Here’s something you won’t hear that often: He’s a very agile, athletic 7-foot, 390-pound kid.
After a semester at Georgia Prep Sports Academy, Krahn is now on campus at Lincoln University in Missouri, and was announced as part of the Division II school’s class on National Signing Day.
He is down to 390 pounds and expected to start at left tackle in the fall. The plan is for him to get down to 360 by the time the season begins.
“He came in right around 390 and it’s not like he was overly big,” Lincoln coach Steven Smith said. “It’s not one of those deals where he’s overly fat. His body is proportioned and that helps in what he does. … He’s ready to work. He goes to class, goes to study hall, goes through workouts, is doing great in the weight room. This is his time to prove the type of player he is.”
Therein lies the challenge. As Krahn got massive media attention, the focus was on how big he was and not what he could do on the field.
“A lot of times people look at size; we looked at his ability,” Smith said. “When people see him on film, maybe he had a couple of instances where he didn’t use his hands well. Some people thought he wasn’t mobile enough. …
“Once you get to him, you see he has every intangible to be a great offensive lineman and lots of ability …. If he commits to studying and pushing himself, that will be the key to getting him over the top. His ability to finish and using this hands and his aggressiveness will help him. He needs to fine tune, add some of the little things to get better.”
In Smith, he has a willing teacher. Hired in December at Lincoln, Smith was the offensive coordinator for four years at Albany State as part of nine seasons in the college ranks. He also has spent eight years in pro football, much of it working with the offensive line, including as the assistant offensive line coach for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2012. He also coached the offensive line for the Rhein Fire in 2006, with eight of his players signing with NFL teams. According to Lincoln, Smith was the only position coach in NFL Europe history to have that many players signed in a single year.
“I’m not trying to have a regular Division II college offensive line,” Smith said. “What I’m accustomed to is NFL level. He’ll fit right in, but he’ll just be a couple of inches taller than everyone else.”
Smith says the rest of the projected offensive line ranges from 6-4 ½ to 6-6 and weighs an average of 320 pounds. He expects Krahn to be a big part of a group that he expects to play well together and that will gel in the spring and summer.
“The biggest thing is for them to come together and play well,” Smith said.
So how does a player go from Riverside, Calif., to Decatur, Ga., to Jefferson City, Mo.?
Krahn did not have an FBS offer as his high school career ended, although there was some interest, and he was limited because he was a partial qualifier academically. He had some walk-on invitations, a few Division II offers and some junior college opportunities.
Krahn visited Georgia and Georgia Tech and fell in love with the state. He also felt being at Georgia Prep, in the heart of SEC country, would help him get noticed. He received a walk-on invitation from Alabama and was mulling whether to accept.
Smith, at Albany State, had talked with the Georgia Prep coaches and seen Krahn on film, but had not talked to him. Smith said his first contact with Krahn came after he was hired at Lincoln in early December.
“I wanted him, but it took me a while to get him,” Smith said. “He had to make the decision to walk on at Alabama or get a full scholarship here. I was able to convince him — with what I did in the past from interning and being a full-time coach in the NFL for a while, I thought it would be the best situation for him to get where he wanted to go. We can give him the education and the tools to play at the next level. He thought about it and made the decision he wanted to play now.”
As hard as it might be for a 7-foot, 390-pound man to blend in, Smith says Krahn is doing it.
“Everybody knows the hype about him, but the kid is a great kid,” Smith said. “He just turned 19. He’s ecstatic about the opportunity. Everyone knows about him, but he’s been very humble and that’s something I really love about him. He came in and wants to play and be the guy he knows he can be. He believes in himself and understands what it takes to get the job done. That’s a great thing and sometimes you don’t find kids like that.”