If you thought Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze and offensive line coach Matt Luke were happy Saturday night when they gained a verbal commitment from Miami offensive tackle Robert Conyers, just think how relieved the gators living in the South Florida swamps will be in just a few short months.
Ole Miss’ latest football commitment is a 6-foot-5, 286-pound masher who is rated as one of the top offensive linemen in Miami-Dade county and the South Florida area overall. He’s also a young man who likes to hunt — gators preferably — when he’s not playing football or basketball at Braddock High.
“Two months ago me and my dad got a 11.4-foot gator,” Conyers said Monday night. “I was excited. We didn’t realize how big he was until we got him in the truck and his head was hanging four feet out of the truck.”
Conyers’ hunting escapades don’t stop with catching gators with a hook and line and then killing them with a bangstick. He and his father, who have been hunting together as a hobby for five or six years, also traveled to Africa this past summer to hunt wildebeests, warthogs and impala.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Conyers said about the trip that seemingly got him ready for his senior year on the gridiron.
Ever since the trip to Africa, Conyers’ stock in the recruiting world has increased. While Braddock head coach Frank Rojas said Conyers was known about as a junior, his maturation as an offensive tackle became evident this past season.
“In the 21 years I’ve been here coaching, he is the best linemen I have ever coached. That’s also with me coaching at different combines like the U.S. Army All-American game and the camps I’ve helped work,” Rojas said. “He will outwork a lot of kids. He has really bought into the system that we have here of getting better each and every day. Robert has never missed a workout. He started at defensive tackle for us as a sophomore and he never came off the field for us. He is a student of the game and when he locks on to someone, he drives him into the sideline.”
Conyers’ work ethic, coupled with a 3.5 grade point average, made him a target for schools such as Duke and Wake Forest during his recruitment. He said Monday that he was prepared to play at Duke due to his relationship with Luke, but when Luke headed back to Oxford to join Freeze’s staff, he became interested in Ole Miss.
Conyers came on an unofficial visit this past weekend and liked what he saw so much that he gave a verbal commitment. He is planning to return the final weekend in January for his official visit.
“I loved it, I like the whole college feel,” Conyers said about Oxford. “I like Coach Luke. He’s honest, he gets real fired up when you give him good news. I like his positive thinking. I like Coach Freeze, he’s just like Coach Luke is. He’s real, he has a real determined mindset.”
One-on-one work at various camps this past summer helped Conyers impress scouts. Conyers said he liked going to as many different camps as he could to test himself. He labeled himself as aggressive and someone who was technical with his footwork.
Making an impression
Larry Blustein, who covers recruiting for the Miami Herald and other publications in the South Florida area, said Conyers never shied away from competition.
“He’s a good player, a smart kid who has gotten bigger and stronger. He’s athletic. He worked hard over the summer and he had a good senior year,” said Blustein, who has Conyers ranked as the No. 20 overall prospect in the county. “He’s a natural tackle who has great feet and played very well against the teams he played against.”
Rojas said that Conyers was still growing and could end up being 320 pounds in the future. He added that Conyers was equally good at both run and pass blocking, but said since Braddock ran a Wing T offense, he got a lot of work at opening holes for running backs.
“We averaged 300 yards per game on the ground and we always ran behind him,” Rojas said. “He’s mean and nasty. He’s got good feet and hands.”
Conyers is the first player since the school opened in 1990 to be named to the All-Dade first team back-to-back years. He was also recently named to the Class 8A second team as a lineman. Conyers also played in the Nike Miami-Dade vs. South Florida All-Star game in December where he again impressed recruiters and those who cover recruiting. (January 17, 2012, Page 8)