Larry Burton (Panama City Beach, Fla.). When you come in as the nation's number one lineman, a lot is expected of you. When you're one of the biggest linemen on the offense, you're supposed to have your way with defensive lineman and linebackers.
But in an earlier practice this year, Dont'a Hightower showed two things with one hit.
He showed he was more than recovered from his own leg injury and that D.J. Fluker better get serious in a hurry if he was going to claim that right tackle position by simply "lighting up D.J." and dropping him like a stone.
The ribbing D.J. took from his team mates from that single hit could have been the catalyst that turned him into a workout monster.
At one time, Fluker's weight hovered around 385 pounds and his sprints were anything but peppy.
Now he looks lean and mean at 326 pounds ,and in his sprints now he's one of the fastest linemen.
Hightower's bombing of Fluker had the same effect as the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbour. They won a battle, but only awoke a sleeping giant.
Now recovered from a shoulder injury that nagged his workouts last year, Fluker is a prime example for the other young players to emulate for his workout and practice ethics.
Coach Joe Pendry is still working with him on footwork on pass protection. This tackle is now a fast bull dozier on running plays and the Alabama backs are chomping at the bits to run behind this people mover.
Although Fluker jokes with friends that he still dreams about playing defense and if he did, he'd make everyone forget Marcel Dareus (and he's just teasing). He knows the team needs him most at tackle and he's working harder than ever to nail that position down.
When Alabama signed him two years ago, I met coach Joe Pendry at an Alabama gathering, and he said, "When we get him up to speed and in condition, this is a guy who could dominate any defensive player in the country."
"He hasn't played offensive tackle a lot, but if we can coach him up and get him to put some of that meanness he showed on defense, they'll be no stopping him." He finished
Well thank you Dont'a Hightower for providing Fluker that spark to get himself in shape both mentally and physically, and DJ just wants you to know—paybacks can be tough.
Now there's a little of that meanness we all wanted to see.