Cody Waldrop is 6-foot-4, 315 pounds of pure country boy. He plays some mean, nasty football during the week for Armwood, sometimes spends his weekends hunting, slipping away with his grandfather to shoot deer in Tifton, Ga., or hogs in Sarasota. The 17-year-old is also one of Tampa Bay's top recruits. Only a junior, Waldrop, who has a 3.3 grade-point average, is already drawing plenty of attention. He could end up being the top offensive lineman recruit in Florida by the time he graduates.
St. Petersburg Times high school columnist John C. Cotey checked in with him about recruiting:
How is the recruiting scene treating you?
"It's good. I haven't gotten an official offer or anything, but I know FSU and Auburn have already told me I'm on their offer list. … I went on a couple of summer visits to get a feel for some of the schools, and there's a couple I definitely want to go to … and some I definitely don't."
You're going to have lots of choices, aren't you?
"I get like five a day at school, and probably like another 20 at my house every day."
If you had to pick the schools that you feel were most interested, based upon their letters and conversations with you, who would they be?
"FSU, Auburn and Georgia."
Did you grow up wanting to play anywhere in particular?
"Dream school? Well, my whole family is FSU fans, but any Division I college is a dream school, where I can play on ESPN."
Which was the first school interested?
"Honestly, it doesn't really matter now, I guess, but Lane and Monte Kiffin at the beginning of my 10th-grade year came to talk to me. It was pretty special, and for a while I liked Tennessee, but I don't anymore."
Do the Kiffins stay in touch now that they are at USC?
"I've gotten a letter from every college … but not USC."
What are these colleges seeing? What do they tell you separates you from the others?
"When I'm on the field, I try to punish people every play. When I pull, I pull really hard, and I'm physical. Every block, I'm trying to lay people out. The one big thing is I want to do something that stands out every play. And I'm pretty strong. They like my strength."
You've played almost everywhere on the line. Where do you see yourself in college?
"When I first got here, they wanted me to play center, and because no one could snap the ball on junior varsity I played center for the first six games. Then I moved to tackle in the spring before my sophomore year, and was at guard for my 10th-grade year. I'm at left guard right now, and that's where I hope to stay. The colleges say they see me as a guard or a center. I just want to be there in the middle."
Who's been the toughest player you've gone up against in high school?
"Ryne Giddins (former Armwood defensive end now at USF). I had to go up against him my freshman year. That wasn't easy. I've never faced anything in a game that compares to going up against him. Only time I've ever been beat. I've been beat mentally a few times, but never physically."
You have a real chance to be Tampa Bay's best offensive line prospect in 2011-2012. That a big deal for you?
"It kind of matters to me. In a sense, that's really cool, to be the best around in the Tampa Bay area. But really, I want to be the best in the nation."