Ready To Roll
LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey probably would have been a first-round NFL draft pick, but he's back to wreak even more havoc as one of the best players in college football
Monday, August 27, 2007
By James Varney
BATON ROUGE -- LSU's roster lists senior Glenn Dorsey at 6-foot-2, 303 pounds, but one of the most memorable features of this gargantuan is his hands.
They are remarkably flexible, and they, too, are huge, enveloping a handshake like a feeding python. Although one would expect a defensive lineman at No. 2-ranked LSU to have gnarled mitts, scraped raw from days on end of pushing and clawing and snatching at other football players, Dorsey's hands are quite soft, the strips of white tape around the knuckles almost the only reminder of what he does for the Tigers.
And, to hear the breathless praise of professional scouts and television analysts, he will make quite a living toiling in the football trenches. Had he elected to forgo his final season at LSU, he probably would have been one of five Tigers taken in the first round of the NFL draft this past April. No sooner had that derby concluded than draft guru Mel Kiper declared Dorsey the No. 1defensive prospect for the 2007 draft.
"It is what it is; I made that decision, and I'm going to live with it. I'm 100 percent behind it," he said, when asked whether he considered leaving early. "There's a lot of people out there who would give their arms and their legs to play football at LSU, and I just embrace that."
The answer underscores another aspect of Dorsey's personality, that he can be as unfailingly polite off the field as he is ferocious on it. The violence of football resonates deeply with him, and he caresses the syllables when talking about, "going crazy and causing havoc."
He is soft-spoken when discussing most any topic ("not that we are crazy," he'll hasten to add), and he never dodges a question as he would a blocker.
But as offensive linemen throughout the Southeastern Conference can attest, shedding blockers is something he does incredibly well.
In the first three games last season, he had six tackles for a losses, and he finished the season as the Tigers' third-leading tackler, with 64 stops, 22 of them solo, 8.5 of them for a losses and three sacks. He was regarded as the cornerstone of LSU's defensive front, which allowed 97.1 rushing yards per game, and when the dust had settled he was chosen a first-team All-American by five news services.
Dorsey accomplished all that despite facing double teams on nearly every snap and playing with a stress fracture in his left leg. The injury, which continues to cause soreness and kept him out of several practices during fall camp, influenced his decision to return to LSU and show what he can do at 100 percent.
"It was a factor but not the deciding one," he said. "I had the opportunity to come back and get myself healthy. That's why I sat out spring ball. I didn't want to, but they sat me down and told me, 'look, get healthy."
Perhaps nothing showcased his excellence like last season's Auburn game. That critical SEC matchup was acknowledged by all sides to be one of the most physical games in years, and the collisions left both teams physically battered and drained. LSU lost 7-3, and most of the people associated with the program consider that the one game in 2006 they would like to have back, even more than the Florida game the Tigers also lost after committing five turnovers.
Dorsey doesn't express that feeling.
Instead, he talks about how much he enjoyed the Auburn game, about how much he felt during it that football was a joy. In a game in which neither team seemed capable of gaining the upper hand, Dorsey was an absolute tornado in the middle, finishing with eight tackles, including three for losses and 1.5 sacks.
"Man, that was a tough game," he said. "At the end of that game, I was so proud to be an LSU Tiger and to play in the Southeastern Conference. Even though we came up short, I felt like we put our best foot forward. That was a game for the ages right there, man. It's a privilege to play in a game like that."
Football was always what Dorsey is all about, but he hasn't been the star attraction since he walked on campus -- he's earned it. Although he came out of East Ascension High School in Gonzalez as a Parade All-American and one of the most-sought players in Louisiana, he was not a starter as a freshman.
Nor as a sophomore. In his first two years at LSU, Dorsey had four starts, and his starts declined from his first season (three) to his second (one). In 2005, he was behind defensive tackles Kyle Williams and Claude Wroten.
Still, even as a role player, Dorsey made an impact. Against Oregon State, he forced a fumble as a freshman on his first collegiate snap. Rotating into 13 games in 2005, he finished with 28 tackles -- three of them sacks.
Clearly, he was blossoming into the dominant force he has become.
There is something roly-poly about Dorsey on the field, a kind of low point of gravity despite his size that makes him more nimble, harder to knock down. He has that dexterity despite being a late walker -- as a tot, he would only walk when a putt-putt commercial came on television, prompting his mother and grandmother to give him a nickname he still carries, "Putt."
Dorsey said all he hears in Gonzalez these days is that "you've got to win this one," and he welcomes the expectations. Still, when he sees people stare at him, or hears Kirk Herbstreit on ESPN declare Dorsey is "the best player in college football," he is amazed.
"When someone is staring at me in a restaurant or something, man, sometimes I forget because I'm always regular old me," he said "That's the way I approach it, because I was taught to be humble. If that's the way (Herbstreit) sees it, I'm real happy to see that someone has noticed the effort and the hard work that I've put into the game, but I'd enjoy it a lot more if he said the same thing at the end of this season."
Football might be Dorsey's raison d'etre, yet he hardly is a one dimensional person. He is majoring in interdisciplinary studies with an emphasis in psychology and sociology. He's on track to graduate, a point he makes when discussing his return to school, and, completing his Hallmark résumé, even talks to kids in Baton Rouge about staying in school.
It's hardly surprising that such a blend of athletic talent and intelligence would commend itself to the coaching staff and teammates, who never fail to stress Dorsey's leadership ability right after opening with "such a great player."
Dorsey steers the conversation to the team.
"I think we're very talented; we're just as talented as we were last year," he said. "We've got a lot of young guys who are ready to step up and play some big-time football."
There was another factor influencing his decision to return, though it's not one Dorsey brings up right off the bat: his mom. Sandra Dorsey, who still lives in Gonzales and attends every home Tigers game, said she urged him to complete his education.
"It was important to me that he get his diploma," she said. "I really wanted him to come back."
Sandra Dorsey said she always expected big things from "Putt," but admitted she was surprised by the extreme attention.
"I am surprised; I mean you're very happy for your children, and I'm very proud of him -- but I never imagined it would ever be like this," she said.
For all his talk about LSU and the community and its legacies, he grew up a Florida State fan. He loved quarterback Charlie Ward and running back Warrick Dunn as a kid. But, as a high school junior when the recruiting pressure seemed certain to mount, he committed to LSU without even taking any official visits.
"I grew up 20 minutes from Tiger Stadium," he said. "To play in my backyard? That was a no-brainer for me."
And, starting Thursday night at Mississippi State, he will try to accomplish in his backyard what very few players get to experience nationwide, leading his team to a shot at the national championship.
"Without a doubt I want to come out and try to win the SEC championship and a national championship," he said. "I'm really excited about the season, just battling with my guys."
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Re: Ready To Roll
I can't believe LSU opens up this Thursday.
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