People assume that playing on the offensive line is one of the easiest jobs in football. They think that the job of a lineman is to just stand in the way of a defender and block, that the only requirement is to be a big guy with muscle.
But put those ignorant naysayers at center, guard, or tackle, and they will find out that playing offensive line is not as easy as it looks.
Playing on the line is one of the most physically punishing, mentally challenging positions in all of football. Not only do these men have to block defenders, they have to anticipate where that defender is going to go before the snap. What if he cuts inside? What if he pulls out a spin move or a bull-rush?
Linemen also have to be disciplined when engaged with a defender and are the players most prone to inciting a penalty, as they are usually guilty of holding, false starts, and hands-to-the-face calls.
Being a good-quality lineman takes a lot of skill, discipline, film study, and talent. Not every big man has the stamina, strength, or mental toughness that it takes to play on this line.
That is what makes players like Reginald “Reggie” Sutton one of the more intriguing prospects in Rutgers 2018 recruiting class.
Sutton is one of the most athletic offensive linemen seen this year. At 6’4” and weighing in at just under 280lbs, Sutton possesses the talent and athleticism that it takes to play on the line, with so much more.
Looking at his game tape at 247sports.com, Sutton exhibits a speed and agility that you would not normally find in a tackle. On screen passes, he bursts out of his stance like a cannon, making his way towards the receiver just in time to throw in a devastating block against an unsuspecting defensive back or linebacker.
On run plays, Sutton has a great motor and footwork, as he is able to move his block off the line enough to make massive holes for runners to go through. One of his best moves his reach-around, in which he leads a defender into any direction they are favoring into a complete 180-degree spin, making them miss the tackle and look foolish in the process. The only issue he has is that he can sometimes stand up too quickly out of his stance. The key to playing well on the line is to keep a low stance against the defender so that you can gain leverage and control of the block. A high stance would grant a defender that exact leverage and he can either throw you down with a bull rush or turn you in a way that closes the running gap.
Sutton is at his best when it comes to the passing game. He has good hand placement and arm strength, allowing for good engagement and push back against edge rushers. He is strong enough to knock defenders on the ground with just a few hits (i.e pancaking them). His kickback and disciplined footwork allow him to maintain good stature and leverage against defenders. He is fast enough to pick up a blitzing safety or linebacker while coming off his initial block. On his hudl.com game tape, you can see Sutton’s stamina at work, as he stays on his block until the whistle blows. And if no one is on him or he does not see a blitzing player, Sutton will go out and find someone to block, does not matter who.
Like many of Rutgers’ recruits, Sutton is just as exceptional on the field as he is off of it, especially in the classroom. According to his Twitter account, Sutton has maintained a 3.85 GPA at Calvert Hall College High School.
In a profile he wrote for NCSA Sports.org, Sutton says that he chose Rutgers above schools like Yale and Temple. His reasoning was due to his medical aspirations and thought Rutgers was the best option for him.
“I would love to go to a college that allows me to pursue a career as a physician as well as my dreams to be able to play in college,” Sutton told NCSA Sports.org.
“I believe that I would be a strong candidate at any school because I am competitive not only on the field but in the classroom. My goal in finding a college is to find the perfect balance that allows for me to help the community and make myself a better man. I provide a work ethic that is only outmatched by my eagerness to play on Saturdays.”
Sutton is a great football player and student. To be able to balance the complexity of the sport, while at the same time aspiring to become a physician is astounding. If Sutton keeps up the hard work, he could end up being the next Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.
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