Chris Rutledge is a 6-foot-6, 315-pound offensive lineman. He wants to get down to his target weight of 295, but if he can be in the 300-305 range this upcoming season he will be just fine.
Rutledge entered the spring as the second-string left tackle until he suffered a minor ankle sprain. He hopes to be back tomorrow for the spring game at Lockhart Stadium.
Prior to his injury he was progressing well and learning the offensive playbook.
"It was going all right," Rutledge said. "I was learning the plays and felt I was coming along real well."
Last year Rutledge redshirted and was working on the scout team until he suffered a herniated disc in his back, which kept him out a number of practices.
"The redshirt was a good experience for me," Rutledge said. "But it was kind of hard for me to deal with because I was sitting out just watching my teammates."
Like many incoming freshmen, adjusting to the speed of the game is the hardest adjustment to make on the field.
"The speed is the biggest difference," Rutledge said. "Everyone was zooming by when I first got here. In high school everyone is pretty much on the same page. But here everything is fast."
Rutledge was one of many current Hurricanes who played their high school ball in South Florida. Playing in South Florida where speed is key, gives players an added advantage.
"South Florida is all about speed and quickness," Rutledge said. "In high school if you had the fastest guys on the team, nine times out of 10 you were going to win."
Rutledge's roommate Tyrone Byrd has made a big splash onto the scene this spring with his work on the first-team and now as the team's center passing by two juniors.
"I give him great credit for what he is doing," Rutledge said. "He works hard every day and does not back down from any challenge.
Rutledge and Byrd have very similar personalities off the field and will study the playbook frequently at night in their dorm room. They both have the same goal in mind.
"Our game is a little different, but we both have the same goal," Rutledge said. "We both want to win."
Rutledge is in line to be the starting left tackle in 2006 and will play behind Eric Winston this year. Winston, an All-American candidate, has offered Rutledge guidance since his arrival.
"Eric has helped me out a lot," Rutledge said. "He has helped me out with a lot of things I should know early on. I think that is why I am further along in the playbook."
The 2006 starting lineup figures to have Rutledge at left tackle, Derrick Morse and Andrew Bain at the guard positions, and Byrd at either center or right tackle.
Anthony Wollschlager, Alex Pou, Cyrim Wimbs, and possibly the 2005 signees figure to be in the mix for the final starting position in 2006.
Practice resumes today at 3 pm and concludes tomorrow at noon with the spring game.
Christopher Stock is a Senior Writer & Assistant Editor for CanesTime and can be contacted by emailing him at email@example.com
Rutledge Has Bright Future at LT
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