Fluker Is ‘Whole New (6-6, 335) Person'

At one time, D.J. Fluker was probably accustomed to having to reinvent himself. His family was uprooted from New Orleans by Katrina. He played on the defensive line at McGill-Toolen in Mobile in 2006, then moved to Biloxi, Miss., for his junior season in 2007. It was there he got some experience as an offensive lineman. In 2008 it was back to Alabama, to Foley High School.



Prior to his senior season, D.J. Fluker was considered a defensive lineman, including working on defense in the summer Alabama football camp. The Crimson Tide was reportedly recruiting him as a nose tackle. But at Foley the 6-6, 320-pound Fluker was moved to offensive tackle.

That turned out okay. He finished as a Scout.com four-star prospect as he became a member of the Bama freshman class of 2009. In fact, he was the first to commit to the Crimson Tide to be a member of that class.

Fluker was redshirted in 2009, and then became the starter at right tackle last year and played in 10 games, starting nine of them. He suffered a groin injury against South Carolina and missed Bama's games against Ole Miss, Tennessee, and LSU.

He was Freshman All-Southeastern Conference last year.

And he thinks he'll be better this year.

"I'm a whole new person this year," Fluker said. "I understand the offense. I understand the tackle position. I understand the plays. I understand the defense. I'm like a whole new person."

And not a whole lot bigger person.

Fluker said that he is in the best shape of his life, a tribute to the summer workouts. "I lost a couple of pounds," he said. "I'm kind of stable at 335 now." And he still wears "only" a size 22 shoe.

Fluker said the offensive line has been working hard, both on pass protection and run blocking.

The big news on the offensive line has been the search for a left tackle. Fluker has not had a look at that position. But Barrett Jones, who played right guard last year, has worked there, and so has true freshman Cyrus Kouandjio.

Last year Fluker had Barrett Jones beside him at right guard. "That kid can play any position on the field," Fluker said. "I wouldn't doubt that he could play runner or receiver. He's done a great job. Moving from right guard to left tackle takes a lot of work and takes having a lot of pride in doing the job, and he's been doing a great job."

Fluker has naturally kept an eye on Jones's successor at right guard. He said Anthony Steen "is doing a really good job. He's a downhill guy, ready for action, ready to go after anybody. He's really an explosive player."

Not many offensive linemen are starters as freshmen. Most are redshirted (as were Jones and Steen, for instance). This year could be one of those exceptions.

Fluker said that true freshman Kouandjio "is a good player. He's working hard. He's dedicating his time, staying after meetings, trying to learn more and more about the position."

Fluker has also been paying attention to some of the young Alabama defensive linemen. He gave his opinions of a few of them:

"D.J. Pettway reminds me a lot of Marcell Dareus with his speed and athleticism."

LaMichael Fannis "is a real strong kid, I can tell you that right now. He's real explosive. He reminds me of Rolando McClain."

Junior college transfer Quinton Dial "has been doing a great job in pass rush. For run stopping, he's been improving each day. He's a competitor. What more can you ask for?"

Ed Stinson "is a good run stopper, a good pass rusher. He's improved a whole lot. He's been working his tail off every day."

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