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October 26, 2012Tweet Follow @c_cappella
Junior left tackle A.J. Dalton has something that most of his counterparts on the offensive line do not have: Experience and a taste of winning ways.
Dalton, a 6-foot-5, 285 pound guard-turned-tackle from Carrollton High School in Ohio, was a starter on the line on the 2010 Northeast Conference championship team and has more experience than the other four starters playing on the line with him. Does Dalton mind being the old head of the group?
"I kind of like it because it puts a lot of responsibility on me and I live for that. I think it's good because we work together and we gel," he said. "With there being a lot of young guys there aren't a lot of egos and stuff and everyone knows what they have to do and can just do it. We can get it done collectively."
He also said that when he was getting started as a freshman, he had two experienced players in Logan Miles and Carlos Andrade helping him out.
"They were good role models and they helped me through everything. It was cool because I felt important and I felt like I needed to do everything 100 percent every time just so I could please those guys and the team," Dalton said.
Dalton started at left guard his freshman year and moved to left tackle going into his sophomore year. He said the biggest difference between the two positions is working against the body types.
"You go from playing bigger, stronger guys to faster, more athletic and just as strong guys," he said. He added he feels comfortable at tackle, the position he played in his last three seasons in high school.
Dalton drew parallels from the 2009 team prior to the championship and this year's team. The 2009 team started 0-6 before reeling off five straight wins and winning the NEC the next year. Dalton said this year's team could easily be 5-2 right now "but mistakes and penalties will do that."
Nine weeks into the season, the offensive line has seemed to hit their stride. Running back Evan Taylor has run for over 100 yards in three straight games and the line is giving quarterback Jeff Sinclair much more time to throw compared to earlier in the season. There are a lot of factors that play into this, according to Dalton, and one of them involves not playing one of the best teams in college football.
"Week one we played arguably one of the best teams in the country, I-AA or I-A," he said. "Getting the young guys to gel, getting our assignments down, and just seeing what everyone does well and putting it together."
Despite having chances to play around the country, Dalton chose Robert Morris because of the coaching staff's ability to connect with him. Dalton also liked the fact that he had the opportunity to come in and play right away and contend for a championship.
As for on the field, Dalton's attitude is setting the tone for the rest of the young guys up front.
"I hate everybody," he said. "Anybody who comes across my face I'll take them out, no friends."
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