Former NFL Pro Bowler and Auburn great Willie Anderson is regarded as one of the top offensive line trainers in the Southeast, if not the country. He was working the Atlanta Opening regional camp late last month and had a chance to size up 4-star OT Tate Ratledge.
Needless to say, he was impressed.
“Very impressed with that today,” Anderson said. “I think he impressed the entire crowd. He impressed me with 1) Not only his physicality but 2) How well he took the coaching.”
Ratledge is and has been one of the top targets on the board for Georgia in the 2020 class.
His ratings and class rankings on the 247Sports Composite ratings continue to inch up.
He is now regarded as the nation’s No. 4 OT prospect for this class and as the nation’s No. 39 overall prospect.
He was named the “OL MVP” after a dominant showing at the Atlanta regional.
The near 6-foot-7, 305-pound junior at Darlington is a prospect that could see him ratings keep climbing into the 5-star range with further strong showings on the camp circuit.
Anderson sees that as a possibility.
“It is kind of hard to change a kid’s technique in an hour and a half with me trying to teach them,” Anderson said. “We just try to give them the basic rules to follow that I know as a pro and a guy who trains offensive linemen that really work in pass protection. I tell the kids the elite guys — the guys here who are really really good — can take information, digest it and regurgitate it. They can process and get it and get after it.”
“He did that. He was very patient and very good with his sets and when he got his hands on guys that kind of wowed the crowd a little bit. Once he got his hands on guys, it was over.”
The former Auburn Tiger spent 12 years in the NFL and is a true advocate for his position. When he sees a young defensive lineman bull rush an OL in a camp setting, he respectfully calls for the reporters on hand to not publicize that footage.
Here’s my yearly pledge to Head Coaches of Highschool teams. “ Coach Please Please I’m begging you to film enzone view for Lineman. The camera girl or guy always follows the ball and 70% of your Lineman’s hudl is useless for College Coaches. 🙏🏿 🙏🏿😀#WilllieAndersonLinemanAcademy
— Willie Anderson (@BigWillie7179) April 9, 2019
That’s not what those camps are all about and that bull rush, while effective in games, severely handicaps the offensive linemen in those settings.
That Myles Murphy vs. Tate Ratledge matchup
Anderson saw that as the clear “alpha” pairing of that camp for the OLs and DLs. Murphy had his most impressive reps of the camp against Ratledge. There was one stalemate, one win for Murphy and one win for Ratledge.
“That was a long day for him by then,” Anderson said of Ratledge.
Those were the only reps Ratledge came close to losing. Those were against the nation’s 2 strong-side DE prospect and No. 9 overall recruit on the 247Sports Composite ratings.
“Ball get off is great for him there,” he said of Murphy. “I’m sure the thing with young offensive linemen getting their low hands too high and then a hand can slip off and a guy can take you back with momentum. But within a day’s work for him? To lose at the most two reps out of 10 or 12 in a one-on-one is a great process day for him.”
Anderson said that offensive line coaches usually preach the following.
“If you can block a guy 80 percent of the time in pass protection drills then you are going to block him 100 percent of the time in a game,” Anderson said. “Because that defensive lineman has to worry about his contain and the run and his fits and so much other stuff than just rushing the passer every rep. Not just one-on-one pass rushing.”
Ratledge just saw it as a way to get better.
“I enjoyed that,” he said. “He’s fast.”