"If Nebraska offered, I'd probably commit"

I know you have heard of how offensive linemen are graded sometimes on how many "pancake" blocks they get in a game. At other schools, there's a variety of complex systems meant to rate the guys down in the trenches if only to quantify in numbers just what they are or aren't doing. How about "Mean" points though? That's right. You smack someone and then, smack them again, that's a "mean" point and THAT'S how linemen are supposed to play.

Jesuit High's (New Orleans) Eric Block has a personal best of 20. No, that's not pancake blocks, the statistic more often kept in evaluating offensive linemen than any other. That's "mean" points. Points that indicate just how aggressive that lineman is throughout the course of a game, something essential for success down in the trenches. "Our line coach is always stressing that you can play with a lot of technique, but if you are not going to play mean, you are never going to be a dominant player." Eric said.

"So, we have this thing called "mean points" that when you do something that the coach things is worth one, you get a point. And, I think the most I have gotten in a game is 20."

Ok, so what does it take to get a "mean point"? It's not like offensive linemen are ultra cuddly down there as it is, so to take it to that next level of physical and mental aggression, just what qualifies as something worthy of being truly "mean"? "If I got my guy and I knocked him on his back, I make sure he stays down by giving him an extra shove." Eric said. "Or, if there's like a dog-pile on one of my guys, I just run as fast as I can and clean someone right off the top of the pile."





Some might call this style of play slightly if not blatantly "dirty", but Eric said that everything that's done is almost always done between the whistles. "You don't want to get a penalty every time." he said. "So, you have to be smart, but you can't let the other guy think that you aren't going to take him out even if the whistle has already gone off."

It's about domination. It's about unrelenting aggression to physically dominate the man across from you, but leave an impression that he doesn't want to take you on again. Eric said that this "mean-point" system has helped everyone, because it shows in the guys lined up across from him. "I can't tell you how many times I have blocked some guy early in a game and made sure he was down by giving him an extra hit." Eric said. "They get so tired of fighting you and getting body-slammed to the ground, by the third quarter, they are just letting you block them."

"That's just the best."

That's not THE best feeling though as Eric talks about the opportunities he has as a lineman that is asked to "pull" on a pretty frequent basis. A running start, those valuable "mean points" looking in his mind, woe betide the linebacker that doesn't see Block circling around the corner. "Because we pull so much, I really get to lay it on linebackers." Eric said. "And, most don't see you coming, so when you get one of those, you just take him out."

Starting to see a trend here? Yeah, I thought you might. Eric Block is just plain mean. He said that all the success he has had as a lineman is due to the fact that though he can bench an impressive 375 lbs. and squat over 500, it's the attitude you have that is the difference between someone good and someone totally dominant. "Being mean is about finishing off your blocks." he said. "Until that whistle blows, you don't stop, so even if he's down, if I don't hear that whistle, I am going to make sure he's down and hit him again. That's the difference between maybe a five yard play and one that goes for a touchdown."

I doubt you will get any argument from college coaches looking for offensive linemen as that kind of attitude is essential to success at almost any level. For Block, it hasn't translated to any written offers, but he said that he's been getting some pretty intense interest from a lot of schools close and some from afar. "Michigan State has shown a lot of interest in me." Block stated. "LSU, Alabama, Auburn and Souther Miss all seem pretty serious right now."

There is one school though that despite them not being included amongst that list of those apparently the most interested right now, they are a school that he looks to as probably the only school that if they offered, he would commit on the spot. "If Nebraska offered me, I'd probably commit." Block stated. "They are just the type of team I like. I know that when they were beating up on everyone, they just had this bad-ass reputation. They played mean, they knocked guys around and they just dominated everyone."

"I want to be part of that kind of tradition, so if they offered, it'd be hard not to commit on the spot."

Block has actually visited Nebraska once already, unofficially of course and said that cemented NU as the team to beat. "It was awesome." Block said of the program. "The facilities, all those awards, there's so much tradition there it's crazy. Plus, the entire state is devoted to that program. It's like if you live in Nebraska and you aren't a Big Red fan, you need to get the heck out of the state."

"I like that."

If you want them fast, Eric's not a bad choice with a 5.1/40. If you want them strong, well, his numbers already say he's a good choice there as well. But, if you want them "mean", it seems like you would have to look no further than him. His coach demands it. Heck, he rewards it. But, Eric would actually have it no other way. "It's the way you dominate." he said. "The meaner you are, the more the other guy doesn't want to play you. That's when you win."

Block doesn't have any plans set yet as to any unofficial visits or camps for the rest of the Summer. Block also scored a 29 on his ACT, but will retake in attempt to get above 30.

Steve Ryan can be reached at huskerconnection@neb.rr.com or 402-730-5619

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