Prattville’s Austin Golson isn’t the type to follow the trends that many football players do.
Rated as one of the top prep offensive linemen in the country, Golson might be expected to be busy narrowing down his college choices between Alabama, Auburn and other SEC programs, just like most of the rest of the state’s recruiting class.
But with National Signing Day less than two months away, the 6-foot-6, 284-pound senior stands firm in his commitment he made as a sophomore to join Jimbo Fisher’s Florida State program next fall.
Golson doesn’t share the desire of many of the state’s top prep players to be associated with the mighty SEC, widely considered the best college football conference in the land.
“To me, ACC and SEC are just letters at the end of the day,” Golson said during Monday’s check-in for the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic. “It’s just a real nice atmosphere down (at Florida State), and I’ve built a good relationship with the coaches.”
Golson’s not the only elite talent the ACC has managed to snag recently from the heart of SEC territory. Over the past two years, former high school stars like Jamal Golden, Justin Thomas, Jameis Winston and Justin Shanks all signed scholarships with schools from the 12-team conference, which will add Louisville, Syracuse and Pittsburgh in 2013.
A three-year starter, Golson admits there has been some pressure to switch his commitment to Alabama or Auburn.
“There are a lot of other schools still wanting me,” said Golson, who still plans to take an official visit with the Crimson Tide. “A lot of people want me to stay in the state, but it’s not their decision to make. That’s the way I look at that.”
Nowadays, student-athletes appear more business savvy, smarter and better equipped in terms of dealing with the recruiting process.
Golson claimed he didn’t go into “panic mode” when Fisher’s name surfaced during Auburn’s recent head coaching search.
“I wasn’t too worried about it,” he said. “Doesn’t really matter who is the head coach, just as long as you get along with your position coach.”
Golson, who helped Prattville win a 6A state championship as a junior, earned All-State honors and was a finalist for lineman of the year in 2011. The four-star prospect concludes his prep career at next month’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio.
Former Lions head coach Jamey DuBose believes recruiters would be hard-pressed to find an offensive tackle with Golson’s combination of size, quickness and technique.
“Austin is a great talent because he has the size and ability, but the thing that’s the difference for him is that he has the (footwork),” said DuBose, who coached Golson for three seasons before leaving for Florence High. “He’s a defensive lineman playing on the offensive line. He’s someone who has his techniques down.
“He’s a guy that’s a left tackle, a guy who’ll protect that quarterback.”