On Saturday, December 7, offensive tackle Billy Turner of the North Dakota State University football team will not be the only lineman NFL scouts will be paying attention to. Furman University’s Dakota Dozier is a name that people should start to get familiar with.
Dozier, who was given the Southern Conference’s Jacobs Blocker Award, is listed at 6’5” and weighs 305 pounds. He has played in 44 games in his career, starting in 43 of them. Turner, who is listed at 6’6” and 314 pounds, has played in 53 games in his career, starting in 52 of them.
Both players have received a number of accolades from various news outlets and within their respective conferences. The one thing that sets them apart from most offensive lineman is their athleticism.
“He’s got a lot of athleticism for a big guy,” said Dozier’s head coach Bruce Fowler. “He’s been recognized as one of the top players in our division. He is a tremendous talent.”
For Turner, the athleticism didn’t just come by chance but through hard work and dedication. It started almost immediately after NDSU won their second straight national title.
“I was in the weight room two days after game,” said Turner. “Even on our days off, I would be in the weight room. Preparing myself, getting as big and as strong as I can.”
It has paid off for Turner who said he has noticed this year that he is stronger, quicker and faster than he has been in previous years.
“Some teams that we have played in the past have came into a situation and have been a little overwhelmed with my strength this year compared to last year,” said Turner.
Both Dozier and Turner will have their hands full on Saturday with opposing pass rushers. For Furman, their top pass rusher is First-Team All-SOCON player Gary Wilkins. The junior has recorded 7.5 sacks this season, which is third most in the SOCON.
For NDSU, their top pass rusher this season has been Kyle Emanuel, who leads the team with 6.5 sacks so far this season. Emanuel was named to the All-Missouri Valley Football Conference Second Team this season.
Offensive linemen rarely get any glory from fans who are more concerned with big offensive plays and big hits on defense. However, these two linemen have stood out to their fans and will be watched closely during this second round matchup, even if Dozier and Turner are not paying that much attention to each other.
“I usually don’t look at the other team’s (offense) we are playing that week,” said Turner. “I have not seen him (Dozier) on film yet this year so I have no idea what he has to offer.”
My guess is that both Dozier and Turner will see what the other has to offer as the game goes along.
You can follow Daniel "Pinto" Gunderson on Twitter at @pintoKFGO or friend him on Facebook. You can hear him on his weekly podcast show on kfgo.com, 740thefan.com or on iTunes called “The Pinto and White Shadow Show.” Pinto is a radio producer within the Midwest Communications-Fargo company.