Florida needs offensive linemen. JUCO prospect Branton Autry of Coffeyville Community College in Kansas is an offensive lineman. Ergo, Florida landing a commitment from Autry, as it did Wednesday afternoon, is sort of a big deal.
Autry is variously listed at around 6'5" and 320 pounds, so he has excellent size for the position, no matter whether he ends up at tackle or guard. He's also rated as a three-star prospect by the 247Sports Composite, but as a four-star player by 247Sports, specifically.
And in his highlight tape from the 2014 season, in which he was named an all-conference performer, he looks like a mauler who gets his hands on defenders and finishes plays.
Autry is Florida's 12th commit for the 2016 recruiting cycle, and its second JUCO commit (following running back Mark Thompson) and second offensive lineman commit (following tackle Stone Forsythe); Florida now ranks 14th nationally, according to 247Sports. He'll be an early enrollee at Florida, arriving in January 2016 with three years left to play two years for the Gators.
And, no, an offensive lineman will never be a truly exciting pickup on the recruiting trail. But it's worth noting that Jim McElwain is building a great wall of men who will stand tall in orange and blue, and in a hurry.
Florida currently has just eight scholarship offensive linemen on campus, and just one of them, center Trip Thurman, has taken a snap in a collegiate game before. Florida should, though, have a total of 13 scholarship linemen this fall, and is now currently projected to have 14 linemen in 2016 — none of whom will be seniors.
The growing pains of this fall could be significant; few effective arguments against that prospect exist. But Florida may well emerge from it with the core of an offensive line that could stay together for the next two or three years — and that's testament to McElwain's work as a mason, laying big bricks in Florida's foundation.