College coaches consider a number of athletic attributes when deciding whether a recruit will fit into their system. Of all the positions in football, offensive lineman remains one of the toughest to recruit for. If you play on the O-line and dream of winning a scholarship to play in college, here are the five things your future coach most wants to see in you.
During my research, I contacted college coaches to ask what they look for in an offensive lineman. The first answer—bottom line from all of them—was toughness. Coaches want to see an O-lineman dominate on the field in high school. (Read Tips to Dominate the Line.) If a player isn't dominating at the high school level, he definitely won't do so in college. Finishing a play with a defender lying on his back should be a consistent outcome when a coach watches you on film. (How to Create Your own Highlight Reel.)
Unfortunately, you can't coach size; some athletes have it and others never will. Ideally, an O-lineman is over 6'2" tall and weighs between 240 and 325 pounds. If you are under 6'0'', your likelihood of receiving a scholarship offer is slim to none. Depending on your body type, if you are under 240 pounds, a coach may feel you cannot put on enough weight. On the other end of the spectrum, anyone who weighs over 325 pounds raises a red flag. Obviously the heavier an athlete is, the harder it is for him to move. College coaches would rather have athletes add weight with a proper nutrition program than try to lose a significant amount of weight. Size also includes arm length and hand size, which greatly enhance an athlete's ability to block.
Pre-snap checks and adjustments need to be made quickly, which makes the offensive line one of the toughest positions on the field mentally. In contrast to other positions, O-linemen have very little space in which to make split-second adjustments. Coaches want their offensive linemen to understand their assignments, know who they have during each play, and demonstrate the ability to pick up blitzes and help their teammates. (Read NFL Offensive Lineman Andy Alleman on Taking Chances.)
This is an underrated attribute of a quality offensive lineman. It's not always easy for a big person to stay low and remain explosive out of that low position. However, athletic big men are able to do so, and this is what makes them special. Coaches want to see linemen who are able to get under the pads of their defensive counterparts and drive them off the ball.
Like defensive backs. O-linemen are often forced to move backward against opponents who know where they are going. You can't underestimate the importance of the ability to adjust your feet quickly and get into position. Coaches love to see an athlete's feet never stop moving. You need to have quick feet both to kick slide in the passing game and drive block in the running game.
Feel free to contact me directly on Twitter @PWCurran with any specific offensive line questions you may have.