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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Starting tackle Britton tabbed as top-10 pick in 2009 NFL Draft

    UA offensive tackle Eben Britton (77) prepares to block USC linebacker Brian Cushing during a 17-10 Trojan win Oct. 25 at Arizona Stadium. Britton is rated as high as the seventh overall draft prospect for the 2009 NFL Draft thanks to his consistent play during his three years as a starter.
    UA offensive tackle Eben Britton (77) prepares to block USC linebacker Brian Cushing during a 17-10 Trojan win Oct. 25 at Arizona Stadium. Britton is rated as high as the seventh overall draft prospect for the 2009 NFL Draft thanks to his consistent play during his three years as a starter.

    The cornerstone of any good offense are the big boys up front: the offensive line. Arizona’s standout offensive lineman, starting left tackle Eben Britton, could be part of a foundation for squads that suit up on Sundays following the conclusion of this year.

    ESPN’s Todd McShay recently came out with his top-32 prospects for the 2009 NFL Draft and pegged Britton as the No. 7 overall player with a grade of 96.

    “”I’ve heard it. My brother is like my No. 1 fan,”” Britton said. “”He’s always looking up stuff and Google-ing me and stuff. He’ll give me a call and say, ‘Eb, did you hear?’

    “”But it’s awesome. I’m excited about it,”” Britton added. “”I come out here every day and I work as hard as I can, and I guess that’s what’s happened so far.””

    While Britton was named to the 2008 Outland Trophy Award Preseason Watch List – an annual award given to the nation’s top offensive or defensive lineman – he was also listed as just the 13th best offensive tackle at the beginning of the year, according to Scout.com. But his consistent and smart play this season has helped his draft stock rise throughout the year. Going into Saturday’s game against Washington State, the redshirt junior has yet to be penalized this season and is a driving force on an offensive unit averaging just more than 39 points and 400 yards per game.

    “”Eben is a really good player. He brings leadership (to the team) and that’s the most important thing that he brings,”” said UA offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh. “”He’s a dominant guy out there, obviously, but he’s gotta continue to get better and improve in a lot of things.

    “”Making the move from right to left (tackle) isn’t as easy a transition as some people think,”” Bedenbaugh added. “”Most of the time the best pass rusher is over there but he’s adapted well and obviously he’s got to continue to improve.””

    Despite his play so far this season, coaches will be the first ones to point out that there is always room for the 6-foot-6, 310-pound Britton to improve, despite his lofty ratings.

    “”That’s the most important thing, is being comfortable and understanding you’re going against a better pass rusher every time you’re out there,”” Bedenbaugh said. “”He’s just got to continue to improve and continue to see things from (the left) side and that’s just experience.””

    Experience is something that Britton isn’t short on. After redshirting during the 2005 season, Britton has started every game since then at one of the tackle positions. He was selected as a second-team all-conference performer last year and is on pace to at least match that this season. That kind of talent is something UA head coach Mike Stoops said he saw in Britton early on in the recruiting process.

    “”Doesn’t surprise me,”” Stoops said of Britton’s draft ratings. “”We always thought he had huge talent coming in. I think from the first day we recruited him and saw him as a junior we knew he was a special player in high school.””

    Even if his coaches saw something special in him, and even if he’s getting more national attention this season, Britton won’t be heard bragging about his achievements. He said part of the reason he’s getting more recognition is because of the team’s success, and that’s something he plans to continue to target during the final four games of the season.

    “”I don’t really know what to say. It’s just exciting to know that … all the hard work is paying off. I haven’t really thought about it like that,”” Britton said. “”You just come out here and get better every day, and that’s what the payoff is, I guess. We don’t really focus on individual stuff. … It’s all nice to hear, but there are bigger plans.””

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