Auburn, Ala.--Tommy Tuberville says one of the bright spots of preseason football practice for the Auburn offense has been the play of redshirt sophomore King Dunlap.
Offensive line coach Hugh Nall notes that the big tackle was on the verge of a breakout preseason after making significant strides in spring training.
Tuberville says the difference in Dunlap from 2004 to 2005 is readily noticeable. “It is night and day,” the head coach says. “We call it getting over the top.
“He is getting better and better,” Tuberville adds. “King has got a lot of potential and he has never really utilized that potential to its fullest. He has gotten stronger, both mentally and physically. I am excited for him. He had a great two-a-days.”
King Dunlap (right) and Leon Hart (72) are two of the key reserves on the 2005 Auburn football team.
In addition to getting better as an offensive tackle, the 6-9, 305-pounder is becoming more versatile. He made the move from left tackle to right tackle earlier this week so he can be Nall’s top substitute at either position behind seniors Marcus McNeill on the left side and Troy Reddick on the right.
“Playing right tackle has been fun,” Dunlap tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. “I got a little backwards the first day. I was over there some in the spring so it isn’t the first time I have done it. Whether you are playing right or left tackle, it is pretty much the same thing. It is not as complicated as it sounds.”
Dunlap, whose father was an NFL offensive lineman, is quicker and stronger than when he arrived as a freshman from Brentwood, Tenn., High.
“I have improved in a lot of areas,” the lineman says. “Coach Nall has told me I need to continue to improve on my footwork. I know that I have improved on that a lot since I got here.
“I also know I am a lot stronger physically,” Dunlap adds. “I have gained weight and gotten stronger in the weight room. I am a lot stronger than I was last year.”
Offensive line coach Hugh Nall watches Dunlap in a one-on-one blocking drills vs. defensive end Antonio Coleman.
Dunlap notes that he is still a work in progress. He wants to add more size and strength. He believes 320 to 325 will be a good weight for him at tackle, but notes he might not be able to get there this season.
Offensive coordinator Al Borges says that the redshirt sophomore is in a much better position to be a major contributor than he was last year.
“I think King is game ready now,” Borges says. “I don’t know if he was always game-ready last fall. He had a good spring and has a much better feel for how to play the position. We would not hesitate to put him in the game. We are happy with his progress.”
Dunlap and the Tigers have the day off from practice on Wednesday as their “preseason camp” at the intramural fields has ended and fall semester classes begin.
“Now that preseason camp is over, we have a lot of work to do to get ready for the opening game coming up against Georgia Tech,” Dunlap says. “We will be watching a lot of film on them and getting ready to go against their defense instead of our defense.”
Nall has been talking about the possibility of giving the second team offensive line more game action than he has in recent years. Dunlap says he isn’t sure that will happen, but notes he thinks the group can get the job done.
“Coach Nall says always be ready because you are just one play away from being in the game,” the big tackle says. “I feel that this year the second group can be just as good as the first group. We are out their competing everyday just like they are.”