LOS ANGELES » John Krahn is among the biggest football players ever to don pads and a helmet. And he’s still in high school.
At one point, the offensive lineman — who started his senior season at 7 feet tall and 440 pounds — was even deemed too big to play the game that usually worships size.
As a kid he was forced to dabble in sports he liked far less — baseball and basketball — until arriving four years ago at Martin Luther King High School in Riverside, California. The size that kept him off some rides at Disneyland also put him past the limits of his local youth football league.
"I was too big," Krahn said.
Word of him got to King High coach Kevin Corridan anyway.
"People in the community were saying, ‘Hey, you’ve got to check out this kid," Corridan said.
Krahn already was 6-foot-5 when he started high school. He grew 3 more inches by sophomore year, the first where he made the varsity squad, and 4 more by this season, the start of his senior year. He believes he’s now, finally, stopped growing.
His combined height and weight make him bigger than any current NFL player and possibly bigger than any NFL player ever. Seven-footer Richard Sligh played eight games for the Oakland Raiders in 1967, but NFL records put his weight at a mere 300 pounds.
The evidence is harder to come by for the biggest high school player ever, but it’s safe to say Krahn would compete for the top spot.
The tallest high school player last year was Logan Routt, a 6-foot-11 quarterback in West Virginia who weighed just 220, downright skinny compared to Krahn. MaxPreps, which covers prep sports nationally, said it believesKrahn is the tallest player on a high school football roster this season. He’s likely the heaviest, too.
Krahn starts at right tackle for the King High School Wolves, who are coming off a 49-0 victory to improve to 3-2 but on Friday face Centennial, an unbeaten team and perennial playoff power as they begin league play.
On the field, Krahn’s unmistakable, dwarfing his teammates even when they’re in their three-point stance.
When he leads the Wolves’ charge into the stadium, he towers over them like he’s an adult who decided to suit up with Pop Warner kids, or a player in a video game who’s gotten an unfair power boost.
His highlight reel shows him flattening tiny-looking defensive lineman forced to face off with him.
Krahn is hoping to play at the next level but that could be a tall order. He can be surprisingly mobile for his size, but lacks the kind of consistent speed and athleticism displayed by the biggest players at the highest level in college and the NFL.
He recognizes he’s not ready for the college big-time and says he’ll play wherever he can get the opportunity.
Corridan said "there’s some interest out there" from colleges.
"The stories that are circulating about him are helping with that," he said.
The coach added that while he’s "kind of a work in progress" he’s also "a kid worth taking a chance on."
He’s starting by looking to get a little less big. Hearing that a leaner giant may be the best way to get attention from more colleges, Krahn’s been working on dieting.
He said his family has joined him in an attempt to ditch his usual fast-food diet for "chicken and stuff."
His family members have a lot less to lose, of course, since none remotely approaches his size, though he says he has an uncle — not an athlete — who was 6-foot-11, letting Krahn know he’s not a total anomaly in the family gene pool.
Corridan said he’s making progress, but it’s tough going.
"He’s leaned-out a little bit, but he’s still over 400 pounds," the coach said.