TUSCALOOSA, Alabama – At this time last year, Le’Ron McClain was already calling then-rookie D.J. Fluker one of the San Diego Chargers’ leaders.
After a year of watching Fluker start at both tackle positions, the former Alabama fullback offered up even higher praise for a player he views as “one of the best right tackles in the game right now.”
“It’s scary to see how good that guy was in his first year with the type of leadership he showed as a rookie,” McClain, a teammate of Fluker’s in 2013, said Saturday before the start of his annual free youth football camp.
McClain, a seven-year NFL veteran, was cut by the Chargers in March, but his memories of the former Alabama All-American tackle were fresh as he stood on the sidelines Saturday morning at American Christian Academy.
“One time he got in front of the whole team in front of eight-, nine-, 10-year vets and gave a speech about winning. That’s what he’s about,” McClain said. “We lost a few games and he couldn’t stand it. He couldn’t stand it and he got in front of the whole team and told us how it’s supposed to be.
“We couldn’t do nothing but respect being that type of guy to get in front of guys like Phillip Rivers and Antonio Gates and Nick Hardwick and tell them we can’t be doing what we’re doing with this losing and taking it for granted.”
Fluker, the 11th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, started every game in which he was available and was primarily used at right tackle. When former Auburn tackle King Dunlap went down with an injury in November, Fluker filled in at left tackle.
Fluker’s efforts helped San Diego reach the playoffs for the first time since 2009. He was one of two tackles named to the Pro Football Writers Association’s All-Rookie team.
“Great guy, great ballplayer and sky’s the limit for him. He’s one of the best right tackles in the game right now,” McClain said. “It’s like no other, the way he works, the way he approaches the game, the way he approaches practice, the way he gets us live before we go out at games on Sundays. It never changes with Fluker. You get one guy all day.”