At 6'-7" tall and nearly 300 pounds, one would think Peachtree Ridge High School's Alex Jauregui would have more than just one offer at this point. But an injury early in his playing career has held him back thus far.
"Toward the end of my sophomore year, I had a little injury with my back. I tweaked it again this past summer working out, but it's fine now. My doctor cleared me."
While not a serious injury, it still kept the Suwanee, Georgia, native out of action for a majority of his junior year for precautionary reasons. In terms of recruiting, it slowed things down quite a bit since junior year is such an important evaluation year.
"I missed the majority of the season actually, just to make sure my back was 100% healed. Since I knew I'd play college ball, I wanted to be sure. I took on more of a moral support role and supported the team and the coaches.
I had less than a week's worth of practice at guard and still played about 60 plays. We didn't make the playoffs. I played the 8th and 9th games against Mill Creek and North Gwinnett."
Though his game action was limited, Jauregui already knows he's going to be relied upon heavily next year and has plans to get himself in game shape.
"Definitely I want to improve my run blocking. You can never be too good at that. I want to get quicker, drop a little weight and get faster. I'm at 295 right now, and my target weight is 280.
"Definitely if we need a situation for a first down, I'm hoping to be the guy to get it. I never give up on a play and keep my feet moving. We play until the whistle, and it really shows for us. If one of us plays well, it helps the others play well.
We started off 5-0 last year and had a lot of injuries, but if we stay healthy this year, we can hopefully make it to the state championship as long as we keep working hard this summer and in practice."
Many college coaches are now continuing to evaluate Jauregui as a prospect. This spring and summer will likely tell a lot about what coaches see in him.
"I've been told just wait until spring practice and see what you can do, and we'll go from there. I only played a couple games this year, so coaches still want to see some more."
Early on, Jauregui was hearing from the powers of the South, but after his injury, many of them backed off for a while. However, one team has stuck by Jauregui the whole time, and that has put them at the top of his list. "Auburn, Florida, Florida State and Miami are all in touch. A lot of the SEC and ACC, and a few from the west. Illinois definitely stands out. They're really interested in me."
Illinois isn't exactly "just down the road" from Georgia, but that doesn't seem to be stopping Jauregui from planning a trip to come see the Illini in the near future.
"I'm thinking about coming up to Illinois for the spring game Easter weekend and seeing what they're all about."
During that time when Illinois really stuck with him, Jauregui was able to form a close bond with Illinois tight end coach Chip Long. Though the two haven't met yet, he is excited to meet his recruiting coach.
"I haven't met Coach Long personally yet, but that's going to happen definitely. We talk just about every week, and we catch up on how everything's going. I know he really cares about me just by the way he talks."
Jauregui is looking forward to making the most of every opportunity he is afforded on his visit, especially when it comes to checking out the academic side of Illinois.
"Actually, I was talking with coach, and he said I can go talk to just about everyone including the deans at the university and everything. I'm hoping to go into something like Business. That's what my parents do, and I'm considering that. I don't want to go to just a football school.
"Academics are definitely important. A lot of it will be how the program is run too. It's hard to judge that before getting to see it first hand, so I'm really looking forward to getting up there and seeing everything."
Alex wasn't sure how schools would react to his injury, but Illinois came through with an offer, and that has put them in a favorable position.
"It was definitely a relief getting that first offer. Also, it clears my thoughts about everything and helps you take everything differently. Knowing what you have on the table so far, it definitely put Illinois up there. After my injury, I felt like a lot of schools backed off, but Illinois was there the whole time and kept showing love."
Though Jauregui feels strongly about Illinois, he will still wait awhile to see what happens with some other schools. But don't expect him to wait all the way until February to decide.
"I don't think I'm going to wait until signing day. I'll probably have it figured out by the middle of my senior year. I'll be going to the Illinois camp, a Miami camp, and probably a Florida State camp. My team will be doing a few too. My schedule is pretty packed."