Film Study: D.J. Fluker
D.J. Fluker
D.J. Fluker
Regional Recruiting Manager
Posted Jan 7, 2009
Bob Lichtenfels


We filmed three consecutive series of D.J. Fluker in action last week during the West team's intrasquad scrimmage in preparation for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. We decided to break it down and let you know what we saw.

While we were in San Antonio, Texas for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl we had the chance to get a good solid evaluation on a number of players, including Foley (Ala.) four-star lineman D.J. Fluker.

We filmed three offensive series that Fluker played in an intrasquad scrimmage in preparation for the game itself. Here is what we saw.

Play No. 1 is a penalty, but it is good start to evaluate Fluker's mechanics. Start with the stance. Against a speed rusher like Nick Kasa, the farther back a player has his back leg, the harder it is going to be for him to properly kick step and slide. Fluker is a very good athlete for someone of his size, but there is no way that he is going to gather and set himself in enough time from this position. His left toes should be closer in-line to his right instep.

Taking a look at his upper body, I like to teach hands on hips almost like the old Wild West days, a cowboy with his hands on his six shooters. This will allow him to quickly extend the arms and punch to get separation from the defender. Fluker has his forearms resting on his thighs. I also like my tackles to sink their butt and keep that back straight, almost as if creating a chair out of his thighs and chest. This will help keep everything in front of him. When you look at the chest, Fluker is leaning forward severely. Again, this cause a delay when he tries to kick and slide.

Once the play has begun Fluker’s right foot takes the cheat step forward when the ball is snapped, instead of gathering his momentum and taking the kick step with the back foot. Once he gathers and starts his kick step, he went from what should be shoulder width separation to about a three and a half foot gap between his legs. He is now flat footed instead of being on the balls of his feet. Fluker’s feet are so large that if he has a big span in between them, he has a bad tendency to trip over them. He is not always keeping his knees bent to gather his weight and momentum so that he can reposition himself after contact. He tries to bend at the waist, which is a cardinal sin for a lineman.

Play No. 2:

Fluker does a good job reacting to the twist that the defensive line was doing. They were doing slide left protection where the guard takes the “B” gap defender and the tackle has “C”. As Fluker backs up he his feet going and he falls over Kasa. Watching the stance for the bad habits that we documented in play No. 1, there is a clear progression that leads to Fluker being off-balance..

Play No. 3

Fluker cuts down his stance and toes are to the in-step. He is in a pass pro stance on a running play, which is fine if  he can recover fast enough to step play side and get to the second level of defenders including linebackers. Coaches will differ on their opinions, but some do not care if a their linemen use a drive blocking stance on run plays and a two-point pass blocking stance in passing situations. Sometimes a coach will want the player in the same stance all the time to not give the edge to the defender to tip him off.

Now that I saw Fluker shift his feet, I know to watch the next running play to see if he does it on all running plays. When the ball is snapped, Fluker steps with his outside foot and not the play side foot. When he gets to the second level his body is all over the place, because again, he is bent at the waist and not in a good football position with his knees bent. Being off balance, he cannot stop and gather his momentum to make the block.

Play No. 4

With his weight leaning forward, rather than balanced, Fluker has no choice but to lunge at the defensive end, and he misses him.

Play No. 5

Fluker's upper body is a little more perpendicular in this play, but he steps with the wrong foot and has too much weight out in front of him. The defender beats him off the snap and shoots inside on him.

Play No. 6

Fluker is in a much better stance. He makes sure he was upright so he could get out to block for the screen pass. Generally, on a screen a lineman is asked to block his defender for a split second, then release and pull.

Play No. 7

Several of the same mistakes are evident, and Fluker takes himself out of the play.

Play No. 8

Fluker releases on a draw play, but again he is in bad position, so he cannot gather himself to make a block. Linebackers and safeties simply dodge him.

Play No. 9

He starts the play well, but he doesn't finish his block after engaging his defender. The man he is responsible for ends up making the play on the ball carrier.

Play No. 10

Fluker does a solid job of forcing his man to the inside and getting the double team with the guard.

Play No. 11

Fluker was ineffective in this play as he just kind of lumbers out into the flat and misses the block.

Play No. 12

Penalty, No play.

Play No. 13

False start penalty again and no play.

Play No. 14

Fluker opened up really and delivered his punch and rode Kasa outside the tackle box just the way he should. He took his man out of the play.

Final Analysis

Fluker is a monster at 6-6+ and in the neighborhood of 350 pounds. For his size he can moves well, but there it takes more than size to become an elite offensive lineman early in a player's career. With all of the bad habits that Fluker has, I think it will probably take two years for the staff at Alabama to turn him into a serviceable player if he remains at offensive tackle.

Scout.com's former #1 Offensive lineman Andre Smith became a starter right away at Alabama and will be a high draft pick after only three years. The hope for Alabama fans is that Fluker can step into Smith's shoes and not miss a beat for the Tide. Smith is one of the best linemen I have ever seen, and I do not see that in Fluker. I think he can eventually crack the lineup at Alabama and become a solid college football player, but he is considerably farther behind Smith at the same stage of their careers.

I see a very serviceable college football player after a few seasons of coaching. Right now, it may be best for Alabama to start Fluker off at guard. At the guard position, his size and strength can be an asset, rather than his technique at tackle making him a liability.



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