Offensive Lineman Hugh Laughlin from Athens Academy in Athens, GA received an offer from Tennessee last week, capping off a month in which he added double-digit offers from the likes of Florida State and Ole Miss among others. We had a chance to catch up with him and get a sense of where he is in his recruitment and what he thinks about the Vols:
Q: What’s your current height and weight?
A: “I’m 6’6, 285.”
Q: And what weight did you play at last season?
A: “ I played at around 260.”
Q: You’re new to the Offensive Tackle position, right? Talk about that transition and how you think your experience at Tight End helps.
A: “Yes sir, I transitioned over recently. First, blocking at Tight End is almost all going forward, so blocking as an Offensive Lineman involves very different movements. So I’ve been working on my pass drops a ton. But when I was a Tight End I was always blocking on the end of the line so I guess I was used to that a little bit already.”
Q: Do you feel like you’re going to be a leader for your team? If so, what kind of leadership qualities do you bring?
A: “Yes sir, I do. I plan on being a positive leader who loves on everyone but expects the best from them as well. I’m not the most vocal guy so I lead by example, but I am working on being a more vocal leader too.”
Q: You play basketball too, right and compete in track and field too, right? Talk about those and how you think competing in multiple sports helps you on the gridiron.
A: “Just competing year round. Basketball was actually my first love – I even thought about not playing football my freshman season but the coach talked me into coming out for the spring and I fell in love with football and have loved it ever since.”
Q: What have you been doing workout wise during the shutdown?
A: “I’ve been working with a trainer on my pass drops and footwork. I’ve also been doing a lot of body weight workouts. You’ve just got to keep grinding.”
Q: You’ve got some high-level academic schools after you. Talk about what you’re interested in studying in college.
A: “I’ve been taking a genetics class and that really fascinates me, so that’s something I’m interested in. I’m actually looking into enrolling early.”
Q: Where have you visited so far, and which schools do you plan to see after the shutdown ends?
A: “I’ve been to Georgia Tech a few times, it’s just right down the road. I went to Oklahoma this spring. And I visited Tennessee for the Vanderbilt game this past season. I’ve also been to UGA as a recruit a few times, but not in a while.”
Q: Did you grow up a fan of any school?
A: “I grew up a UGA fan. Their stadium is just a mile from my house.”
Q: Are you hearing much from them? Would they be able to get involved if they offered soon?
A: “A little, but not much. I’m still open to all schools right now so yes sir I’d be open to them too.”
Q:Are you close with Class of 2020 Tennessee signee Len’neth Whitehead from Athens Academy? What has he told you about Tennessee?
A: “Yes I’m very close with Len’neth. He’s just told me it’s a great school and a great place to go.”
Q: What about WR Deion Colzie? He’s also a high level recruit…other than Tennessee are there schools recruiting you both and have you guys shared any thoughts on schools?
A: “I’m very close with Deion too. Other than Tennessee, UCF is probably the only school recruiting both of us. It’s great to have him to talk to about recruiting, especially when it comes to thinking about where to take official visits. That’s the most stressful part right now.”
Q: Who at Tennessee gave you the offer and how did they deliver the news?
A: “Coach Niedermeyer. He texted me and asked me to call him. He said ‘We watched your film as a staff and want to offer you a scholarship,’ It was very exciting.”
Q: Where are you in your recruitment, and what schools are standing out at the moment?
A: “I’m taking it slowly right now and am open to all schools at the moment. Right now I’m planning on a December decision but if I go somewhere and just love it I might change my mind on that timeline.”
Q: Lastly, anything else fans should know about you?
A: “Just that I’m a very aggressive player. I love physicality and the game of football. I’m really grateful for all of the opportunities and can’t wait to play at the next level.”
Laughlin is an outgoing and confident young man with a lot of the physical tools schools are looking for in an Offensive Tackle. He’s clearly wide open right now and getting used to being a recruit who’s got offers from the likes of Tennessee. Given that he’s just recently moved to OT from Tight End, he is the kind of prospect who probably would have multiple other SEC offers had he been able to go on more campus visits and participate in camps, etc. But the Vols have made the move to offer and that seems to mean a lot to him. UGA could definitely end up a factor if they decide to get involved, and Georgia Tech with its proximity to home and strong academics could be a player too. But the Vols do have an interesting tie beyond just Whitehead. Laughlin told me that he was about to jump on a call with Tennessee OL Coach Will Friend, whose daughter was a preschool student of Laughlin’s mother a few years back. We joked that it always pays to be nice to your children’s preschool teacher, so assuming Coach Friend lives by that rule the Vols might have an in with that prior relationship. Laughlin’s recruitment does seem to be one that won’t be over soon, and with the Vols having a big need at OT and having extended a relatively early offer one can expect them to stay involved until the end.