It's hard to imagine overlooking someone who's 6'7" and 285 pounds, but that's exactly what happened to Tristan Bounds.
"I was a ghost," said Bounds.
The 2021 tackle prospect, originally from Bethesda, MD, was playing at Episcopal HS in Alexandria, VA, but he wasn't receiving any attention from college programs. He was going into his senior year with no offers. So, Bounds made the decision to reclassify into the class of 2021 and play out his eligibility at Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut.
For Bounds, the decision made sense.
"I had already gone to a boarding school, so that part was pretty easy," he said. "I also wanted a good education. So everything really pointed to Choate."
Bounds was offered by the Hokies on January 16, and they made the cut in his Top 8 along with Boston College, Notre Dame, Michigan, Maryland, Texas, Virginia, and Vanderbilt.
Bounds really started to make a name for himself during the camp circuit last summer.
"Just getting to camps and demonstrating my game really got the recruiting rolling," said Bounds. "Then going out and putting it on film in the fall really rounded it out."
This past fall, Bounds rocketed up the recruiting boards. The guy who was once invisible to Power 5 programs now ranks as the 56th best OT prospect in the nation per the 247Sports Composite (3-star, 0.8628).
Bounds was primarily a basketball player growing up. His sophomore year, however, he decided to focus more on football, and spend more time in the weight room.
"He's got excellent athleticism," said Choate head coach LJ Spinnato. "I think his athleticism is on par with anyone at Choate. The thing with him is he's an offensive lineman, so he's got to get that strength to play low and roll his hips and become a more polished blocker."
Part of the slow start in Bounds' recruitment was his film didn't convey the accustomed dominance from a prospect his size. His technique was suspect and he had a tendency to stand up at the snap and the ball instead of staying low and driving with his hips into the block.
"It's hard to be strong when you're that tall without fully committing to weight training," said Spinnato. "The reason, outside of his work ethic and his character, that he's such a national recruit is that with that mindset and character he's going to put on 60 something pounds and be a stud."
While at home this spring, Bounds has been doing his best to keep up with a strength program. Without access to any gym, Bounds had to get creative.
"I built a weight room out in my backyard out of lumber," said Bounds. "So I had a bar and some weights, and I built a squat rack out of some old lumber and then built a bench and a pull-up bar."
"Tristan's on a bit of a different workout routine than most of our players," said Spinnato. "Our guys have a body weight workout routine that was given to them by our training staff. Tristan is doing that as well as some lifting just to continue to grow muscle mass."
Spinnato can remember when Bounds started to put it all together last fall, during a tough Tuesday practice in the middle of the season.
"It was in preparation for our week 4 opponent, Brunswick," said Spinnato. "And Tristian had not been playing well, and we kind of put the screws to him a little bit. We had him and another offensive lineman, who were not performing very well, line up and go against some of our better defensive players for about 10-12 reps in an Oklahoma drill type scenario. Halfway through those reps he really started to put it all together and listen to the coaches. Those last 6 or so reps were pretty dominant. And then from there, the tape really took off."
One of the major attractions to Virginia Tech for Bounds is his relationship with offensive line coach, Vance Vice.
"He's a super down to earth guy," said Bounds. "There's nothing fake about him. What you see is what you get."
The Hokies have stiff competition for Bounds, but if there's one guy in Blacksburg who's been able to close the deal on big recruits, it's Vice.
Bounds visited last season for the Rhode Island game.
"The atmosphere is awesome," said Bounds. "I grew up watching a lot of Tech games and my mom used to work there, so I was familiar with 'Enter Sandman' and all the traditions."