Trautwein Looks To Make Impact At LT

With four senior starters gone from the 2005 roster, one of the biggest concerns this spring for the Florida Gators is developing an effective offensive line where junior Phil Trautwein figures to emerge as the starter at left tackle. This New Jersey native has spent two years learning as a backup and now it's his chance to become an impact player.

At 6-6 and 309 pounds, Trautwein has the long arms and quick feet you look for in a left tackle. He also runs like Lance Butler and Randy Hand which means he gets down the field in a hurry. He didn't see much action on the field in the last two seasons but he has worked hard in practice and he's learned his lessons well.

He spent his freshman and sophomore seasons as a backup at right tackle but this spring he's moved to the left side of the line to take advantage of his quickness. Drew Miller has moved outside from guard to right tackle so the Gators could have a pair of big, strong tackles with very quick feet. The toughest task for Trautwein this spring will be making the adjustment to the other side of the line.

"Last year I played right tackle a little more," said Trautwein. "Left tackle has been a little weird, but during the spring I am working at it. Its going well, the [offensive line] is going good.

Because the Gators figure to have one of the top defensive lines in the country, Florida's offensive linemen get quality reps every single day. Going against lightning quick defensive ends like Jarvis Moss and Derrick Harvey means the offensive tackles have to improve quickly but the experience this spring should pay dividends in the fall.

Trautwein knows his strong points and he knows what he most has to work on. He seems eager to learn. Nearly every day when he leaves the practice field, you see him walking with one of the offensive line coaches, going over the fine points of playing the position.

"I have a pretty good kick slide and I guess I am a good pass blocker and run blocker," he said. "I need to work on firing off the ball and my punch on the defense in pass blocking."

As a true freshman he was a backup to Randy Hand at right tackle. Last year, as a sophomore, he backed up Lance Butler. He learned a lot from them and he appreciates the encouragement and support they gave him.

"Lance just told me to work hard and never give up," Trautwein said. "Randy had great technique so watching him should help me."

He will be protecting the blind side of maybe the most talked about player in the SEC this season. Chris Leak will need to stay healthy for the Gators to succeed and Trautwein, by all indications, is up to the task. He has made significant strides this spring against extremely good competition that will only make him better.

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