As a high school sophomore at Tampa Jesuit, Connor McLaughlin was a 6’5 173 pound tackle. Throughout his junior year, he put on close to 100 pounds and now stands at 6’7 and college coaches from around the country have taken notice.
“I started crushing peanut butter and jelly’s at school and I changed up my work out routine. It helped a lot.” McLaughlin said regarding his weight gain.
He also credits the fact that he stopped growing and was able to fill into his frame.
“My body stopped growing a little bit so I could gain some more weight. I’ve always been really tall and I would sometimes feel weird waking up because my body was changing so much.”
His length and his build have caught the attention of a lot of major programs, including Miami, who see his frame and dream of what they could make of it in a college weight room.
The Hurricanes offered the four-star tackle on April 22nd and since, schools such as Florida State, Georgia Tech, USC, Nebraska, and even Stanford have placed bids for his commitment.
And he’s staying humble about the process and enjoying it as his offer list continues to grow.
“I’ve never been one of those guys to get super caught up in the attention” McLaughlin said.
“It’s never really hit me that I’m getting all of these opportunities. My mom always tells me that I’ll never know until I have kids that are trying to get into college. It’s fun and I’m enjoying it a lot.”
McLaughlin has already taken visits to Northwestern, Iowa, and Duke among others and plans to return to Iowa for an official visit this coming weekend and then go to Georgia Tech for an official with the Yellow Jackets the following weekend.
“ I just want to see as many schools as I can and keep an open mind about all of this because you never know what you're going to like and you never really know a school until you visit it.”
You’ll notice that McLaughlin is heavily favoring academic powerhouses and says that “70%” of his decision will be based on the quality of education the university can offer.
“To have this opportunity on the table to be able to go to some of these schools, I mean why would you not want to go to an academic school? To be able to get a degree from Miami, or Stanford, or Duke or something like that is just crazy.”
The Cardinal don’t just hand out offers, so getting one is a really big deal — especially for somebody from the complete opposite side of the country.
The distance may be a factor, as McLaughlin played off the whole “it’s a plane ride away” cliché, but, as he said, “Stanford is Stanford” and he plans on visiting them for their junior day.
“I feel like it would be a crime not to give a really good look to Stanford because they just check all the boxes.”
The Hurricanes are also going after him and since the they offered the Tampa product, he and Miami offensive line coach Butch Barry have begun building their relationship.
And Barry has a unique way of relating with the Jesuit star tackle — being a former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach and being familiar with the area.
McLaughlin says the connection to the city of Tampa has been a way him and coach Barry have been able to bond. He even has a friend that lives off the same street that Barry used to live on.
From the football side of it, the Hurricanes offensive line coach is certainly doing all the right things when it comes to building a rapport with the rising senior.
“I talk to him all the time and he’s a great guy. I remember he came out to see me practice one day and he called me later that night to tell me what I did wrong and how I can get better. You can just tell that’s who I want to play for.”
And Barry’s background as an NFL coach certainly doesn’t hurt his chances with him.
“Coach Barry is obviously an NFL guy so he knows how to coach the longer guys like me. Thats kind of what the NFL is switching to so that's a huge factor for me.”
McLaughlin was also teammates with Hurricanes freshman tight end Larry Hodges, who enrolled for summer A at Miami.
“I’ve looked up to him a lot and I’ve copied his work ethic a lot. He’s who I want to turn into as a player. He grinds harder than anyone.”
McLaughlin doesn't currently have a visit scheduled for Miami, but says he intends to come down to Coral Gables this summer.
A final college decision could come before the July dead period, but as his options continue to grow and the decision gets harder, potentially pushing the date back wouldn’t be out of the question.