Richy Klepal is one of the top offensive line recruits in Florida for the 2013 cycle, out of Tampa (Fla.) Plant High School. At 6'4" and 285 pounds, Klepal stands out on the field. But it wasn't always that way. In the early part of the 2011 season, Klepal was not anywhere near as dominant as he was at the end of the year during Plant's surprising run to the state title. Klepal has picked up almost 20 offers this spring, and SB Nation headed out to Plant to chat with Klepal as part of the spring recruiting series.
I asked Klepal about the possibility that Plant could be even better this year. "Definitely. Every year it seems as if this team has almost started from scratch, and and we always hold on to some key guys. And every year, we find the 'diamonds in the rough' like coach says, who step up and make big plays. We're looking for those guys. We have new guys emerge each spring and we found a lot of them this year. We always hear that Plant was good last year but they lost this guy, that guy, that guy. But when the season picks up, there are always guys to fill those holes. So I definitely feel like we're on good pace to get going again, and we're going to be even better this year," He said.
Then Klepal talked about his conditioning, weight training and offseason development. "I don't have to get to 300 pounds until college. I want to keep my quickness and get stronger, and if I get to 300 pounds right now I want to do it the right way," Klepal said. And Klepal is focusing on some aspects of his game during spring practice as well. "Taking every play and really working on being aggressive and big every play. [Last year] I had a couple plays where I'd get pissed off and get nasty and have pancakes. This year, I want every play to be a pancake. I want to be especially feared on the line.
On the day of the interview (Tuesday), Georgia had stopped by to offer Klepal. "My coach told me today when I was checking in for practice after school. And I went and talked to Georgia's coach briefly. I wasn't able to get their offensive line coach, but I talked to their defensive backs coach, and he is our area guy. He sounded real excited. He's having me call him again after practice. I'm looking forward to that. It's overwhelming. Right after the state title game I didn't have any offers. And it just took off from there. It's been so humbling, and it just drives me to work harder," Klepal said.
Georgia has a special relationship with Plant High School, having secured commitments from tight end Orson Charles and quarterback Aaron Murray. "Plant has been good to Georgia. And I definitely play to make it up to Georgia over the summer, but Plant ties are everywhere, like James [Wilder Jr.] at Florida State and those guys. It's good to have a familiar face, and have someone to show me around when I'm up there," Klepal said. Klepal knows Charles quite well, because Orson comes back to the program to workout during the offseason, he says. They workout together and Klepal said that when he was in middle school, guys like Charles and Murray made it cool to be a Plant football player.
Klepal has a lot of big offers aside from Georgia. He doesn't have a top five yet, so I asked him if he would name some of the top offers he's acquired so far. "Miami, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, Michigan State, USC, and Florida State are some of my top offers," Klepal said. As for schools Klepal would still like an offer from, he mentioned Auburn, Florida and LSU.
Once spring practice warps up, he plans to take a visit to USC for its one-day camp. "USC is pretty much a factory out to the league out there so I definitely want to get out there. And with USC having limited spots, it means even more that they would come out to Florida and offer me," Klepal said. Klepal also plans to visit Miami and speak with coach Art Kehoe and see how they do things.
"And I want to get back up to Tallahassee. I love Coach Trickett. He's tough and funny, and I want to spend time with him and the coaching staff in a relaxed atmosphere and watch some film and really just get to know them more. I want to see how our football minds work together and be able to compare a little bit and see what really fits best," Klepal said of Florida State and its coaches.
Klepal plans to commit before his senior season. "As fun as the process is and everything, there is a big part of it that is annoying and stressful. You don't want to have to worry about offending other schools or worrying about if you still have a spot. One thing I've done is to only let schools contact me through Coach Weiner. He deals with it now and tells me who I need to call. They all run through him, and it's taken a big weight off my shoulders and I am really appreciative of that," Klepal said.
Aside from football, Klepal also seems to know the other factors that will impact his decision. "The distance issue is kind of conflicting. Sometimes it would be nice to be close to home, but if there is a school that has what I need and it's farther away, I'm not going to not go to it just because it is not close to home," Klepal said. "And academics, I'm interested in studying business with a minor in psychology or sports psychology or something like that, so definitely a school that I can get a good degree from will be a factor," he added. Fit is also important to Klepal. "It's the school that I fit in the most. I've visited some schools where I visited, and I was like 'this just isn't for me, I don't fit in here,' and there will be some schools that just feel right with the gut feeling."