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January 11, 2005

East's offensive line is a real dream

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - It's not quite the Dream Team, but for a college offensive line coach it would be a sweet fantasy.

At the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, the East squad is loaded with an offensive line to die for. Alex Boone, Dan Doering, Eugene Monroe, Michael Oher, Dace Richardson, Chris Scott and Marques Slocum are all guys that could see the field quickly in college and they're all on the same team.

Richardson said even though all of the players, except for Slocum, project at the offensive tackle spot, they seem to be quickly finding their homes in the East rotation.

"We're all at 300 pounds, except for Doering, and for a bunch of big guys we're really quick," Richardson of Wheaton (Ill.) South said.

"We're also very athletic. We've got Marques, Doering and me at guard, Eugene, Alex and Scott play at the tackle spots, and then we throw in Oher in the center. From the looks of it, we're going to be tough to stop because we're big, mean and nasty."

And probably the nastiest and best in the bunch appear to be Monroe, the nation's No. 1 offensive tackle from Plainfield, N.J., and Scott, the nation's No. 4 guard from Lovejoy, Ga. Monroe simply dominated in one-on-one drills on Tuesday and the only player that gave him trouble on the defensive line Melvin Alaeze. It's easy to see why Monroe is ranked as the nation's No. 1 tackle after the first two days of drills from San Antonio.

"Everybody has been kind of taking it easy in practices, but Eugene is so intense that he doesn't know how to do anything at half speed," East defensive lineman James McKinney said.

Scott is also highly regarded, and he proved on Tuesday why SEC rivals Tennessee and Florida are fighting tooth and nail to land him. Scott was especially deadly when he pulled from his tackle spot and came down on a smaller and some times helpless defensive back.

"I love to pull," Scott said. "You can get your full momentum going. I can get out there to where I can get a linebacker or safety, and I can roll them. It's really fun."

Scott said sometimes when he pulls he can see a linebacker or defensive back's eyes get wider in anticipation of getting pounded by his 6-foot-5, 300-pound frame.

"I kind of lick my lips in anticipation when that happens," Scott said with a chuckle. "It's kind of like watching a train wreck. You know it's going to happen and you can't stop it, so you just sit and watch it."

Tennessee and Florida fans have been sitting on the edges of their seat waiting to hear new news on Scott since he visited Florida this past weekend. Several players at the game indicated they thought Scott was Florida bound, but Scott said he has no plans of announcing his decision at the all-star game because he was still torn between the Gators and the Vols.

"I was at Florida this past weekend," Scott said. "It went great. It went better than I thought. Florida went from being high at one point and then really low after the coaching change, but they've really come back up. I had always liked Florida, but the one thing that hurt them a while back was the coaches leaving.

"And then I really didn't know the new coaches, but being with them for just two days, it was like I've known them forever. I'm being recruited by coach (Mike) Locksley, and he's just a really cool guy. He helped me fit right in with the players. He's such a great guy."

But Scott also had glowing comments about the Vols.

"Tennessee is a great program," Scott said. "Every time I talk to coach Fulmer he gets into about how he played offensive line, and I love it. To have a head coach that's played your position and can understand what you're going through, it's amazing. You can get feedback from him and that can make it a wonderful experience."

But Scott and Monroe haven't been the only ones that looked great.

Boone did lose a few one-on-one match-ups against Alaeze, but who didn't. Against Ryan Bain, Boone beat him several times when they went head-to-head. Doering was solid but he did get beat out a few times by Bain and Alaeze. And Slocum showed his true ability on both sides of the ball after impressing in one-on-one drills he jumped over to the defensive side and made three straight plays against that first-team offensive line.

In the end what makes this even scarier for the West squad that will face this monster offensive line group - it isn't a dream. Call it reality.


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