Alabama OT Fluker’s a D.J. who plays big hits nonstop
BY MARK POTASH firstname.lastname@example.org February 23, 2013 9:22PM
D J Fluker
Updated: March 25, 2013 7:00AM
INDIANAPOLIS — D.J. Fluker looks and sounds like just what the Bears are looking for in an offensive lineman. He’s not mean. But he plays nasty.
‘‘I want to be the Ray Lewis of my offensive line,’’ Fluker said Friday in an entertaining interview at the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium.
But Fluker brings much more than an attitude. At 6-5 and 355 pounds, he’s a dancing bear with big hands, quick feet and a frame that is all but sculpted to be an offensive lineman.
And he has what offensive line coaches want most: the mind-set of a defensive player. Fluker was the sixth-ranked defensive tackle in the country at Foley (Ala.) High School in 2008. But his build was so well-suited for the offensive line that he played offensive tackle as a senior. He was the No. 1 offensive lineman in the country by the time he signed with Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide.
What does he enjoy doing most?
‘‘Knocking the defensive end down. Every single play,’’ Fluker said. ‘‘Let them know the ball’s coming right behind me.’’
Fluker’s attitude and the relentless nature instilled by Saban and his coaching staff helped create the monster that Alabama football — and particularly the offensive line — has become. Fluker not only is a nonstop, high-energy player; he’s a nonstop, high-energy person.
‘‘I’m always like that,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m the high-energy guy on that team. There’s no time to relax. Every day is a work day.’’
Alabama’s opponents — even the very best, as Notre Dame discovered — pay the price. Fluker said there were times when opposing defensive linemen were all but begging for mercy.
‘‘It’s not my choice to name names, but it’s happened,’’ he said. ‘‘They quit. Because we’re a four-quarter team. We come out all four quarters and give you everything we’ve got. Eventually, you’re going to break.’’
Fluker came to Alabama from a difficult background. His family escaped the ravages of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. He spent two years of high school in Mobile, Ala., before his family moved to Biloxi, Miss. He nearly quit football but was convinced to stick with it. After excelling as a junior, his family moved again, finally, to Foley. It was his third high school in four years.
But his perseverance is paying off. Fluker has become a great athlete with a great work ethic. He listed his three strengths as ‘‘my passion for the game. Run-blocking. And trying to fine-tune every technique of my game.
As good as he is, scouts say he can get even better.
‘‘Any team that wants to win a championship, any team that wants to win every Sunday, that’s the team I want to go to,’’ he said. ‘‘The team that has the attitude, ‘I will not be denied.’ The guys that want to go out there and work hard and do something special. Win the Super Bowl. That’s the type of team I want to be a part of.’’