Former Bradwell Institute lineman Ulrick John was named to Georgia State University’s breakout candidates’ list for the Panthers’ 2012 football season, according to Chris Hillyard of SBNation.com.
Hillyard’s report is part of a series identifying five players who are possible candidates to have a breakout season for GSU as the Panthers look to improve on last season’s 3-8 record.
The potential candidates must have started fewer than six games for the Panthers and have been members of last year’s squad.
John was the third player featured in the series.
The junior is slated to start at left tackle this season, but his versatility in several positions is what started to gain him some attention last year.
According to Hillyard, John was one of the Panthers’ most reliable options last season when he started four games at three different positions.
Last year, John played as a center, left tackle and left guard.
During Hillyard’s observation of GSU’s spring camp and in speaking with the staff, he reported that the common theme when talking about the offensive linemen is that they will be much more athletic than they recently have been.
“It doesn’t take long to realize that John is one of the big reasons for that assertion,” Hillyard wrote. “One of his fellow linemen told me that he is so athletic that he could play tight end if he wanted to and be incredibly successful. At 6 foot 8 inches and 290 pounds, that would be quite the sight as John moves incredibly well despite his size. John was by far one of the best lineman on the field during spring.”
Hillyard thinks John has the left tackle spot on lockdown for this year and added John could emerge as one of the team’s leaders.
“Defensive ends will have a hard time getting around John this fall,” Hillyard said. “His size and strength combined with his elite athleticism make him the perfect left tackle … Panther fans likely know what to expect from John on the field, but it’s the intangibles off the field that need to be shown. Georgia State has suffered largely from a lack of leadership. With so few experienced players along the offensive line, John needs to be someone the coaches can count on to rally his teammates and become a role model for his younger counterparts.”
Hillyard said barring injuries, it would be hard to imagine John not being successful in 2012 and predicted, “John’s performance seems almost a given at this point. It seems as though the only things that can slow him down are being dragged down by those around him. Barring injury, he is your starter for the next 23 games at left tackle.”