Bloomington, Ind. – It took almost four years for the talk about Charlie Emerson to finally turn into action.
Ever since Emerson arrived in IU's campus in 2003, there has been speculation among the coaches that he'd be well suited to play on the offensive line. He had played on both sides of the ball as a prep at Staples H.S. in Westport, Conn., and IU's offensive coaches thought his 6-5 frame made him a logical fit to play on that side of the ball.
But there was one obstacle to the position switch.
"My defensive coach would never give me up," Emerson said.
While Emerson was an intriguing candidate on offense, he was a proving to be a productive player on defense. A year ago he started six games and totaled 23 tackles, three tackles for loss and one sack as a defensive tackle, and this past spring he was arguably the defensive line's most productive player after moving to defensive end.
That appeared to have him locked in to a starting defensive end spot this fall. But the development of some young defensive ends such as Keith Burrus and Jammie Kirlew – coupled with some dire needs of depth on the offensive line – prompted the IU staff to move him to right tackle Tuesday.
"They needed me to switch positions, that this would better the team," Emerson said. "Whatever I can do to help the team."
While he's only two days into his new position, indications are he won't be on the sidelines this fall. During his first day of practice he worked on the No. 2 offensive line, and during Wednesday morning's practice he split time between the No. 1 and No. 2 units.
"It's encouraging because coming from a starting defensive end slot, coming over to the other side, second or third string isn't what I ideally would want to happen," Emerson said. "It's encouraging that the that the coaches have confidence in my that I can play with the 1s and 2s right away. The only way to get better is to play against the best competition, and throwing me in there is helping me learn a little quicker."
There is plenty for Emerson to absorb, but he does appear to have the tools to make the transition. On the defensive side he's proven to be athletic enough to bring pressure off the edge, and it's athleticism that the IU coaching staff wants on the front line.
"Being 6-5, I'm 275 pounds right now, I've got quick feet – I'm quick enough to play defensive line," Emerson said. "I'm not the best at everything, but I have a combination of a couple of things that will help elude rushers off the edge."
Emerson doesn't have the luxury of having an off-season to learn his new position. Indiana's season-opener is only 2 ½ weeks away, putting him on a crash course to get himself ready for the Sept. 2 match-up with Western Michigan. He said he'd like to add 10 pounds to his frame now that he's made the switch, and he's trying to be a quick study for offensive line coach Bobby Johnson.
"(Johnson) just wants me to look at the playbook, get my footwork down," Emerson said. "It's important to get your footwork down and get the first punch. That's what he's teaching me right now, and everything else is going to have to kind of come on the fly."
Time Was Right For Emerson Switch
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