Lafayette lineman Klock ready to represent Peninsula in all-star showcase

When Lafayette football coach Andy Linn calls offensive tackle Dexter Klock's 2016 highlights video one of the most impressive he's ever seen, it's like hearing Dr. Frankenstein laud his creation.

In Klock, Linn constructed a blocking monster, though Trey Neville and other former teammates deserve assists.

Klock, a 6-foot-4, 270-pound senior who will start for the Peninsula squad against the Southside in the 757 All-Star Game at 1 p.m. on Saturday at Old Dominion University's Powhatan Field, recalls a beat-down he took from Neville on the first day of practice before the 2015 season.

It's not the sole reason for Klock's "nasty" attitude Linn likes so much, but it's a big part.

"It's the only time I've ever been pancaked," Klock said of being flattened by a blocker. "It was the first play of summer practice, and I was on defense going against Trey, who was at tight end.

"He came off of the ball, pulled my shoulder pads up over my head and planted me in the dirt on my (butt). He never took a play off."

Nor does Klock. Linn says Klock "plays not only to the whistle, but to the echo of the whistle."

So, for those unsuspecting defenders who slow down near the end of play because a teammate appears ready to make a tackle, the Klock video is like being in a horror show. In the spirit of Neville, who now plays for the Division I Army Black Knights, Klock's video features him knocking defender after defender silly.

Some of the knockdowns come after he's helped open a hole for Rams running backs and 757 All-Stars teammates Caleb Kraegenbrink and Kyle Johnson, who combined for nearly 3,500 yards rushing and 47 touchdowns. Though many of the hits come right at the whistle, they are legal and serve a purpose.

"I want to spring our running backs for a good play, but I want (the defenders) to get it in their heads to be scared, looking over their shoulders and not wanting to make the next tackle," Klock said. "It's a mind game. If they're scared to play, they won't play their best."

Neville wasn't the only teammate to give Klock what he calls a "baptism by fire" in Lafayette practices. He says that when he was a 6-2, 140-pound freshman, guys like Matt Hummel and Blake Guminsky — two of the program's best linebackers in recent years — "showed no mercy" on him.

"I learned that you play to win or you're going to take a beating," Klock said. "I evolved from watching the older players. Trey was a mean dude on the field and didn't play around. He showed what would happen if you stood around and took a play off, because he'd find you."

So too does Klock, whose uses an impressive burst for his size to flatten defenders. His speed is the result of natural growth and hard work in the weight room the past two years.

He supplements it with stamina gained from playing lacrosse each spring and from refusing to skip any practice-drill repetition. Interestingly, the spectacular knockdowns on the video do not give him the most satisfaction.

"I'd rather play against the better players, because I love good competition," he said.

Klock will likely get more of it after going against some of South Hampton Roads' best Saturday. Little-known before this season, Klock received two Division II offers (from Virginia State and the University of Virginia at Wise) and Linn expects some smaller Division I schools to offer soon.

"Whoever gets him is getting a steal," Linn said.

Klock understands at 6-4 he's a "tweener." He's considered small for D-I schools looking for leverage from 6-5 and 6-6 types and taller than most D-II offensive linemen. Klock doesn't care if he ends up on the Division II level as long as he can continue to add to his highlight reel.

"Playing for Lafayette and Coach Linn was a great honor," said Klock, who helped Lafayette finish 13-1 and reach the Group 4A state semifinals this season. "He taught me how to be a physical player and instilled a lot of drive in me.

"I love the brotherhood of football and would like to play for a good team, because I learned at Lafayette that losing is not OK."

O'Brien can be reached by phone at 757-247-4963.

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