This is my story for today’s print editions:
TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker has a favorite song, and he probably likes it so much because he wrote it.
Well, fellow lineman Chance Warmack and Tide strength coach Scott Cochran can share a writing credit, too, but Fluker contributed what seems to be the only lyric: “Get your mind right.”
From what Fluker demonstrated for reporters this week, the song pretty much goes like this: “Get your mind right” (clap) “get your mind right” (clap) “get your mind right” and on and on.
It likely won’t make the top 40 anytime soon, but it seems to make Fluker’s teammates smile and adds to his stature as the emotional leader of Alabama’s offense. If you really do need to “get your mind right,” the 6-foot-6, 335-pound friendly giant is always willing to help.
“Yeah, D.J. is big on kind of firing up people, and getting fired up,” Alabama center Barrett Jones said, as he began smiling the moment he began talking about Fluker. “I’m kind of less of an emotional person, but that’s kind of how D.J. plays, on emotion, and he does enjoy getting his mind right.”
When Alabama trailed LSU in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s 21-17 win, it was Fluker on the sidelines going from player to player, shouting something between motivation and encouragement.
“I told them they got to believe,” Fluker said. “You can’t base it off, ‘They scored, OK.’ You can’t just hang your head and be like, ‘OK, we lost the game.’ I was like, ‘I’ve got to believe, keep on driving.’ ”
But if you ask Fluker if he’s the emotional driving force of the offensive line, he will laugh.
“I can’t just take all the credit for that,” he said. “That’s Barrett Jones, Chance — Chance talks, too — and (Anthony) Steen. We all talk to each other. The best thing about it is that when anybody says, ‘Hey, let’s pick it up,’ and everybody picks it up.
“Kind of like being a little catfish, you know?”
Warmack, the starting left guard, has developed into Fluker’s best friend on the team, and he said Fluker really is the emotional leader, no matter what the big tackle might say. According to Warmack, Fluker is no “little catfish.”
“He brings the energy to everybody: defense, offense, special teams,” Warmack said. “If it’s a sluggish practice, he’s going to be the one yelling and keeping everyone upbeat. … He’s always focused, he’s always looking at motivational movies to get him right. He’s a true leader.”
As a fourth-year junior and third-year starter, Fluker has gained popularity on campus, too. You might say he’s a bit of an emotional leader there as well.
At 6-6, he’s hard to miss, but while other students used to pass him regularly without speaking, that’s changed. He said he likes it when people say something.
“It’s pretty neat that people walk by, ‘Hey, Fluke, how you doing?’ I speak back,” he said. “I do it because people love it.”