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Baylor Football

Rhule, Baylor not just settling with Tecklenburg at center

July 31, 2017

During the Bears’ 2016 opener, it wasn’t KD Cannon or Ish Zamora that scored the team’s first passing touchdown, it was tight end Sam Tecklenburg. Like Texas football, tight ends were back in Waco. Except, neither was as is the case with most sports hysteria projecting off single instances.

The Plano freshman added just two more receptions the rest of the season. His first catch was his last touchdown and now may be his only now that he’s taken over as the starting center.

Three receptions and his ability to block was the little amount of info that was available on Tecklenburg as Matt Rhule and his pro-style offense was brought in for the 2017 season. Only a little more was seen in Jordan Feurbacher who through three seasons has nine receptions for 119 yards and two scores.

More fodder was added when Rhule recruited Ish Wainright from the hardwood and moved Quan Jones from receiver. With those two imports dazzling with their receiving talent, Tecklenburg’s services as a blocker were needed inside more than on the edge.

Originally being worked as a tackle, the retirement of Tanner Thrift opened up a spot for Tecklenburg to not only be a part of the offensive line but to be the nucleus of it. While Thrift’s departure opened the door, Tecklenburg’s abilities have shown enough merit at practice.

“[He’s] one of the best football players on the team,” Rhule said Friday. “I think he’s an NFL offensive lineman.”

Rhule isn’t alone in his assessment of his new center, either.

“We’re excited to have Sam working on the offensive line,” co-offensive coordinator Jeff Nixon said. “That’s something he wanted and as a coaching staff, we talked about and thought would be a really good position for him.”

While every coach is going to work up players as much as possible, Rhule is in a class of his own. He also called left tackle Mo Porter an NFL-caliber lineman before Porter even logs his first start in college. Tecklenburg is supposedly headed for a six to nine-year career in the NFL’s trenches without having played the position at the collegiate ranks.

But Rhule has experience building outsiders like Porter and Tecklenburg. Players like Dion Dawkins at Temple were unknowns before walking on campus. Dawkins soon turned into an all-conference offensive tackle and was drafted in the second round of this year’s NFL Draft.

“Every year I’ve been a head coach and even before that, there’s been a kid — even when I was in the NFL there was an undrafted free agent — every year there was a kid on the scout team and by the end of the year, he started for us,” Rhule said.

Tecklenburg could be that non-traditional player Rhule expects to see even if the rest of the conference sees the 6-foot-3, 275-pound tight end as an inferior replacement.

Right tackle Patrick Lawrence said he’s even more confident in the offensive line than before, having added “high-caliber guys” to the fold. What lies beneath the starting five is likely one of the position groups that keeps Rhule up at night but as far as what’s on the surface, Tecklenburg’s at least giving more anticipation for the season’s start.
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