Straub Making Most Of Final Opportunity

In this year's spring prospectus, Frank Straub isn't even mentioned as a competitor for a starting spot on the offensive line. The 6' 6"/316 pound 5th year offensive guard has apparently managed to go unnoticed except for the fact that he's currently running with the #1 offense.

Frank's happy to have the word "starter" attached to his name, but he's trying to keep it in perspective. "I feel good about it, but I also want to keep the team in mind. It really doesn't matter if I start or not. I just want us to get a win, but it does feel good to finally be running with the #1's."

Straub came to UC as a 1st team all-state offensive lineman from Lexington's Henry Clay High School. He already had the size (326 lbs.) to play Division I A football, but he admits he was lacking in another area. "I've come along in my footwork and speed. I've always had the strength to play. I just needed the footwork and agility to get to the position on the field where I needed to be. Now I'm trying to put the package together. Hopefully I'll be able to be a strong guard for the team next year."

The only scholarship offensive lineman bigger than Straub is offensive tackle Jeremy Bolton, and the difference in weight is only one pepperoni pizza. But Frank has been moved from his more traditional spot of tackle, down to guard. He likes the move. "I think it's been good. We also have some big guys at tackle so we're going to have a nice big line so we can keep these Big East tackles at the line of scrimmage and give our quarterback time to do what he needs to do."

The Bearcat coaching staff added two junior college offensive lineman in January, but Frank doesn't view that move as anything but positive. "We embrace everybody that comes in here. We trust our coaches that they're bringing in the people to make our team the best it can be. It just raises the competition level, and that's good for everybody."

Offensive linemen in general seem to share a special bond, and these Bearcat linemen are no different. "We're always in meetings together or usually roommates or eating together so we get to know each other pretty well. We like to poke fun at each other, but we're all good friends. If we have a disagreement, we settle it like O-linemen would and duke it out." I asked him to go into more detail on that answer since the thought of these 300 pounders "duking it out" sent chills down my spine. Frank quickly massaged his previous answer. "How about an eating contest since that's what everybody likes to hear about. Really we just get together and discuss it, and that's pretty much all there is."

Even though spring practice pits teammate against teammate in many drills, Frank admitted the competitive nature of these behemoths definitely comes to the forefront on occasion. "Our coaches teach us from Day 1 in spring ball that the defense is the other team, and they want to stop our running back. Anyone that lines up against us; we want to push them backwards. That's all there really is, but some times there's a little back and forth talking that might get you riled up. We really want to be ready to play every day no matter who's lined up across from us."

About a week ago during a scrimmage, Tony Carvitti somewhat embarrassed the offensive line with four sacks and two tackles for loss, but in a more recent scrimmage, Carvitti was much less disruptive. I asked Frank what changed. "In the first scrimmage we did a lot of #2 against #1 so Carvitti was put against some juco linemen who made a couple mistakes, but he bounced back; and this time there was more #1 versus #1, and we shut him down a little bit. But Carvitti's a good player too, and I'm sure he'll be back up there, especially during the season."

Finally, Frank was asked whether he prefers run blocking or pass blocking. "I like run blocking just because you can get off your feet and get ready to go. In pass blocking, you have to sit back. You can get the big hits in run blocking, and it's always nice to see your guy running down the field."

Like most Bearcat football players, Frank has taken care of business in the classroom and will graduate with a degree in the fall. He estimated he needs only three more classes to earn that degree, but Frank wants to become a teacher so he'll need to take some additional education classes to get certified.

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