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December 22, 2011

Fluker flourishes on and off the field

TUSCALOOSA | At 6-foot-5 and 335 pounds, going unnoticed isn't easy for D.J. Fluker.

The biggest player on the University of Alabama football team plays on the offensive line, however. And much like officials, the time-tested adage about offensive linemen is that the less they are noticed, the better they are likely performing. Things like penalties, and sacks allowed, tend to draw as much attention to offensive linemen as anything during a game. And the Crimson Tide's starting right tackle hasn't done much of either.

What he has done is to dominate opponents on a regular basis. And he's no fun to deal with in practice, either.

"He's a heavy guy, man. A heavy guy," said Alabama defensive end Damion Square. "Initially, you can get movement on him. But eventually, science takes over. It's kind of hard to beat a guy that massive."

Fluker has also enjoyed an injury-free season, starting all 12 games for Alabama. For a player who missed several games with a groin injury last year, good health doesn't go unappreciated.

"I've been taking care of my body, eating the right things," said Fluker. "Stay in rehab, rehab my groin from last year, make sure that doesn't come up again. ... I feel great. My weight is down. I haven't had any problems this season."

Off the field, according to UA coach Nick Saban, Fluker has been a model teammate and a strong representative of the program.

"I don't think he's ever been in my office one time in the years he has been here that he didn't do, or try to do, the right way," Saban said. "He doesn't miss class, doesn't get into trouble, doesn't have issues off the field. He has a lot or respect for coaches and people in positions of authority. He really tries to do things right and is very respectful."

UA left guard Chance Warmack is among Fluker's closest friends on the team. Last week, Fluker released a statement affirming his intention to return to Alabama next year rather than making an early jump to the NFL. On Thursday, Warmack made it clear he, also, fully intends to return to UA next season. The two came to Alabama together and, more than likely, they'll go out together. Asked about their relationship, Warmack crosses one finger over another and lets a hand signal do the talking.

"We're like that," Warmack said. "That's my brother, man. He's like another brother."

D.J. Fluker's bond with his teammates started long before he arrived in Tuscaloosa. Rivals.com takes a look back at the 2009 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, where Fluker roomed with A.J. McCarron


Reach Chase Goodbread at chase.goodbread@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0196.


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