In the first story written about Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame offensive lineman Ben Gottschalk on Rivals.com, he was identified as one of the best sleeper line targets in the nation. Then after a strong performance at the Los Angeles NIKE Training Camp, Gottschalk was ranked as a three-star prospect and a top 10 center prospect.
Now with colleges from all over the nation coming after him, it's time to remove that sleeper tag.
Ben Gottschalk has officially arrived.
"I think my biggest strength as an offensive lineman is my ability to move," he said. "A lot of offensive linemen you see are 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds. They're really big, fat and just sit there. They're just basically taking up space. With me, I like to be the aggressor. I like to get after it."
At the NIKE Camp, Gottschalk measured in at 6-foot-4 ½ and 265 pounds. It's that frame and his athletic ability that allows him to literally project at all three line positions. While Rivals.com ranks him as a center, he could just as easily star as a right tackle or as a guard.
"I'm really strong, too," he said. "I think with my strength and my ability to move, I could even play defensive end, if things don't work out on the offensive line. I think that agility is something that coaches see and they think I could also play guard or center, too."
What makes Gottschalk's story even more amazing is that he used to be a "chubby" kid when he was younger. But between the sixth and seventh grades, he had to lose weight to be able to play on his team. He lost the weight and ended up entering high school as a 6-2, 190 pound skinny kid.
He then worked hard at transforming himself into the well built prospect he is now. The end result is a talented linemen that already has scholarship offers from New Mexico State, UNLV and San Diego State.
"I have three offers, but they're from smaller schools," Gottschalk said. "My first offer technically came from New Mexico State, then UNLV came and so did SDSU. I know Oregon is interested. I went up to their junior day and loved it. Cal came by recently, too.
"A bunch of schools are going to start coming by here now that we're starting up spring practices. I've also talked to coach Roper at Duke, and they like me a lot."
Gottschalk doesn't mince words when he talks about favorites. He said he "doesn't like UCLA," would love to get an offer from USC or Oregon, is interested in what Duke has to offer, but would like to stay in the Pac 10 region if possible.
"I'm definitely thinking about staying in the Pac 10," he said. "Duke has been in touch with me frequently. I'd love to go to Duke. It's a great school, but they haven't offered yet. With Oregon, I fell in love with the place when I visited for their junior day. I also loved USC's junior day. It'd likely be USC or Oregon for me if I had my choice."
Gottschalk said he's built a good relationship with Oregon assistant Steve Greatwood, and he likes other coaches like Kurt Roper at Duke, Darrell Funk at San Diego State and Gary Bernardi at UNLV. But he said he's built an amazing relationship with Greatwood.
"He's an awesome guy," Gottschalk said. "I think I could have a good relationship with him if he was my position coach. He used to be my recruiter for my area, but now he does more of the Northwest. I think the receiver coach is now my area recruiter, but he told me he's going to come down and see me sometime this spring."
And it was sometime this spring that Gottschalk officially broke through the glass ceiling and can no longer be tagged with the label as a sleeper. He's the real deal and plans on proving to people that he's among the best in California this season.
"I love going up against the best, and I strive hard to be the best," Gottschalk said.