TAMPA — Plant senior offensive tackle Tony Posada is close to closing the book on his whirlwind recruiting season. The 6-foot-5, 320-pounder will likely make his college decision known around the beginning of preseason practice on Aug. 9 so he can concentrate on helping the Panthers to their third straight state title.
Plant's sole returning starting offensive lineman owns more than 20 Division I-A offers, including Michigan, Missouri, Texas Tech and USF, but said he's "99 percent sure" he knows where he wants to go. While we stay tuned, we sat down with Posada and asked about recruiting, South of Gandy rivals and being a sleeping giant.
Cyberspace is saying you're pretty close to making your college decision. How close are you, and are you glad to get it out of the way early?
I'm pretty close. I'm right there with making my decision. I think right now I'm just putting the final wraps on it. I'm not as excited to get it out of the way as I am to be able to concentrate on the season and get to concentrating on winning states again.
Your stock rose pretty quickly at the end of last season. What do you attribute that to?
I would get a lot of mail, but mail doesn't mean anything. But I think right after the Robinson game (29-13 victory Nov. 13), I started playing really intense. That's when I think my stock started to rise.
So that game was a turning point for you?
Robinson is our big-time rival and I just despise them with all my might. Whenever you go somewhere in South Tampa, there's going to be a Robinson fan or a Robinson kid. They say we're cocky, we say they're cocky. In that game, a couple of their defensive linemen were getting me stirred up. We exchanged some words. I almost got kicked out of that game. (Quarterback Phillip Ely) saved me on that one.
What's the craziest thing about the recruiting process?
During spring practice you'd have about three or four coaches call you a night and you'd have four to six guys call you from Rivals.com or Scout.com. You'd be getting calls from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. I got better with interviews. I think I wasn't so good at first, but you get better about it.
What stood out about the trips you made? Any wow moments as you traveled to college campuses?
I went to USF and I had a wow moment seeing how they're starting to put new stuff in and building new facilities. When I went to Michigan, it was a wow moment going into the city there (Ann Arbor) and it felt like a big-time city, but it was kind of small and quaint. It felt like it was perfect enough to have fun but it wasn't big enough that everyone knew your business.
The word is you really like Michigan.
They're one of my top four but I haven't made my final decision on them yet. Right now, until about two weeks from now, it's going to be an open game, an open game for anyone.
You've made it pretty clear that this is the stretch run for you. Think the next couple of weeks will be crazy?
I think there will be a last-minute rush. I'm already getting e-mails from USF two, three times a day. I get mail from Michigan all the time. Texas Tech sends me stuff. Missouri does, too.
What do you and your Plant teammates have to do to win another state championship?
It's always tough to win a state championship and defend it because everyone is looking out for you. Let's say you're Tampa Bay Tech. They beat us last year. They're big-time rivals with Armwood, but they don't care as much about beating Armwood because they want to beat Plant because we're the state champions. That's how everyone's going to be. They don't care if they have a winning record. They want to beat us. It's going to be tough.
We lost a lot of talent from last year, but we always gain it back. I think our skill guys maybe have to work a little bit harder, not trying to put them down, just maybe dive for the ball when they need to, sacrifice themselves. The linemen need to know and figure out each other's tendencies. Right now, I don't think our line feels comfortable with each other. You can just tell. We need to work on all that.
ESPN has you guys ranked No. 2 in the nation. How's that for pressure?
It's just a number. No. 2 is fine. The only thing that would matter is if we win a national championship. If we win a national championship, it's great. All that is fine and dandy, but it really doesn't matter what the ranking is.
You guys are going to Texas in September. What's the must-have item in your travel bag?
I know (running back/defensive end James) Wilder and Ely, they put their iPods in and listen to them for 10 hours. But me, I'm kind of a subtle guy. I'll take a pillow so I can sleep. We usually go out for warmups about 30 minutes before the game starts, so I'll wake up about five minutes before and put all my stuff on. To me, I want to keep all my energy up for the game. People might say I'm not prepared for the game, but I'm always pumped up for the game.
Eduardo A. Encina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.