2 MINUTE DRILL: OL Dallas Sandberg

IDAHO PICKED UP THREE VERBAL PLEDGES FROM O-LINE PROSPECTS BEFORE DECEMBER, a group that included mammoth Class 4A All-State selection DALLAS SANDBERG (6-5, 300) out of Bradshaw Mountain (Ariz.) High School in the remote town of Dewey. Last week Sandberg talked to GoVandals.net about the recruiting process, what tilted the table in favor of Idaho so early, and his plans for fall.

PLAYER PROFILE: Dallas Sandberg, 6-5, 300, Ranked No.151 OT

With four graduating seniors leaving enormous holes to fill across the Vandal offensive line in 2010, the Idaho coaching staff put a premium on signing an exceptional number of hosses in this recruiting cycle. In all, Idaho signed seven steak-eaters in the 2010 class, a group that includes two JC transfers and four high school recruits. In an ideal situation the junior college transfers (Sam Tupua and Charles Wiley) would be battling near the top of the depth chart this fall (Tupua is confirmed in for Spring Drills), while the high schoolers would be redshirted this year.

But anything could happen, and this is a solid class of linemen across the board.

Scout.com three-star recruit Mike Marboe (6-2, 280), ranked the No. 19 center in the country, was the first high school athlete to commit to Idaho, followed by Lewiston product Spencer Beale (6-5, 300), ranked the No.150 lineman in the nation. This would be just the beginning of the road graders to pledge Idaho.

Idaho offensive coordinator, Steve Axman, the former head coach at Northern Arizona with recruiting ties still connected in Arizona (he recruited redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Davis last year) would deliver Idaho's third prep OL commit. On November 11th Idaho received a verbal pledge from mountainous First Team All-State Class 4A selection Dallas Sandberg (6-5, 300), ranked the No.151 lineman in the nation, when he called Coach Axman with his decision to commit to the Vandals.

"They were all real excited," Sandberg told GoVandals.net last week. "I called Coach Axman and he was real excited, said great!"

And with Idaho's need to reload the trenches, we're confident a heavy sigh of relief was exhaled when they got the call.

Like all of Idaho's signees, the prospects in this class have the size to line up anywhere along the line. "Right now tackle, but I'm open to anything," Sandberg said when asked if Idaho was recruiting him to a particular position, or if there was a preference he'd like to play with the Vandals. "Anywhere I get to play, I'll be fine. I'd prefer to play tackle, I've always played that and I haven't played anything else. But as I said I'm open to anything – as long as I get to play I'll be okay. But tackle would be my first choice."

Does he lean more to either left or right tackle? "It doesn't matter," he said without hesitation. "I played a little of both actually [in high school]."

Sandberg had no other connections to the Idaho program, but became hooked on the school for its academic merits as much, or more, than its burgeoning athletic programs. In fact, the future criminology and biology major cited the academic environment as the tilting point in his final decision.

"Education was first for me," Sandberg said. "The degree I'm going into – or what I'd like to go into – they've got hands-on teaching. The student-to-teacher ratio is real low. And when I went for my visit I talked to a couple teachers and they really wanted to help athletes, and I really liked that."

His appreciation for what the school offered was so convincing in fact that the team's success last fall had almost no influence on his final decision. "I was going no matter what."

Obviously, a top-tier education wasn't the only reason. Hosted by fellow Arizonan Taylor Davis, a freshman quarterback who had a productive redshirt season last year, Sandberg also cited a comfort level in Moscow during his official visit the first week in November. "He was real great," Sandberg said of Davis and his visit. "A lot of the linemen stayed up and talked with me. I had dinner with a couple of them. They were all nice guys. They all seemed to get along, and they reminded me of my line back home.

"Just a real nice setting that I wanted to be in."

Fortunately for Idaho, Sandberg made his pledge before other schools could sweep in for a play on the powerful northern Arizona lineman. "I didn't necessarily have any other offers other than Idaho, but I had half a dozen others looking at me. I probably would have gotten a couple more."

All four high schoolers signed in this class bring exceptional size and strength, and at 6-foot-5, 300-pounds Sandberg is right there. "I think they want to get me up to about 320, but they'll put that on me when I get up there."

Expect that growth to happen in the weightroom. Sandberg has an outstanding power foundation to build upon, heading to Moscow already boasting a 360 bench, 520 squat, and 300 clean.

With his size and power, moving mountains could become his forte with the Vandals. "I'd definitely say I'm a run blocker," Sandberg said in describing his strengths in the trenches. "That's the thing I do really well is run blocking. My high school ran the Wing-T and that's all we did. I'm pretty good at getting up to the linebackers, and I feel that's my biggest strength – run blocking."

The ESPN assessment of listed several strengths ("once he gets his hands on a defender can use his size to wall and maul them; can get movement when double teaming or combo blocking") and areas to work on ("does not display good quick set ability in pass protection; will have problems with quick 1st and 2nd level defenders, however flashes the feet to sustain and finish linebackers if he can get to them"). The assessment went on to say the following: "This is a tough aggressive guy who works hard to finish blocks. Sandberg is a developmental prospect. His size is a redeeming quality but his overall playing strength, athleticism and explosion must improve if he is to succeed at the BCS level of play."

Idaho head coach Robb Akey's comments in the official NLI press release talked about Sandberg's character and addition of size to this class. "Another guy who brings size. We're trying to build the Wall of China to put in front of our running backs and quarterbacks. He's a first class kid; great family. I'm excited about what he brings to this class."

So what are his plans for this fall? Well, Vandal fans will have to wait until next spring to see what he brings to the field. "Actually I'm going to grayshirt," Sandberg to GoVandals.net, "and then I'll decide at the first of the year for next fall whether to redshirt or not. The plan right now is to come up in August and try to get accustomed to the things up there."

So there you have it. It would be ideal to see him on the gridiron this fall, but we have a feeling Sandberg will be one Vandal athlete worth the wait.

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