Jumbo-sized lineman on Ravens' radar

OWINGS MILLS -- Taitusi "Deuce" Lutui built a reputation for power and hustle at USC, often springing Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush for yardage and then lumbering downfield in case he needed another defender walled off.

The second-team All-American offensive guard is a potential target for the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL draft, most likely in the second round where they hold the No. 44 overall pick. Projected as a late first-round draft pick or early second-round selection, Lutui met with the Ravens at the Senior Bowl and the scouting combine.

Lutui weighed nearly 400 pounds when he arrived at USC after attending Snow Junior College (Utah). Now, he tips the scales at a more svelte 330 pounds and was measured at 6-foot-3 ½ at the combine where he ran the 40-yard dash in 5.37 seconds.

"I have always been one big boy," Lutui told reporters at the scouting combine. "When I want to, I can eat. I'm trying to cut down, but I love my rice and those carbs."

Lutui has visited the Detroit Lions, New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers and has no other visits currently scheduled. Lutui attended high school in Mesa, Ariz., but didn't qualify academically for a scholarship to Utah.

A native of Tonga like former Ravens nose guard Maake Kemoeatu, Lutui survived a major car accident when he was 6 years old that killed his sister and disabled his father.

"It was a trauma for us all," Lutui said. "I was determined after that to make something of my life. My parents were hurt, but I felt they had brought us to this country for a purpose.

"As a teenager, I had to take care of the family. I was the one paying the bills. My parents, coming from the Tongan islands, weren't too familiar with the American system."

Lutui appears to fit the Ravens' mold as a physical blocker who thrives in a run-first offense. He's also versatile enough to play tackle in a pinch, excelling on the right side when Winston Justice was suspended for the entire 2004 campaign as the Trojans won the national title.

"The Ravens have showed interest in Deuce, and I think he's their kind of player," said Lutui's agent, Max Hannemann, in a telephone interview from Hawaii. "Deuce is a very mature guy, already married with a wife [Pua Lutui) and a son [Inoke Liuaki Moeltau]. He's a true football player who's always looking for someone to knock down.

"I know some other guards have made visits to Baltimore, so it's all about what round they plan to use a pick on a guard. If they want to wait until the fourth or fifth round, I don't see my client being there."

Baltimore has hosted fellow USC offensive guard Fred Matua, a projected fourth round selection, along with Oklahoma center-guard Chris Chester.

North Carolina State defensive tackle John McCargo, who visited the team's training complex Monday, said the Ravens indicated to him that they are leaning toward drafting a defensive tackle in the first or second round.

A few NFL decision-makers reportedly rank McCargo as high or higher than Oregon defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and Florida State defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley, both of whom have visited Baltimore and are strong possibilities if available when the team is on the clock with the 13th overall pick.

Besides Ngata and Bunkley, several other defensive linemen are projected into the first round, including: Mario Williams (North Carolina State), Kamerion Wimbley (Florida State), Manny Lawson (North Carolina State), McCargo and, possibly, Claude Wroten (LSU) although some teams have removed him from their draft boards altogether because of his marijuana possession arrest and a history of failed drug tests.

NOTES: The Ravens interviewed Pitt offensive guard Charles Spencer at the combine, according to his agent. … Monmouth (N.J.) wide receiver Miles Austin is a potential sleeper. At the combine, he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.52 seconds and bench pressed 225 pounds for 22 repetitions. Austin, who didn't play much high school football, caught 49 passes for 1,004 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.

In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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