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October 5, 2006

Dorsey finding his legs on the defensive line

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One of the biggest concerns surrounding Louisiana State in the preseason involved its inexperience at defensive tackle.

The Tigers had to replace Kyle Williams and Claude Wroten, two players who parlayed outstanding college careers into spots on NFL rosters. Conventional wisdom indicated the new starters would need at least a few games before they could deliver similar production.

LSU coach Les Miles knew better.

"I think Glenn Dorsey will step in and be as talented as any in the country," Miles said before the start of the season. "I think our opponents will not look forward to blocking Glenn Dorsey."

Dorsey has wasted no time backing up his coach's bold prediction.

The first-year starter has emerged as one of the major reasons why LSU leads all Division I-A teams in total defense. He is listed as the nation's top defensive lineman in the Rivals.com college football power rankings.

"Sometimes I do get surprised by how much people are liking the stuff I'm doing," Dorsey said. "I still see a lot of things I've got to get better and improve on."

Opposing coaches don't see much room for improvement.

Mississippi State coach Sylvester Croom certainly knows a thing or two about outstanding defensive linemen after playing in the trenches at Alabama. Dorsey made quite an impression on the former all-Southeastern Conference center last weekend during LSU's 48-17 victory over the Bulldogs.

Croom referred to Dorsey as an "outstanding player" this week, then repeated himself for emphasis.

"The young man has exceptional talent," Croom said. "He has great size. He's a big guy, but he has exceptional power, quickness and agility. I don't know him as a person, but watching him play, he plays with the kind of intensity and intangibles that the great ones have. He's relentless."

How did Dorsey develop his tenacity?

Well, imagine if you spent part of your childhood never getting to run at all. Once you finally got the chance, you'd never want to stop.

"I was extremely bowlegged as a kid," the 6-foot-2, 299-pound junior said. "I couldn't run around with the kids. I couldn't go outside and play."

When he was about 3 years old, Dorsey had to wear braces on his legs.

About a year later, his legs got better and he was able to shed the braces. Dorsey quickly made up for lost time.

"When I did get my chance to get out, I'd play outside all day," Dorsey said. "It made me stronger because I had to overcome that. It helped me in the long run to overcome obstacles.

Junior defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey has helped Louisiana State rank among the nation's top teams in many major defensive categories. Here's a look at where the Tigers rank in each department:
Total defense
Pass efficiency defense
Scoring defense
Pass defense
5 (tie)
Run defense
25 (tie)
"Life isn't perfect. You have to overcome things. It's a test of your character."

Dorsey has passed that test well enough to mature into a star for his hometown team, though that's not how he originally planned it.

The Baton Rouge native grew up rooting for Florida State because of his admiration for 1993 Heisman Trophy winner Charlie Ward. Dorsey switched allegiances only after he began attending LSU games in high school.

"The environment had me stuck on it," Dorsey said. "I knew I wanted to come to LSU."

Dorsey spent the rest of his high school career making sure that happened. He collected 100 tackles his junior year at Gonzales (La.) East Ascension High and was rated by Rivals.com as the No. 2 prospect in Louisiana.

"He's just the type of kid who wants it more than any other kid that I've coached," East Ascension coach Billy Beasley said. "He just wants to get there more. And it's evident on every play."

That desire hasn't ebbed since he arrived at LSU.

Dorsey earned plenty of playing time last year while learning the intricacies of the game from the guys ahead of him on the depth chart. He grew to admire Williams' mind-set and Wroten's athleticism and worked on those parts of his game.

Dorsey delivered a star-making effort last month by delivering three tackles for loss and 1 sacks against Auburn, which boasts one of the nation's top offensive lines.

That performance looked awfully familiar to Beasley, who watched the LSU-Auburn game on television.

"He doesn't know a lesser speed," Beasley said. "He just goes all out. It's just wall-to-wall with him every rep he takes in practice, every rep he takes in a game, every rep he takes in a weight room or out in the training field.

"That's a God-given gift. But he utilizes that gift. There are other people who have that gift and don't utilize it. He does. It's a responsibility to him. It's a trademark."

While that Auburn game gave Dorsey plenty of notoriety, it left a bitter taste in his mouth. His team's 7-3 loss overshadowed any of his personal accomplishments.

"That game hurt, man," Dorsey said. "I still felt like we left it all on the field. When the game was over, I was upset because I didn't feel like we deserved to lose. But everybody left their gut on the field."

Dorsey finally has moved on from that heartbreak. He sees this weekend's trip to fifth-ranked Florida as a second chance for No. 9 LSU to prove itself on a national stage.

LSU rarely is mentioned anymore as a contender for the national title, but Dorsey believes that goal remains within reach.

The Tigers already showed their defense could overcome the loss of five starters from last year's front seven.

Dorsey believes LSU possesses enough talent and togetherness to prove the skeptics wrong again.

"We're all like brothers," Dorsey said. "You don't want to see your brother fail, so you try to put him in the best position to succeed."

Dorsey has considered his teammates brothers since he began playing football.

Just as he learned from Williams and Wroten during the early years of his LSU career, Dorsey spent his latter seasons at East Ascension mentoring younger players.

He now demands the best from himself because he doesn't want to let down the members of his football family.

"He's a better person than he is a football player," Beasley said.

And that's saying a lot.



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