What a difference a few days can make. With Wednesday’s news of Brandon Kublanow (Marietta, Ga./Walton) committing to the University of Georgia, offensive line coach Will Friend and the rest of the Bulldogs’ coaching staff now have three in-state talents to work with along the offensive line for the 2013 class. While that might be half of the projected goal, it equals the total from last year with more than eight months to go until signing day.
Kublanow, a 6-foot-3, 292-pound mauler, is similar to Josh Cardiello (Buford, Ga./Buford), who committed Saturday, in that Kublanow could project as a guard or center at the next level. Regardless of how he plays, Walton head coach Rocky Hidalgo feels like he is special.
“Brandon is an absolute beast and one of the most fierce football players I have ever been around,” Hidalgo said. “He is extremely competitive, and on top of that he is big, strong and powerful so that makes for a deadly combination on the football field.”
A two-time first-team All-SCAC selection on the offensive line at Rhodes College before coming to Walton to coach in 1995, Hidalgo has seen and coached his fair share of talent in the last 16 years. In his eyes, Kublanow stands above them all in the trenches.
“He is special because of his power and his level of intensity on the field,” Hidalgo said. “Because of his toughness and aggressiveness, he is the best lineman I have seen in my 16 years coaching. I watched him work with NFL guys like Wayne Gandy and Osi Umenyiora, Takeo Spikes, Kelvin Peterson and about 20 other pro players and guys like him just do not come around very often.”
Along with Georgia, 17 college programs have come through the halls at Walton and made a scholarship offer to Kublanow, including Florida, FSU, LSU and USC. Hidalgo said many of them had high praise for his prized offensive lineman.
“Multiple college coaches have told me he is the best interior lineman in the country and one college coach said he is the best he has seen in 10 years,” Hidalgo said.
Last year, Walton was home to the top rusher in the Peach State. Kublanow's teammate Tyren Jones ran for 2375 yards and 33 touchdowns. The Raiders also boast one of the more underrated quarterbacks in the country, Parker McLeod, who completed 64 percent of his passes (101 of 158) for 1,585 yards with 18 touchdowns and just four interceptions during Walton’s 14-1 season.
McLeod credits much of his success to “Bull.”
“Brandon is a fierce competitor that is nasty,” McLeod said. “He just wants to put the guy on his butt and he does it most of the time. I love having him blocking in front of me and a lot of guys just fed off his competitiveness. When they saw him plowing his guy into the ground, they would try to do the same and it really helped fuel our offense.”