Longacre taking things one day at a time

There are no guarantees on the offensive line this year, other than there will likely be three new faces in the starting line-up. One player trying to make a good enough impression to crack the line-up for the opener at Utah is redshirt freshman Joe Longacre.

Longacre has been in Tucson for quite a while, but is still a bit of an unknown to Wildcat fans. He was a key member of Katy High School's state championship team and was named one of the 36 players from high schools in the Houston area to represent Team USA in the NFL Global Junior Championship games. Despite these accomplishments, Longacre and his family purposely kept him away from recruiting services, making him a mystery on signing day.

Linemen are never the most well known players and a lot of fans forgot about Joe as he redshirtted his first year on campus.

Fans may not know much about Longacre, but the coaches do. The young blocker was solid on the scout team and it was apparent early on that he could fight for a coveted starting spot.

"He's a young guy who shows a lot of promise," said offensive line coach Eric Wolford. "He just has to get a little stronger."

Longacre may need to get a bit stronger, but his size is impressive. He came to campus over 300 pounds and is currently listed at 6-4, 310.

Longacre is a very versatile player, but that is both a blessing and a curse. While the coaches love the fact that he has been able to play guard, tackle and center during the spring, he really needs to find a position that he can stake his claim on.

Most assume that he'll wind up at guard.

Longacre is pleased with his performance so far.

"I feel like I am doing alright," he said modestly. "There's stuff I need to work on, but I am excited to be out here. I am taking it one day at a time and hopefully it works out."

Obviously Longacre has seen Bull Durham because every thing he says involves taking things "one day at a time." Either Crash Davis' advice to "Nuke" LaLoosh on interviewing has taken hold or else Wolford's been preaching daily improvement.

"I think we just take it day by day," Longacre said. "We think of something we need to work on for that day and just emphasize that and never stop getting better."

A question on how spring as a whole has gone leads to a very similar answer.

"It's going great so far," Longacre explained. "We're taking steps in the right direction. We've got to keep improving every day."

This is Longacre's first spring practice and there is a bit more to it than your standard high school spring ball. Even though football is a religion in Texas, high school spring drills are nothing like this.

"It's very intense," said Longacre. "It's a big change, but I really like it a lot."

My limited exposure to Longacre has always been positive. I spoke with him briefly last year at media day and again for this feature. On both occasions he has been polite and easy to chat with. I know some people who have tailgated with his father and say that the elder Longacre is also a nice guy and that they too have heard that the apple does not fall far from the tree.

Off the field that is.

On the field Longacre has a bit of a mean streak, the kind that Wolford likes to see in his linemen. He also has a passion for the game that Wolford looks for when recruiting his charges.

"He's a guy that the game means a lot to," said Wolford. "When the games means that much to someone you know he'll continue to work to improve."

E-mail Brad at bradallis@msn.com

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