Emerging OL High on Canes

Since he's only been playing football for two years now, Miami (Fla.) Dr. Krop standout offensive lineman Chris Rutledge is still learning the position. He thinks it's going well.

"I'm making a lot of good progress," he said. "The thing with me is I just have to keep learning. Keep my eyes and ears open for everything the coaches say."

That's because not too many kids stand 6-foot-6 1/2, 278 pounds and have the athletic ability like Rutledge. His 4.8 shuttle time at the NIKE Training Camp in April showed off his foot speed and lateral quickness. The talented lineman also plays basketball in his free time.

"I play a lot but I'm not playing for the school this year," he said. "I need to focus more on hitting the weights and getting ready for college. That's the biggest thing for me right now. I still play (basketball) in my free time, in school and outside."

Rutledge, a full academic qualifier, played offensive tackle, defensive line, and was the team's long snapper this year. He projects as an offensive tackle in college.

"The coaches talk about how people can't coach a lot of the things I have like my size and footwork," he said. "I just wanna get bigger, stronger, and learn as much as I can. I'm hoping my best days are in front of me."

The talented lineman said playing offensive line was a lot easier in his second year.

"Last year, I really didn't know what I was doing plus there were better D-Linemen around the county last year," he said. "This year, I knew a lot more and the competition wasn't the same. I wanna go up against the best every week."

College coaches from around the country have taken notice of his skills.

"I'm getting calls every day from coaches," he said. "I've got a bunch of offers and everything. I'm going to take trips to Rutgers (Dec. 5), N.C. State (Dec. 12), and Maryland (Dec. 19) in December. I'm looking at UM, Florida, and Ole Miss for my other ones, which will probably be in January."

Rutledge said he talks to UM defensive coordinator Randy Shannon on a weekly basis.

"He's been calling, just checking up on me," he said. "They have offered but I haven't gotten it in writing yet like the other schools have (note: Rutledge has offers from all his other favorites). I like him, he doesn't really pressure me or anything. I be likin' what he has to say."

The talented lineman said playing for the hometown Hurricanes would mean a lot.

"The thing is, everyone around here wants to play at UM," he said. "They might say otherwise but everyone does. Not everyone gets a chance though. If I get a chance, I think it would be a great opportunity. It's close to home and you know UM's gonna win."

The Krop standout has been to some UM home games this year and plans on being there again this Saturday.

"They have been having a few problems on offense lately," he said. "The O-Line seems to be doing its job. The running backs are getting through. They need some more receivers besides No. 85 to step up and they probably need to have their quarterbacks play better. They'll get it back together, just like they always do."

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