|ESPN.com: Big 12||[Print without images]|
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
IRVING, Texas -- There's something about playing football that brings out a different side in Texas A&M junior Lucas Patterson.
And that might be an understatement. Once the 6-foot-4, 308-pounder puts on the pads, he has a different attitude.
"I'm a laid-back, quiet kind of guy except when I get on the field," Patterson said. "But coach said I have a mean streak and I kind of want to rip the head off the guy in front of me."
That disposition helped convince Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman to move Patterson from defensive tackle to offensive tackle, where he's penciled in as the Aggies' starting left tackle.
That position speaks to the athleticism that Sherman believes Patterson will bring to the position, where his major job will be protecting quarterback Jerrod Johnson's blind side.
"When I look at a football team, I look at a pass-blocker as pretty important," Sherman said. "If he was a dominant pass-rusher, unblockable and can change context of the game, I would probably keep him on defense. But if he's not playing left tackle, the other guy could probably change the context of the game against us.
"I think that Lucas is a guy, athletically, if he would probably be more ready to play than defense. He has the confidence and a 'Cool Luke' attitude. He doesn't get flustered and is very smart and tough and gives us a certain amount of credibility to that group by joining them."
Johnson said he has no hesitation about Patterson, despite his recent lack of experience on offense. The A&M quarterback remembers his contributions as an offensive lineman when both were freshmen players.
"I have the ultimate confidence in Lucas," Johnson said. "He played offensive line then and held his own every day."
Patterson produced 34 tackles in 11 starts at defensive tackle last season.
That move will enable A&M to move Michael Shumard to left guard. Lee Grimes will move to right tackle and several players are competing for the right guard position with Kevin Matthews at center.
"I think it makes us stronger," Sherman said. "On offense, if we can keep the ball longer on offense we can help our defense. I thought long and hard about that. It does weaken us a little in the defensive line. But I feel like Lucas can be a good offensive lineman and really help us."