Few offensive linemen in the 2015 recruiting class compare to Sam Madden when it comes to stature. The 6'7", 335-pound tackle from Barnegat High School (New Jersey) dominates opponents and paves the way for an attack that reached the state championship game in 2013.
Madden, rated a 4-star prospect by 247Sports, ranks among the most coveted bookends in America. His expansive offer sheet continues to grow, as Louisville, South Florida and Indiana each offered in May.
The stack of scholarships, which began piling at a rapid pace after his sophomore season, suddenly stands nearly as high as the imposing athlete.
Miami, Wisconsin, Nebraska, West Virginia, Rutgers, South Carolina and Syracuse are just a small sampling of teams on an offer sheet that features nearly two dozen universities.
Madden, who is in no rush to reach a decision and refuses to limit his options just yet, has also received interest from Florida State and Alabama.
He spoke with Bleacher Report recently, breaking down an analytical approach to the recruiting process, his physical progression and the pride that comes with being a beast up front. Madden also examined the possibility of continuing his football career with current teammates who've also received substantial collegiate interest.
Bleacher Report: You’re part of a relatively new program at Barnegat High School (eight years of existence). Last fall was the team's first trip to a state title game, and you seem to be gaining momentum as a top contender in Southern New Jersey. What has the experience been like?
Sam Madden: It’s just an incredible opportunity. The coaches are great, and it’s a lot of fun setting so many first-time records. We hope to go on and win a state championship this year, so that will be another first-time accomplishment hopefully.
B/R: Teammates Cinjun Erskine (3-star quarterback) and Manny Bowen (3-star athlete) are also compelling 2015 prospects. There are plenty of offers between the three of you. Does it help to go through the process with them?
Madden: It’s obviously very humbling to hear from such incredible, prestigious programs like Wisconsin, Alabama, Florida State and all these teams. It’s a huge honor, and the fact that I have two brothers on the team that I can do it with is just really cool, you know? We have each other’s back and after (conversations and visits with college teams) we’re like “How’d you feel about it?” and “What would you like to ask more about next time?” That kind of stuff.
B/R: You share common offers with Erskine (Miami) and Bowen (Miami, Wisconsin, Rutgers, South Carolina, Virginia, among others). Have you spoke with one or both about continuing your careers together in the future?
Madden: Yeah, definitely. I remember a couple months ago, myself and Manny were walking through the hallway and saying it would be really cool to stay together and play together at the next level. To go from high school to college and play at the same time for the same team as my brothers, that would just be awesome.
B/R: I can tell you take a lot of pride in being an offensive lineman. What does it mean to you to be able to consistently handle your business up front?
Madden: It’s a huge deal being an O-lineman. We’re really like the unsung heroes of the team. In the trenches, that’s where games are won or lost. You miss a block, the quarterback gets sacked or the running back might lose the ball, then the other team scores. Without us, there are no lanes to run through, there’s no one protecting the quarterback. It's an honor to play this position.
B/R: With so many scholarship offers to choose from, how do you attempt to narrow down your options in order to find the right fit?
Madden: My dad and I for the past few years have made up a spreadsheet, and we list like the top 25 teams in the country from the last 10 years or five years. We’ll break it down. What coaching staff was there, what linemen were there, what round they were drafted in, how they did in the combines—it’s like a science. It’s a big process.
B/R: Has that method helped you come up with a list of favorites?
Madden: It’s still early and we’re only about halfway through the process, but right now I’m kind of narrowing it down a little bit. I don’t really have a top team yet, but some of the ones I’m really considering are South Carolina, Rutgers, Wisconsin, Pitt, Virginia, Virginia Tech and West Virginia. It’s just such a huge honor to get offers from all these schools, and I’m taking every one into consideration.
B/R: Which campuses have you been able to visit?
Madden: I’ve been to Rutgers a couple times. That’s a great staff. I like them a lot. We were at Pitt last year. Ohio State and Penn State, with Coach (Bill) O’Brien’s staff. Everyone I’ve met, I like a lot. They’re really cool but to the point. It was all serious, all business.
B/R: Learning proper technique and maintaining coordination can be difficult when you’re dealing with a large physical frame at a young age. How have you improved since you first reached the high school level?
Madden: After my eighth-grade season, going into the next year, I was quite huge, and not in a good way. I was fat. I met up with a few trainers who I’m still working with today. I dropped 60 pounds and put on a lot of muscle. I’ve made so many improvements in the offseasons because there’s always room to improve. Definitely my foot speed, just how I move, my hips, everything. Everything is constantly improving.
B/R: From an individual standpoint, what’s the main mission for your senior season?
Madden: Goals to me are a huge thing. I want to drop another 10-20 pounds. Right now I’m at about 335, so I’d like to get down to about 315. I’ll constantly work to improve on speed—hand speed, foot speed, everything. I want to earn some more offers and win a state championship. I want to put Barnegat on the map as an O-linemen factory. I just want our brand to be smashmouth, in-your-face, run-it-down-your-throat football.
B/R: Is the possibility of playing in the NFL on your mind?
Madden: Obviously it’s still so far out there, but that’s the ultimate goal. Make it to the NFL, start, dominate there and ultimately make the Hall of Fame. I know from high school, that’s way far off, but that’s a huge goal in my life. Reach the NFL, take care of my family and get things done.
All quotes obtained firsthand by B/R recruiting columnist Tyler Donohue unless otherwise noted.