"There's something special happening."
D.J. Fluker was used more on the offensive side of the football at tackle as well as playing defensive line in Miss. At the time, Alabama was recruiting him heavily, but as a possible nose guard.
However, things changed again. Fluker came back to south Alabama for his senior year, enrolling at Foley High School. But after shining at the position at UA's summer camp, it was now evident someone with D.J.'s size (a good 6-7, 320) and footwork had a big future as an offensive tackle.
Fluker's surroundings have constantly been changing in the past four years, so he's excited about staying in one place for the next four- Tuscaloosa.
"I just found out I was named Parade All-American," said Fluker.
He sounded very proud. He knew he had come a long way since 2005 when his family was uprooted from the New Orleans area due to the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina.
This set into motion the series of changes in venue for Fluker, so making the switch from the defensive line to the offensive line was only one more thing he had to adjust to in his life.
"I felt I continued to improve as the season went on and got more comfortable at tackle," Fluker said. "Alabama was the first school to start recruiting me as a sophomore, and it was for defense. Sometimes I miss playing it, but I'm getting better and better (at tackle) with my technique."
So good in fact, Fluker was selected to participate in the U.S. Army All-American game in San Antonio, was named 1st team All-State, and Offensive Player of the Year.
He's also expected to come in and compete for a starting position at left tackle left vacant by Outland Trophy winner, Andre Smith. Big shoes to fill indeed, maybe not for someone with a size 22 shoe.
"My goal is to come in and start at left tackle and make a big impact as a freshman and help our team win," said Fluker. "Coach Saban told me to get ready."
So how does Fluker prepare himself to take the SEC by storm?
"Well right now, I've been working out, running a lot. I'm trying to get my legs stronger. My upper body's good, but I've been concentrating on my lower body by jumping rope and running to get my feet quicker," he explained.
Fluker's offer sheet was comprised of most of the major football programs in the country. SEC schools like Florida, LSU, Auburn, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Tennessee all had their sights set on Mr. Fluker. Clemson, FSU, and Oklahoma were players in acquiring his signature as well.
He decided to sign with the Tide early, and was the first player to commit in the 2009 class.
"I went there (Tuscaloosa) on a lot on visits," said Fluker. "I'd drive up for games and loved the atmosphere. One big reason I committed is the great relationship I have with the coaching staff."
"I'm real close with Coach Saban. Coach Pendry, he's awesome. I know they can help me reach my full potential. Alabama has great academics too, and I'm excited about getting a degree."
Fluker shared a special connection with Lance Thompson who was his primary recruiter at Alabama. Thompson took a position with the Tennessee Volunteers staff in the off-season.
"I was surprised," said Fluker. "But then I thought about it for awhile and if I had been given the opportunity, I'd probably do it too. I understand it was a business decision. We're still friends."
Fluker thinks the incoming talent will help the Tide build even further on their recent success.
"We had a good year last year," he said. "With the talent coming in this year to go along with what's already there, we're going to be at the top again. There's something special happening (at Alabama), and I want to be a part of it."
Fluker is eligible to play his freshman season, and reports a 3.2 GPA. He hopes to wear jersey No. 72. 'Bama fans are accustomed to seeing No. 71 at left tackle, but change is inevitable. With guys like D.J. Fluker coming aboard, it sure makes changes a whole lot easier. He's an ol' pro at it by now.
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