Two years ago now Florida Gators offensive tackle Rod Johnson wasn’t invited to the Under Armour All American game. The American Heritage Delray lineman did get a call mid week to fill in following a practice injury to another lineman.
This year, Tyree St. Louis was afforded the same opportunity. After initially being left off of the list, an injury to Lester Cotton, opened up a roster spot and St. Louis was quick to accept what he believed he deserved in the first place.
“It was great to be out today and to get the opportunity to go again the best players in the country,” St. Louis said. “I want to show everyone that I should’ve been one of the first guys invited initially. My goal is to come out here and improve myself daily.”
Despite being a day behind the rest of the players on the field, St. Louis had a standout performance on Tuesday — his first day of practice. At 6-5, 300-plus pounds, St. Louis is used to being able to bully smaller defenders in high school. He’s been able to use his size to an advantage but that size differential isn’t something he can use this week in Orlando.
“Going against the best players in the country makes you really evaluate yourself and go back to the basics as a player,” St. Louis said. “Instead of being bigger and faster than everyone you have to be more about fundamentals than before.”
The Gators have been recruiting St. Louis hard, even after he pledged his verbal commitment to Miami over the summer. That recruitment hasn’t changed with the emergence of a new staff — Jim McElwain wants the big offensive tackle in orange and blue.
“Coach McElwain visited me during the recruiting period and was just telling me who he is and what he’s about,” St. Louis said. “He was telling me that he’s going to turn everything around and get Florida back.”
Playing early is of importance to St. Louis and that is something the Gators can offer. Currently, Florida only has eight scholarship offensive linemen and just three committed prospects in the class.
“He gave me a very good message about him trying to keep the offense the same by running a pro-style offense,” St. Louis said. “Coach McElwain was telling me that they really don’t have that many linemen on the team and that I have an opportunity to come in and play early.”
The addition of McElwain meant a lot of turnover on the Florida coaching staff. Currently only one coach looks like he will be retained but that coach would be St. Louis’ position coach if he flips his commitment from Miami to Florida.
“Coach Summers staying at Florida is a good thing and yes I’ve talked to him recently,” St. Louis said. “He was telling that he’s still there and that he still wants me and that Florida is going into the spring with only 7 offensive linemen and that at a young age I could see playing time. That’s appealing to me.”
St. Louis is holding firm to his Miami commitment but with Al Golden on a hot seat heading into next season he wants to keep his options open.
“As of right now Miami is my home for right now,” St. Louis said. “Just in case something happens I want to have a school to fall back on. I’ll have my final decision on signing day.”
St. Louis officially visited Syracuse on December 5th and has a scheduled official visit to Tennessee set up for January 16. St. Louis also plans on getting to Miami and Gainesville for official visits before making a final decision on national signing day.