|Football runs in the family for No. 3 Oklahoma's Alonzo Dotson|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 27 September 2007 23:43|
Not only does he have a family tradition to uphold, he's also playing for an injured teammate.
The 6-foot-4 defensive end has the NFL in his blood. His uncle, Santana, won a Super Bowl with the Green Bay Packers in 1997 and his grandfather, Alphonse, played for John Madden's Oakland Raiders back in the 1970s. Now it's almost time for the next generation to carry on that NFL tradition.
``I don't want to be the one to break it,'' Dotson said. ``There's only two boys in my family, too.''
In his senior year with the Sooners (4-0), Dotson is several years closer to fulfilling that NFL dream than his younger cousin. He has two sacks among his nine tackles this season, and he'll be moving into the starting lineup this week against Colorado (2-2) - at the unfortunate expense of injured teammate John Williams.
Williams had season-ending surgery on his torn Achilles' tendon this week, leaving more playing time for Dotson to fill. The duo met during their high-school days in the Houston area and grew closer when both were sidelined during the 2005 season.
To see Williams get hurt again after a summer of focusing on getting healthy, Dotson said his ``heart just really sank.''
``It's just one of those things where I'm pushing through for him,'' Dotson said. ``I'll put him on my back and we'll ride out together.''
Dotson understands that injuries are an unfortunate, but major part of football. That's one of the lessons that his uncle has emphasized over the years while serving as a lifelong adviser for Dotson.
So if the 22-year-old sounds a bit like an assistant coach, perhaps it's because he's had a Super Bowl winner in his ear for so long - and maybe even trying to continue living his football dreams through his nephew.
``Sometimes you think that, but I think he wants me to do well,'' Dotson said. ``We've been together so long, since I was a baby. So he takes on that role of just being another coach and another person to help me out.''
Dotson said he has daily talks with his uncle, who also attends all of his games and some practices too.
``He comes up and came to two-a-days and watched us, and gives me pointers and we watch film together. I tell him the keys that we have for each week, and he processes them and then he calls me back and we go over tips,'' Dotson said. ``And then I call him before the game too.''
Defensive coordinator Brent Venables said it's only natural that Dotson would be a ``football junkie,'' considering his background.
``He's a smart guy, been around a lot of football and the good part of all of it is he's coming in here as a mature guy that has taken it in and has learned from it,'' Venables said. ``He's utilized the opportunity. Sometimes they'll get to their fifth year and it's like, 'What happened here?' and now they're learning as a fifth-year senior.
``He's been somebody that's taken it from day one and transitioned well.''
Even before Dotson arrived in Norman, he'd been learning from the best. While attending training camps with his uncle, he got to know former Packers linemen including Reggie White, Vonnie Holliday and Gilbert Brown (``A lot of people think he's so huge, but he's really not. You put those tight clothes on, you'll look big,'' Dotson notes.)
``You don't really realize that you're fortunate to grow up around that type of environment until someone else tells you,'' Dotson said. ``You know, 'Golly, you were around all those guys all the time?'''
Some of their advice applies to an approach to the game - ``work harder than the next man, and put more into it because somebody out there is trying to beat you out'' - while other words of wisdom must be applied to ever-changing schemes.
``I have to tell them that teams don't just run the ball anymore,'' Dotson said. ``We've got these zone reads and a little bit of option and throwback passes and all kinds of crazy stuff, so relating that to them old guys kind of gets complicated.''
The benefits of Dotson's connections trickle down to his teammates, too. Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said Dotson ``plays like a leader'' through his go-getter style and his ability to read offenses and call out adjustments.
``Alonzo's definitely been a good teacher to me, as far as the mental aspect of the game,'' said Auston English, the Sooners' other starting defensive end. ``He's real smart, knows when things are coming at him, a real student of the game. Definitely just always aware of what's coming at him and what he's going to get.''
Dotson knows personal rewards await him if he's able to carry on his family tradition, but right now he's much more interested in playing for his teammates, his family and his injured friend.
``In the long run, it'll help me out, but I really in my heart I want to help this team out and go as far as we can,'' Dotson said. ``I just want to be so much a part of that that you guys don't really understand.''