Orlando University tight end Brandon Pylar, shown being defended by Kissimmee Gateway safety Isaiah Wharton at the NUC 5-Star Challenge in March, received his first FBS scholarship offer from FIU. (CHRIS HAYS/ORLANDO SENTINEL)
Brandon Pylar has been preparing for this day for quite some time.
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Orlando University High tight end has logged numerous hours working to advance his profile as an up-and-coming tight end prospect. Ever since he was first noticed at the USF Sling&Shoot 7-on-7 Tournament two summers ago in Tampa he’s been getting “looks.”
Finally, that’s not all.
Pylar got his first two college football scholarship offers this week from Football Championship Subdivision schools Wofford and Charleston Southern, but on Thursday, the big one finally hit.
FIU tight ends coach Kort Shankweiler extended Pylar his first Football Bowl Subdivision offer after attending University High practice on Tuesday.
“I feel a lot better. I’ve talked to Auburn, Michigan State, Kentucky, Indiana, and all of them say they are coming down in the spring ... but no offers,” Pylar said. “But now I finally got that first big one from FIU.”
The Sun Belt Conference Panthers have been busy with Shankweiler making the rounds in Central Florida over the past week. It’s a scene that new head coach Ron Turner has apparently endorsed and Shankweiler is making evaluations and handing out offers.
Pylar, who said a Vanderbilt coach was on hand Wednesday, was certainly becoming anxious as he repeatedly learned of news about other schools making scholarship offers to Orlando-area prospects.
“It was difficult because I see all these guys I think I can compete with getting all these offers,” Pylar said. “But now I finally got these offers under my belt and I’m right there with all the other guys and I feel a lot better.”
It was equally pleasing news for his parents Art and Kerri Pylar.
“They were really excited when I told them,” said Brandon. “I told my dad when the FIU coach came that I thought I had a real good practice and he was just saying the he hoped they offered me. They’re all really happy for me. They know I’ve worked my whole life for this and it’s finally here.”
Pylar figures the success University had last year helped give him some extra attention. The 7-4 Cougars won their first district title and advanced to the playoffs for the first time in almost 10 years. They did it with an impressive running attack that racked up more than 1,600 yards on the ground.
Individually, Pylar caught 22 passes for 407 yards and four touchdowns as a junior, a pretty impressive 18.5-yards-per-catch average for the tight end.
“The season we had last year definitely helped me out and I give a lot of credit to Coach [head coach Don] Stark. He’s helped me out big time and so have all my friends and family,” Pylar said. “I have to give a lot of thanks to all my teammates. We had great season last year and that brought on a lot of attention. I give a lot of thanks also to the seniors we had.”
Pylar, the No. 18-ranked player in the Sentinel's 2014 Central Florida Super60, had his hand in on plenty of the blocking in that rushing attack last year, but he vowed this offseason to get better with his blocking skills.
“It’s coming along really well, actually. I’m working with Coach [Antonio] Hernandez, our varsity offensive line coach,” Pylar said. “I get with the offensive line and just do straight blocking for two periods every day. My blocking has gotten a lot better than it was.”
Not only will his recruiting benefit, but so will that University running game. The Cougars still have some hogs up front like fellow senior-to-be King Belin, a 6-3, 260-pound tackle, to help plow the way. He’s also hoping that having starting quarterback Stephen Ulmer back will help with a more familiar passing game.
“I feel good about this year. It feels like they’re going to use me a lot more to make plays for the team and the coaches are going to give me opportunities to make plays,” he said. “We’re gonna keep it moving up the pyramid higher than we did last year, definitely.”
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting and now on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.