It Feels Good to Be King

A report is featured on Auburn offensive lineman King Dunlap.

Auburn, Ala.--After spending his first season at Auburn as a redshirt and his second and third years as a backup to All-American Marcus McNeill, it is doubtful that few starters in the Tiger lineup were more eager than King Dunlap to get on the field opening night.

Although the six-foot-nine inch, 321-pounder from Brentwood, Tenn., Academy has seen a good bit of playing time the past two years, he notes that it felt good to be the main man at left tackle on Saturday night.

"I was really excited to finally get to start on my own, not starting for Marcus," Dunlap says with a smile. "It was good to get to do it at home and against Washington State, which had a really good guy at defensive end.

"I was kind of excited, a little nervous, but I got my mind together before the game," Dunlap says. "I was really, really excited the first drive, especially on the first play that Kenny (Irons) broke. That got my adrenaline going and got me through the entire game."

With Dunlap and the offensive line having a solid all-around performance, Auburn defeated Washington State 40-14. Next up for the fourth-ranked Tigers is the conference opener on Saturday at Mississippi State.

"We are going to have to be ready because it is a whole different tempo for SEC games," Dunlap says. "This team will be more physical than the first game was and Mississippi State will have more athletic guys. We are going to have to come after them because they are a whole lot better than they were a couple of years ago."

King Dunlap (77) is shown next to senior wide receiver Courtney Taylor (86).

There were concerns from head coach Tommy Tuberville during a physical preseason about Dunlap's back, which gave him some problems. The big tackle missed some practice time, but was full speed when the Tigers opened the season vs. Washington State.

"I am fine now," he says. "I got banged up and felt a little funny, but that was just a temporary thing. I am 100 percent now and ready to go."

Offensive line coach Hugh Nall says a key to success for the Tigers will be how well the guards, tackles and center interact with each other during games. Dunlap says he believes the starting group that features Jonathan Palmer at the right tackle along with Joe Cope at center plus guards Tim Duckworth and Ben Grubbs can handle that assignment.

"We work together really well on the field," Dunlap says. "We are all friends off the field, too. We all came in about the same time. We hang out together off the field."

Nall went into the season concerned because Cope missed a significant amount of practice time with a knee problem and there were injuries to backups such as Leon Hart, Tyronne Green, Oscar Gonzalez, Antwoin Daniels and even durable starter Duckworth missed some practice.

However, Dunlap says the linemen went into opener confident they could get the job done. "We felt like when we got Joe back from being injured we would be good," he says.

It won't be long before the offensive front has a chance to show what it can do in game two as the Tigers take on Mississippi State this Saturday in Starkville. Kickoff time is 11:30 a.m. from Davis Wade Stadium and the game will be televised regionally by the Lincoln Financial Sports network.

Big No. 77 King Dunlap will be lined up at left tackle for the Tigers and plans to enjoy being the every down guy after watching from the sidelines the previous three seasons.

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