Sunday, February 24, 2008

By Nick Wagoner

Senior Writer

INDIANAPOLIS – The path to the multi-million dollar pay day for LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey took a long detour Saturday afternoon.

The consensus among those NFL people in the know is that Dorsey is the top prospect in this year’s NFL Draft. There’s no doubt among scouts and coaches that Dorsey can be a dominant force in the middle of any defensive line.

But that comes with the caveat that Dorsey is fully healthy. With that, Dorsey spent almost an entire day at an Indianapolis hospital undergoing a full battery of medical tests meant to evaluate just how healthy the star defensive tackle is.

“I got to the hospital around 9 (am),” Dorsey said. “I left about 6:30 (pm). I had MRIs, cat scans, everything. They looked at things from high school that they want to check out. It was quite interesting. I just had to stay patient and know it will pay off one day.”

That payday will come soon to Dorsey one way or another assuming his health checks out OK. But that didn’t stop assembled media from peppering Dorsey with medical questions, something that should no doubt prepare him for the line of questioning he will almost certainly face from general managers, scouts and coaches in the next couple of nights.

And those questions will come for valid reasons. The buzz at the combine Sunday afternoon centered on the last effects of a stress fracture to his right tibia Dorsey suffered in 2006. Dorsey played through the injury in 2006 and went all out to ensure he could play in 2007 though he was still injured for most of the season.

The tibia injury is apparently in a spot where it’s difficult to heal without months of rest. In addition, Dorsey had a tweaked hamstring in preseason drills, a sprained right knee and a sore lower back at various points of the 2007 season.

Still, Dorsey played through the pain and when he was at his healthiest point (the BCS Championship game) he was the most singularly disruptive force in LSU’s National Championship victory against Ohio State.

“I have not missed a game since I got to LSU,” Dorsey said. “Everybody gets bruised up. That's the way I look at it. Who does not go through a season without getting bumps and bruises? I don't think it's an issue at all. I've played every game since I've

been at LSU, my whole four years, so I do not think it's a problem at all.”

That toughness is just a small sample of why Dorsey is considered perhaps the best player regardless of position in the 2008 draft.

The Rams, who own the second pick in the draft. Are believed to be extremely interested in Dorsey and a clean bill of health would certainly bring him into play in St. Louis.

Dorsey has his share of connections to St. Louis, as well. Playing at LSU, Dorsey was around when defensive coordinator Jim Haslett was the head coach of the New Orleans Saints.

When asked about playing Haslett’s system, Dorsey was quick to acknowledge it would be fun but also gave the diplomatic response that is music to an agent’s ears.

“It will be great,” Dorsey said. “I just need an opportunity. Any team that gives me an opportunity, I'm going to give them 100 percent. I'm just going to be thankful and grateful to the team that drafts me and I'm going to give them my all.”

OK, Dorsey wouldn’t bite on that. But he was a little more forthcoming when asked about former LSU teammate and current Ram Claude Wroten. Dorsey is quick to credit Wroten and fellow former teammate Kyle Williams for helping develop different parts of his game.

“What didn't I learn (from them)?” Wroten said. “Kyle is a mentor to me. He taught me how to come out and play hard no matter what. It didn't matter if it was 1 degree or 1,000 degrees. Claude taught me how to use athleticism in the game. He wasn't a big technician but he was a gifted athlete. I took from both of them.”

Dorsey combined that athleticism and technique into being the one player in the draft that most scouts agree can be dominant at either nose tackle or the three technique. After becoming an All American in 2006, Dorsey passed on leaving early for the draft to help LSU win a national championship.

Dorsey went on to just about every accolade possible in his final season in 2007. In his final year as a Tiger, Dorsey was an All American again and picked up the Bronco Nagurski Award, the Lombardi Award, the Outland Trophy and the Lott Trophy, the first player to earn all four awards in a season.

The Tigers went on to win the BCS title and Dorsey cemented his status as a top prospect with his performance against the Buckeyes, proving that when healthy there was nary a force in college football as dominant.

“When Dorsey is at full strength, he is a dominator,” draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. said. “What I like about Dorsey is that he gives you that Ray Lewis mentality. He is so energized and football is all that matters. Everybody around him becomes better when he’s on the field. You saw him play through injuries when very few would have been out there playing. He went out there when most guys would have been in street clothes watching on the field. Dorsey is special in that sense – in his approach and attitude.”

It is that passion combined with his explosive speed and burst off the ball that make Dorsey an appealing candidate for the Rams with the second pick or even for the Dolphins with the first overall selection.

The Rams are believed to have genuine interest in Dorsey and Executive Vice President of Player Personnel Billy Devaney is quick to lavish him with praise.

“I love Dorsey as a player,” Devaney said. “To me he’s an impact guy. He’s an every down player. I think he elevates people around him and makes them better. His work ethic and passion for the game. I think the guy is going to be a great pro.”

A lot will change between now and April, but Dorsey will at some point have to prove to teams he is healthy and capable of being the dominant player many believe he can be. Dorsey will not work out here this week after missing out on preparation time grieving the death of his grandmother.

Contrary to early reports, though, Dorsey arrived at the combine and went through the medical tests. He will stick around for the interview process and make his case before getting himself together in time for LSU’s Pro Day. He checked in at 6’2, 297 pounds at the weigh in Saturday afternoon.

While Dorsey waits and heals up, he will do everything possible to make the case for being the top pick in the draft.

“That's why everybody is out here today. You want to be that guy that gets his name called first. You want to set yourself up to go as high as possible. That would be a dream. That is the ultimate goal.”

With a clean bill of health, Dorsey could realize that goal in April.