offensive line. While they might not get the glory, games are decided in the trenches by these players. The SEC has continued to be among the best conferences in the nation at producing NFL linemen.
Specifically, we will look at the offensive tackle position today. These players boast the rare skill set of both size and quickness to protect the outside. Make sure and check back tomorrow to see the interior linemen who will line up beside them.
*Note: All rankings are from the 247Composite.
Calvin Ashley, Auburn
Overall ranking: 12
National OT ranking: 3
The skinny: As his ranking would lead you to believe, Calvin Ashley is a beast. Listed at 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds, Ashley is able to physically overwhelm almost every other high schooler he lines up against with Orlando’s First Academy.
Like many players his age, Ashley dominates opposition as a run blocker. He also has shown ability to move his feet, even with the amount of bulk he has on his frame. He should be a welcome addition to Auburn’s offensive line.
Depth chart: Freshmen offensive linemen don’t typically see the field right away, and that will most likely be true for Ashley. He almost certainly will not redshirt, but a year of physical and technical development will help prepare him for SEC defensive lines.
Alex Leatherwood, Alabama
Overall ranking: 20
National OT ranking: 5
The skinny: With Alex Leatherwood joining the Crimson Tide, the rich continue to get richer in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Leatherwood, listed at 6-foot-6 and 315 pounds, is one of the most talented 17-year-olds in the country.
Since committing to Alabama over a year ago, Leatherwood’s stock has exploded. He has received offers from many of the other top schools in the nation, including LSU, Ole Miss, Michigan and Southern Cal. However, Leatherwood has consistently said he is firmly committed to Alabama.
Depth chart: Alabama has stockpiled plenty of high-level talent, so Leatherwood might have to wait his turn with the Tide. However, getting on campus in December should only help his chances of playing early. We saw that Nick Saban has no qualms with playing a freshman if he is ready, so the onus will be on Leatherwood.
Austin Deculus, LSU
Overall ranking: 40
National OT ranking: 8
The skinny: Offensive linemen from Texas have gone on to do great things, and Austin Deculus is the top-rated lineman in the state. Deculus has a lengthy offer list of at least 30 major schools, including several in-state programs. However, he chose LSU to further his football career.
At this point, Deculus is a mauler and excellent run-blocker for Cy-Fair High School in the Houston area. Listed at 6-foot-6 and 323 pounds, Deculus can physically overpower almost all opposing competition.
Depth chart: The timing at tackle might not be optimal for Deculus, who should face a little competition early on with LSU. The Tigers started a pair of true freshmen at the position last season, which means both could be around another three seasons. If they are, it means Deculus would likely be poised to take over at one of the positions as a redshirt sophomore at the earliest — unless he impresses the LSU coaching staff right away.
Austin Troxell, Auburn
Overall ranking: 80
National OT ranking: 13
The skinny: When a kid who is 6-foot-7 and 335 pounds commits, you know you are getting a special player. Austin Troxell is the second major Auburn tackle commit in this class, and he should join with Ashley to create a special tandem on the outside.
Troxell tore his ACL last season, but is expected to recover fully and be ready to go for his senior season at Madison Academy in Alabama. With his impressive speed and frame, Troxell plays both ways for Madison.
Depth chart: In a few years, Troxell and Ashley will combine to form one of the best tackle combos in the SEC. Both are versatile players, who should develop into elite pass and run blockers. For Troxell, it will be vital to get back up to his playing weight after his ACL tear.
D’Antne Demery, Georgia
Overall ranking: 100
National OT ranking: 17
The skinny: Kirby Smart has trying to bring new energy to Georgia’s recruiting efforts, and D’Antne Demery is one of the early positive signs. Demery committed to Georgia just over two weeks ago despite being pursued heavily by some of the top teams in college football.
Demery is a man-child, like many others on this list. Listed at 6-5 and 319 pounds, Demery has the pure force and athleticism to embarrass defenses. However, it will be a process for him to learn technique to match up against players who are just as talented as he is in the SEC.
Depth chart: Georgia will have several new faces along the offensive line in the fall, but more spots will open up in 2017. Demery potentially could compete for a starting job when he gets on campus, at either guard or tackle.