April 17, 2012

Vonashek ponders future



KINGSLAND - Camden County offensive tackle J.P. Vonashek admits he was ready to commit to Georgia a few days ago.

But now, he's thinking things over.

No, his feelings have not changed about the Bulldog program.

During an interview Tuesday morning at his school, Vonashek used words like "home" and "family" when describing his affection for all things UGA.

In fact, Vonashek might be listed as a Georgia commitment today had his father Rick not been admitted to a local hospital with a heart ailment over the weekend, a situation which obviously put any personal decision like choosing a college on hold.

Fortunately, there's good news. Vonashek said his father is recovering nicely and his condition is being treated with medicine, taking what he described as a "huge load" off his shoulders, which has allowed him to re-focus on his potential college home.

Just suddenly, it's not just Georgia which wants Vonashek to consider its school.

After previously just holding offers from Georgia, North Carolina and Miami, Vonashek on Monday picked one up one from Florida State. On Tuesday, Auburn called to offer one as well.

Apparently, there's more to come.

"I was ready to commit to Georgia, but now that I've got all these other offers I just want to take my time," Vonashek said. "Ohio State is coming to see me and I think will probably offer; Tennessee, too."

Camden coach Jeff Herron isn't surprised Vonashek is getting the attention he is.

"He was ready to go to Georgia and all of a sudden, he had a couple of things going on, then all of sudden more offers, then the thing that happened with his father, so he was dealing with that," Herron said. "That set him back, but I think he also realized that a lot of other folks now want to come and see him compete against this level of competition. But I think when they do they'll be impressed."

Herron isn't kidding about the competition Vonashek and the rest of his Wildcat teammates will face. After competing in a weak football region in Region 3-AAAAA, the Wildcats begin competition this fall in Region 1-AAAAAA against the likes of fellow heavyweights Valdosta, Lowndes, Tift County, Colquitt County, Coffee County and Brunswick.

Vonashek - who transferred to Camden from Glynn Academy last December - apparently isn't scared of a good challenge.

For example, during practice for the Georgia Rising Seniors game, Vonashek and the rest of the offensive linemen were conducting a pass rush drill against members of the defense there in Atlanta for the December contest.

On the session's first play, Vonashek wasn't ready for Auburn commitment Carl Lawson, who put on a bulrush move, knocking the offensive tackle on the seat of his pants.

Vonashek was ready the next time Lawson made his move.

"I didn't think he was going to bulrush because the coach had just said work your moves. So (Lawson) tried to bulrush me, and I said all right, I'll be ready," Vonashek said. "The next time he came at me, I flipped him over with a hip toss and slammed him."

From the looks of Vonashek, defenders can look forward to more of the same come fall.

Since joining the Wildcat program in late December, Vonashek has added just over 25 pounds to his 6-foot-6 frame and now weighs 275.

"When he first got here, he was 248. I know, because I weighed him. He weighed the other day right at 275 and he hasn't slowed down," Herron said. "He just hit a growth spurt and worked his tail off in the weight room. He's been with us since the middle of December and I've seen tremendous improvement in his physical attributes during that time. He's got a phenomenal upside."

Yes, there's still work to do. But Herron is not concerned.

"He's got some ways to go in that department. He looks good in the weight room, agilities and things like that. But everybody does that," Herron said. "He's got to go out learn our system so spring practice will be a tougher time from and adjustment standpoint, but he is very coachable and has worked extremely hard. He's very focused on what he wants to so I don't anticipate any problem."

Wherever he decides to go, Vonashek plans to do so as an early enrollee, just like current teammates and Bulldog commitments Bryce Ramsey and J.J. Green (Green confirmed Tuesday will enroll early).

"I think that's going to help me out a lot because I can get up to wherever I go, learn the plays and gain the weight that I need to in order to maybe compete for a starting spot," Vonashek said. "So, that's the plan."