(Photo via Fletcher Westphal, twitter)
Ever since he was hired at Florida, Billy Napier has publicly placed an emphasis on his desire to recruit the trenches, and load up on offensive and defensive linemen. It’s naturally difficult to land top-rated offensive linemen simply because there aren’t that many of them- at least relative to other positions- but for the second year in a row, Napier has landed a blue-chip offensive tackle.
After pulling Roderick Kearney away from rival FSU last cycle, Napier and his two offensive line coaches, Rob Sale and Darnell Stapleton, ventured north to the Washington, DC area and took consensus four-star prospect Fletcher Westphal (Leesburg, VA/Tuscarora) away from a bevy of other top-tier programs. He took an official visit to Florida on June 16 after officially visiting Clemson and Georgia in the two weekends before; he’d also unofficially visited Auburn earlier in the month as well.
Other schools to offer Westphal include FSU, Miami, Michigan, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Michigan State, North Carolina, NC State, Tennessee, Penn State, Kentucky, and Pittsburgh.
You can watch his high school highlights here.
Right away, Westphal’s frame (6’8, 335) jumps off the screen. At left tackle, Fletcher Westphal is able to lock onto defenders (legally) and then render them worthless for the duration of that play. He shows an impressive ability to dip his center of gravity down low and then spring up and into the defender, with that momentum and good hand placement effectively taking his engaged defender out of the equation.
It’s not just an ability to stalemate defenders at the point of attack that makes Fletcher Westphal so difficult to play against, either. He keeps his legs moving and drives defenders backwards, clearing large lanes for his running backs to flow through. As far as run blocking is concerned, Westphal has everything an SEC team could ask for. And he’s likely still not even finished growing.
If there’s a weakness- or more accurately, a place for him to grow- it’s probably as a pass blocker. Scouts warn that his feet aren’t quite where they need to be to take on the pass-rushing monsters of teams like LSU and Georgia. He’s got the strength and the physical nature to do it, he just needs to improve his footwork a little bit. It’s worth noting that the most impressive plays on that hudl reel are almost all on the ground.
But Florida saw the same thing in Fletcher Westphal that Clemson and Georgia saw. This is a verified mauler of a run blocker who is more than capable of blossoming into a full-service left tackle at the highest level of college football. Assuming he improves that footwork and pours on even more muscle mass, he’s got the potential to become an All-SEC caliber blindside protector.
Westphal is the fourth offensive lineman to commit to the Gators’ 2024 class. He joins German guard product Noel Portnjagin, fellow DC-area offensive tackle Mike Williams, and Georgia prospect Marcus Mascoll in the class.