By Joe Vitale:
Tedarrell “T.J.” Slaton is one of the nation’s most coveted recruits and one of the last top 2017 preps still uncommitted.
The number 3 rated offensive tackle in the country and 12th-rated player in Florida has a desire to play not only a different position at the college level, but also an additional sport. The athletic 6-foot-5, 350-pound American Heritage (Fort Lauderdale) product wants to play on the defensive side of the ball and try his hand as a power forward on the basketball court.
Slaton was an Army All-American at right tackle for the 5A State Champion American Heritage Patriots and was slotted on the defensive line during short yardage situations. He has narrowed his list of college choices to Georgia and Florida, with both SEC programs recruiting him as a defensive tackle.
“I cut all the schools out that offered me for offense,” Slaton told the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel. Heritage defensive coordinator Chad Wilson told the Sun Sentinel he believes Slaton will be dominant on the defensive line.
Slaton will have an official visit to Gainesville on January 21 and then Georgia secures the prime official visit date of January 28.
The Gators will be hard to beat, however. Slaton is very high on Florida at the moment and the fact that he is teammates with two Florida commits does not play into UGA’s favor.
“Florida is recruiting me for defense,” Slaton told SEC Country. “That’s kind of what I want to play in college, and that’s why Florida is my leader.”
Georgia is loaded with offensive line commits and need to sign another defensive lineman. The Bulldogs have a recent history with American Heritage recruits. Junior stars Sony Michel and Isaiah McKenzie and 2015 UGA graduate, place kicker Marshall Morgan, each attended the Broward County private school.
Slaton also wants to play basketball in college. He is averaging 16 points and 10 rebounds this season.
“I’m trying to get a scholarship for basketball, so I can play at the collegiate level in both sports,” he said.
His high school basketball coach, Brent Maffett, believes he has the footwork, power and athletic ability to excel around the basket. Watching video of Slaton playing basketball reminds me of North Carolina great Julius Peppers, who dominated on the defensive line and overpowered opponents around the basket for the Tar Heels. Georgia hoops coach Mark Fox may want to get into this action.
“He has good post moves, rebounds well, runs the floor well for his size and finishes around the basket,” Maffett said. “He’s like a baby Shaq — with his size and athleticism, he can kind of overpower guys.”
National Signing Day is February 1 and UGA Football Live will be at Butts-Mehre to report on all the Georgia signees.