Nov. 15, 2006
Florida State junior defensive tackle Andre Fluellen is working to put himself in position to me mentioned along with some of the top interior linemen in Seminole football history.
His dominating interior presence, quick first step and work ethic is leading him to be mentioned in the same class of Seminole first-round NFL picks Darnell Dockett, Travis Johnson and Brodrick Bunkley
“Andre is a smart football player,” defensive line Coach Odell Haggins said. “He plays hard. The good thing about his situation is that he is a junior and has another year to keep improving. He’s tough, he’s quick, and he’s strong. He knows the game very well.”
During their illustrious careers as Seminoles, both Johnson and Bunkley had an impact on Fluellen.
“One thing about Travis, he was a master at using his hands which is one of the vital things with a defensive tackle,” Fluellen said. “I talked to him a couple times this season and he’s told me some of the drills he works on in the pros which have definitely helped make him a better player.”
Fluellen said Bunkley has also been a very big influence.
“One thing I remember in particular, Bunk told me how to engage in a blocker who is quicker and then get him off you faster,” Fluellen said.
Fluellen, a native of Cartersville, Ga. has worked hard to try and incorporate everything he has learned to better improve his game.
Since Bunkley moved to the NFL after the 2005 season, Fluellen has worked exceptionally hard to become more of a vocal leader for the team.
“I always try and show people the right way, but some people have to hear it to get it,” Fluellen said.
Fluellen has worked hard, has stayed strong and been in the lineup for the Seminoles throughout the year.
The Seminole coaching staff named him the most dependable defensive tackle on the team at the beginning of the year.
He has most certainly lived up to that title so far in 2006.
Without a steady back-up at the defensive tackle position Fluellen has worked with a different teammate at the position seemingly each week. But, because of Fluellen’s talent and leadership abilities, there really is not that much of a drop-off between one player and the next.
“Some of the guys may not play as much, but each person in the defensive tackle segment is more than capable to be able to play at this level,” Fluellen said.
Fluellen and his teammates are very fortunate to work in a system that gives each player, especially the younger players, a great deal of playing time early in their careers. The younger Seminoles have the chance to earn a great deal of playing time which in turn leads to some mistakes due to their inexperience.
However, the entire defensive line squad is always in meetings and practice together, and with so much interaction and familiarity they all know how to play off one another.
The defensive players stick close together off the field as well.
“We spend a lot of time together; as much as we can when we have time,” teammate Darrell Burston said.
As teammates, they involve themselves in everyday activities like everyone else, but they particularly like to hit the driving range when they get the chance. Before any competitive game it is only natural to have butterflies, but for the junior tackle it goes to another level.
“I still get really, really nervous before every game, almost to the point where a couple of games I almost threw up,” Fluellen said.
Regardless if he is nervous or not before the game, it is what he does on the field that matters and that is no problem for the 6-4, 286 pound tackle. If he keeps his focus, plays with high intensity and stays aggressive, he may just be next in line to join the list of great interior defensive linemen at Florida State.
By Ben Murphy Florida State Sports Information