COLUMBIA — After sticking Zach Hudson at tight end his sophomore year, Tampa Sickles coach Brian Turner watched the kid grow to upward of 260 pounds and realized, rather quickly, where his future would lie.
By TEREZ A. PAYLOR
The Kansas City Star
“We just put him at tackle,” Turner said with a laugh, “and we ran behind him. If we ran to the left, Zach was on the left. If we ran to the right, Zach was on the right.”
Now, it looks like Missouri’s coaching staff hopes to be able to be able to run behind Hudson one day, as well, as the 6-foot-5, 285-pound tackle became the Tigers’ 12th verbal commitment for the Class of 2014 on Tuesday morning, joining three other offensive linemen.
“I like the opportunities you get as a student there, and the attention they pay to your future career,” Hudson said of Missouri. “I like the environment, the whole feel of the school.”
Hudson does not have a star rating from Rivals, but has offers from South Florida, East Carolina, Florida Atlantic, Florida International and Middle Tennessee State. His lead recruiter was running back coach Brian Jones, who Turner said started recruiting Hudson this spring.
“I commend Coach Jones for spotting him — Zach doesn’t go to combines or all these showcase things where kids get stars,” said Turner, who added that Hudson had also received some interest from West Virginia, Wake Forest and Arizona. “Missouri didn’t offer him right at first because they wanted to study him, wanted to see him. They did it the right way.”
Hudson, who said he visited Missouri within the last two weeks, helped pave the way last season for junior running back Ray Ray McCloud III, who Turner said rushed for nearly 1,300 yards and already has offers from Tennessee, Kentucky and Louisville. Sickles went 8-3 last season in Florida 6A, the state’s third-biggest class.
“He’s a typical lineman, a nice guy off the field but nasty on it,” said Turner, who added that Sickles runs the ball 66 percent of the time. “He’s very competitive, he hates to get beat and he’s smart on the field. He puts people on their backs a lot.”
That said, Turner said Hudson needs to continue to gain strength.
“That’s probably one of the things he needs to get better at,” Turner said. “He benches 315 but he’s not like a 400-pound bencher. He can squat 400 pounds, but there are probably kids squatting 500 pounds. … He’s not the strongest kid I’ve ever seen, but he will be.”
That’s because Hudson may not be done growing. Turner said that after Hudson fractured a bone in his wrist, a doctor told him that by the looks of his growth plates, he wouldn’t be surprised if he grew three or four inches. That means Hudson, who wears a size-17 shoe, said could one day reach 6-feet-7 or so.
But even if he doesn’t, Turner said Missouri could easily shift Hudson inside to guard, a position they’ve already talked to him about playing.
“They might try him at tackle first, but he might end up being a guard,” Turner said. “I’m sure they have guys that are longer who can play tackle.”
For his part, Hudson doesn’t care where he will play. As long as it’s on the offensive line, of course.
“It’s pretty fun being able to pancake a guy and see someone else score,” Hudson said with a chuckle.