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Never a doubt for Dorsey Dorsey says he'll be at full strength for title game

Louisiana State defensive tackle says he has no regrets about delaying his NFL career, but one 'chop' block almost cost him a lot of money.

January 04, 2008|Chris Dufresne | Times Staff Writer

NEW ORLEANS -- Bryan Lee, a blind blues guitarist who has been opening eyes for years in the French Quarter, apologized during Wednesday night's set for a lingering cold that had strained his vocal cords.

Not that a measly virus was going to stop him.

"You got to play hurt," Lee croaked. "How many times this year did Glenn Dorsey play hurt?"

Dorsey, Louisiana State's ferocious defensive tackle, is an inspiration to singers and sackers.

Against the advice of accountants, the All-American put the NFL on hold and returned for his senior season at LSU.

Dorsey has led the Tigers into Monday night's Bowl Championship Series title game against Ohio State despite playing much of the season with injuries that made him half the player he was -- and still better than almost anybody else.

His decision to forgo NFL millions looked like an expensive one Oct. 20 when an Auburn guard buckled Dorsey's right knee with an illegal "chop" block.

No serious damage was done, but Dorsey had to hobble through the last five games.

"It was tough, man," Dorsey said Thursday during a media session. "I was in pain. And I'm watching plays that usually I can just destroy. That was the biggest thing. My body was hurting, but the mental thing was just killing me."

Dorsey has been through worse.

As a child growing up in Gonzales, La., about 25 miles southwest of Baton Rouge, Dorsey wore leg braces for two years to correct bowed legs.

Watching the other kids play only motivated him.

"Once I was able to do something, somebody was going to pay," Dorsey said. "That's just the way I approached it."

Dorsey eventually straightened up to 6 feet 2 and now he weighs more than 300 pounds. On one-and-a-half legs for much of this season, he still finished with 64 tackles, six sacks and 11.5 tackles for losses.

He has been double- or triple-teamed on every down since probably the age of 10.

One Southeastern Conference coach said it took at least four hands to slow Dorsey down.

LSU defensive end Kirston Pittman doubted Dorsey could be contained with a single player.

"Not on this level," Pittman said. "I don't think anybody can block him at all."

Linebacker Ali Highsmith likes when Dorsey is in the game because "it frees us up and lets us run around and play ball."

And Dorsey coming out is like a cave collapse.

"You can tell the difference," Highsmith said.

It became clear this year that even a hobbled Dorsey was better than no Dorsey.

"You're not as good when you take him out of the lineup, everybody knows that," LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini said.

Dorsey was so hampered by injuries he only made first-team All American -- again -- and won the Nagurski Award, the Lombardi Award, the Lott Award and the Outland Trophy.

"There's a lot of great guys, great players in the country," Dorsey said. "I was hurt the last four or five games. To still come out and win those awards, to see people recognize the hard work and effort I put into the game, it was unbelievable . . . I was shocked, tell you the truth. But thanks."

Here's why Ohio State may now be singing the blues: In the time between LSU's last game on Dec. 1 and now, Dorsey went to practice and felt no pain.

"I feel great, I ain't lying to you," Dorsey said Thursday.

Ohio State was already running up electric bills trying to plan against Dorsey anyway, but this additional bit of news cannot be comforting.

Ohio State tackle Alex Boone, part of a consortium of Buckeyes who will try to contain Dorsey, has seen all the game tape he needs to see.

"There are plays when he just picks people off the ground," Boone said.

No telling how great Dorsey would be if he were mean -- but he's not.

He says he's not even upset at the Auburn player who almost ruined his career.

"I let it go," he said. "I'm fine now, my team is in the national championship game, I have no hard feelings. It is what it is . . . my family wasn't too happy with it, but I just kept on ticking."

A lot of people thought Dorsey was a fool for leaving millions on the table to return for his senior year, but he says, injuries and all, it has been worth it.

Dorsey may be the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft. One scout has called him more disruptive than a small-town divorce, yet the NFL is the last thing he wants to discuss now.

"I try not to look at all that, man," Dorsey said. "I get mad when I go home and my family talks about it. I go, 'Look, please let me focus on this game.' I try not to worry about all that. I try to stay humble, I'm still a college athlete. That can wait."

What Dorsey can't wait for is Monday, when he can finally line up against somebody without thinking about that lingering injury.

"What injury?" he said, smiling.

--

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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