5-star OT Laremy Tunsil talks top schools

Lake City, Fla., tackle Laremy Tunsil is the nation's No. 3 prospect, but says he's determined to keep getting better. He lists UF, UGA, Bama, LSU and Oklahoma as his top schools of choice. Tom Hauck for ESPN.com

The news of Tuesday’s release of the ESPN 150 brought excitement to offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil (Lake City, Fla./Columbia), who is ranked the No. 3 overall prospect in the country, one of just seven five-star prospects, the top recruit in Florida, and top offensive linemen in the 2013 class. But, for the 6-foot-6, 290-pound tackle with offers from around the country, the satisfaction was short-lived.

“It feels great to be ranked so high, but the stars do not matter,” Tunsil said. “What is important to me is the hard work and dedication you put into the game you love.”

For Tunsil, what happens between the hash marks is everything, as the massive lineman takes great joy in his trench battles under the Friday night lights.

“Basically the game of football is my life!” Tunsil said. “I just love the atmosphere of the game and the chill bumps that go through your body. My favorite memory of football is in ninth grade, when I got my pancake and I saw my mother smiling.”

That Tunsil’s mother is involved in his most enjoyable gridiron moment should come as no surprise for those who know him well. His journey to elite prospect would not be possible without her daily sacrifices.

“What got me here is my mother, Desiree Tunsil,” Tunsil said. “She is a single mom that works late shifts to put food on the table, but we still struggle almost every day to make it. I never had a father figure in my life, so that made me push harder at the game I love and it puts a smile on my mother’s face. She told me to work hard at everything I do because it pays off at the end. She is my inspiration.”

That hard work has already resulted in Tunsil receiving dozens of scholarship offers from the top programs in the country. While the recruiting process is already over for some, for Tunsil the inability to get on the road on a weekly basis will likely carry his decision into next year.

“I will probably take my officials during the season, and I would like to take them to LSU, Alabama, Ole Miss, Oklahoma and USC,” Tunsil said. “I plan to make my commitment on signing day, Feb. 2, and I will make it based on my relationship with my offensive line coach, the education offered and the atmosphere on campus.”

One program not listed in the group of official visits is a school that was 0-for-2 in its attempts to host Tunsil this spring, after last having him on campus five months ago.

"I like UGA a lot,” Tunsil said. “Hopefully I get to visit soon because I miss Athens. What stands out about Georgia are the relationships I have with their coaches. Also Derrick Henry is my boy and I would love to block for him in college!"

Five programs stand out for the five star offensive tackle, who has been able to develop strong bonds with several college coaches.

“Right now, UGA , LSU, Alabama, Florida and Oklahoma are on top,” Tunsil said. “The coaches I have the best relationship with are Will Friend, John Lilly and Mike Bobo from UGA, Bryant Young from Florida, Coach [Bruce] Kittle from Oklahoma and Coach [Brick] Haley from LSU.”