Any passing game worth its wings has to protect the quarterback, especially from the open side of the formation i.e. a right-handed quarterback's blind side. That's when your steamroller becomes an agile boxer, shuffling his feet, staying in front of his adversary while landing two-fisted punches to the chest that drive the defender to the turf or force him around the pocket.
He is the agile, mobile, athletic, bully mammoth with the wingspan of an Andean condor and the body mass of a brontosaurus. In short he is the quarterback's ultimate wing man for launching a potent air game.
When you consider the variety of qualities required to maximize that essential slot, it's little wonder ideal candidates are hard to find. But if you were looking for a player who defined it better than anyone over the last 20 years one name comes to mind — Jonathan Ogden.
Born in D.C. Ogden played college football on the opposite coast at UCLA where he became a consensus All-American. He was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens for whom he played 12 season before retiring last summer, having amassed 11 Pro Bowl appearances. At 6-foot-9, 345 pounds with long arms, quick feet, superior strength and athleticism that belies is size, Ogden is the archetypal left tackle.
Tennessee doesn't currently have anyone who meets the qualifications for that position, forget having anyone who approaches what Ogden brought to the tackle table. However the Vols are in the running for a prospect with Ogden type potential.
Chris Freeman, of Madison High School in Trotwood, Ohio, is relatively raw and decisively green but checking in at a reported 6-foot-9, 348 pounds, he is nearly identical in size to Ogden. He's also athletic with surprisingly nimble feet developed through a lifetime of basketball. Things changed one fateful day about 18 months ago when Madison's quarterback saw Freeman working out and recruited him to come out for the football team.
That was all the encouragement the super sized blocker needed. He took to the sport immediately but he wasn't ready for competition. In fact the first football game Freeman ever played in was the final game of his junior season which he started. He spent the rest of the time learning how the basics of the game, the intricacies of the offense and the nuance of the rules.
Now if you ever wanted proof that evaluating talent is nothing more than projecting potential, consider that with only one high school game under his belt, Freeman received scholarship offers from such programs of prominence as Florida, LSU, Miami, Alabama, Kentucky, Nebraska, Michigan and North Carolina State. He had in the range of 20 offers before he ever played in another game and his stock has shot through the roof since.
"I'm quick off the ball and have good footwork," Freeman told Scout.com. "I go hard every play and I've got a nasty streak too. I want to work on my technique and I'm in the weight room a lot. I'm also doing a lot of agility drills."
He is currently playing basketball when he isn't making official visits to prospective colleges. He is up to 330 on the bench press, which given his arm length and lack of long term strength training, is impressive. He squats a reported 525 and runs between a 5.0 and 5.2 time in the 40.
It's ironic that Freeman's parents discouraged him from playing football because they were concerned he would get hurt despite the fact he always dwarfed his peers. When he was in the seventh grade he already stood 6-foot-5, 260 pounds. Maybe they should have worried about him hurting someone else.
He has shown an aggressive style of play and has very strong hands which he uses to jolt pass rushers, arresting their inertia or knocking them off balance. He needs to polish his run blocking technique and his weight does fluctuate.
As things stand Freeman, ranked No. 34 among offensive tackle prospects, is considering Colorado, which he visited last weekend, Wisconsin where he is bound for a visit this weekend and Tennessee which he plans to visit on the last recruiting weekend of the 2009 season.
Freeman, who reports a 2.7 core GPA and is taking the SAT in June, could become the biggest hit in UT's Class of 2009.