JACKSONVILLE — It’s typically a pretty good sign of what kind of talent a team has when coaches from a pair of SEC rivals show up on a high school campus on the same day.
That was just the case on Tuesday at the practice fields of The Bolles School when quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler of Florida and offensive line coach Stacy Searles of Georgia attended an afternoon workout to keep a close eye on the Theus brothers – rising senior long-snapper Nathan (6-3, 255) and rising junior offensive tackle John (6-6, 285) – as they continue to garner looks from top schools across the Southeast.
“It’s exciting, but it can be stressful, too,” Nathan Theus said of the coaches making stops at Bolles on a now daily basis. “But in the end, every day we come out here I’m reminded of that (with the college coaches coming through). It makes me want to work harder.”
Although, it’s been a hectic spring, it’s going to get even busier this summer. Nathan and John Theus plan to embark on a summer tour that will take them to three top programs in the SEC, and could go a long way in determining their future as to where they will be playing college football.
“We’re going to Georgia (June 12), Florida (June 15) and Alabama (June 19),” John Theus said of his plans for the summer “vacation” he will be taking, while accompanied by two brothers (younger brother Jeremiah will also tag along) and their father Paul.
It’s a family affair for the Theus clan, and that’s the reason this tour is so important. There is one goal in mind on this trip: earn as many offers as possible. What scholarship opportunities come from these camps will not only shape the direction of eldest brother Nathan’s decision, but those of the younger two siblings as well (Jeremiah is a promising-looking eighth grader who is already hard at work learning the art of long-snapping).
“When we first started the process, I told John I wasn’t going to keep him from going anywhere, because he’s just a freak,” Nathan recalled of the recruiting process. “We started doing this, then Georgia started looking at us together, then Florida began looking at us together, so we just decided we’re going to (the same school) together. We’ve been on the same team our whole lives. We’re one year apart, we have the same friends, we do the same thing on the weekends. It’s just kind of an understanding that we want to go to school together and be there for each other.”
Nathan went on to detail how, even as one of the top long-snapping prospects in the entire country, it’s can still be a nerve-racking ordeal as it relates to earning college scholarships.
“When we first started this recruiting process, I got humbled a lot,” he recalled. “I thought schools were going to offer because I’m a top-rated long snapper. It’s not like that at all. People say that long-snapping is an easy ticket to college, and we hate that because it’s not. It’s an easy ticket if you can do it well. It’s understandable that a lot of schools haven’t offered. Honestly, only the programs that want to have the best special teams units and know that matters are going to offer. That’s the type of school I want to be at.”
Now that Nathan has an offer in hand from the University of South Carolina, the waiting game is over. Now, it’s all about who joins the crowd in addition to the Gamecocks. One of the teams in the mix to make a pitch to Theus is the Florida Gators, and the Florida coaching staff has let the Theus family know that a decision on whether or not they will extend an offer should come shortly after Theus camps with the Gators in the middle of June. In the meantime, the Theus brothers have made a few trips down to Gainesville to see what the school has to offer, and the impressions have been positive in regards to what they’ve seen out of the University of Florida so far.
“We got to visit some spring practices, and go to the spring game,” John said of the visits he and his family took in March and April. “It was very upbeat, which was nice. We got to learn some stuff from the coaches, and see what they were doing. They look like they’re ready to go.”
Quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler has been one of the primary contacts from the Gators for both Nathan and John Theus, and the pair had glowing reviews as to the job he has done so far in recruiting the brothers for Florida.
“(Loeffler) is a super-nice guy,” Nathan said. “He’s outgoing, fun and very caring. He cares about my brother, and he cares about my family. It’s really a family atmosphere at Florida. I know right now, if I had a problem, I could call him and talk to him. I really think that’s impressive about coach Loeffler.”
As one of the top offensive line prospects in Florida for the Class of 2012 if not the outright top offensive tackle and top junior prospects overall in the Sunshine State, Theus has already made a connection with Florida offensive coordinator Steve Addazio as well, as a result of the junior day event the family attended in Gainesville back in February.
“Coach Addazio expects a lot out of you, which I like,” John noted of the Florida offensive line coach. “He doesn’t let anyone slack, and he’ll let you know if you do.”
While the Gators will have some stiff competition from Alabama and Georgia, Florida seems to be in a good position to land the Theus brothers if they pull the trigger on scholarship opportunities to two talented and well-grounded young men.
“They’re a powerhouse,” John said of Florida. “They’ve been putting people in the NFL, and they’ve been winning everything. Good academics, a great school with a great coaching staff. It would be a great place to go. It’s a good school all-around.”
A talented basketball player as well, John Theus currently reports a bench press max of 285 pounds, and a clean max of 300 pounds. He has been timed at 5.1 seconds in the 40-yard dash. Nathan currently weighs 255 pounds, as he will line up at guard for the Bolles varsity this fall. He typically keeps a playing weight of around 245 pounds when he is strictly long-snapping. Nathan currently reports a bench press max of 315 pounds.