Traxler aims to be '1 of 5'

David Traxler got a taste of what the SEC and college football was all about last year, but he was limited by a nagging neck injury. This spring, he's healthy, more experienced and has his mind set on making a more lasting mark on the offense. Read about it inside.

Last year, as a redshirt freshman, Offensive Tackle David Traxler had his ups and downs, which consisted of backing up a pair of senior starters, getting the nod to start a couple of games and fighting through a neck injury that lasted a good portion of the campaign.

"I wish I hadn't gottten injured, but that happens in college football," Traxler, a rising sophomore, noted. "I fought through it and gave it everything I had, but it did hinder my progress some."

This spring - now healthy and more fit than in the past, Traxler has his sights set on making his mark with permanent ink.

"My goals are to be one of the five starters and to make an impact on the offense. I don't want to be your avearge Joe starter, I want to be more," said Trax. "I want to become more of a leader, if not for the whole team then for the offense and the offensive line.

"I want to make a difference. I want to be known as a player who can help provide the tough yards and who the quarterback can trust to protect him at all times. I want to be considered in the same breath with some of the great OL we've had here, like Marcus Johnson, Doug Buckles, Chris Spencer, Tre' Stallings."

Bold - but not cocky - talk for an offensive lineman still considered "young." But he's determined to back it up.

"I've worked hard in the offseason to get stronger. After my redshirt year, I knew what I had to do. I had to get my core and upper body stronger. I knew it would take time, but I am getting there. I'm a lot stronger than I was a year ago," Traxler proclaims.

In a 12-month period, Traxler has raised his bench press by 35 pounds and his power clean by 20 pounds - both significant gains in those lifts. At 6-6, 292 pounds, he looks lean and fit, just where he wants to be.

"I can feel that I am stronger. I am at the weight (OL) Coach (Art) Kehoe wants me for now. I'm ready," he explained.

He said Kehoe isn't as concerned about bulk as he is other physical factors.

"Coach Kehoe wants us lean, fast, in shape and tough," David noted. "He said between 290 and 295, for my age and development, was perfect. I'm sure in the next three years I will get to 300 and over, but for now I feel great."

Traxler is already singing the praises of Kehoe, who joined the Rebel staff from Miami in January.

"So far, he's been unbelievable. He catches everything on film. When we are watching film, he can see the smallest things from all five guys at once. Amazing," Traxler said. "He's already made a huge difference in us. I love the intensity level he coaches at.

"If you do something good, he lets you know. If you do poorly, he's not all over you berating you - he looks you in the eye and coaches you up. He wants us to be the best we can be and will do whatever it takes for us to reach that plateau."

Traxler is also a fan of the style Kehoe is coaching.

"We're going to attack defensive people. We're going to fire off the ball and get after folks. I like that. I think if you are attacking it puts the defense on their heels. We're not waiting on them to come to us, we're making them react to what we are doing," he assessed. "That's more fun."

David is currently, after two spring practices, number one on the depth chart at right tackle, He's battling with redshirt freshman Reid Neely, but doesn't really look at it that way.

"Coach Kehoe told us he's looking for the best five offensive linemen to be his starters and he'll figure out our positions later," David explained. "I don't know where I'll end up - I could be a guard when all is said and done, I just know I want to be in the top five group."

Trax is in phase three of his quest. Phase one was learning the ropes during the 2005 season. Phase two was the offseason program. Phase three is spring training. Phase four will be the summer offseason program.

"The summer will be big for me. It will be big for all of us," he closed. "We are pouring the foundation right now, but in the summer we will have to really turn it on and develop our bodies even more. We're all focused on doing that."

Will David Traxler reach his goals? If health is on his side, don't bet against him.

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