At 6-foot-6, 335 pounds, the Alabama offensive lineman’s been in the glare of the spotlight since he arrived in Tuscaloosa. He was, after all, No. 1 offensive tackle in the nation as a high school senior in 2008.
Now entering his second season as a starter, all the focus is trained on the other bookend of the offensive line. Fluker’s job at right tackle appears secure while Barrett Jones makes the move to left tackle with freshman Cyrus Kouandjio making his case for early playing time.
Should Kouandjio crack the starting five, the shuffled deck on the line could threaten jobs. Fluker should be safe, though. After dealing with a groin injury midway through last season, the Foley product is confident about his second go-round.
“I’m a whole new person this year,” he said. “I understand the offense. I understand the tackle position. I understand the plays. I understand the defense. I’m like a whole new person.”
A little hard work before last season made him a fraction of the person he was a year earlier.
Fluker dropped about 75 pounds between arriving with high expectations and his first career start last September.
He’s settled in at 335 pounds and moving much better than he did two years ago. Projections said Fluker was the next Andre Smith at left tackle. The right side, however, became his home on the line.
Offensive coordinator Jim McElwain doesn’t expect that’ll change.
“I think it’s one of those deals where he has become fairly comfortable at that spot, and right now it’s not as much as which tackle as it is which five guys are going to work together the best,” McElwain said.