The four linemen stood, arms crossed, on the stage of the Orpheum Theater for a photo shoot. An imposing foursome — all at least 6-foot-2, weighting as much as 330 pounds — but there wasn't a lick of flash in them as they glared into the camera.
Flash doesn't come naturally to linemen. They are their teams' workhorses, the spotlight rarely shining, toiling in virtual anonymity.
But this group will wreak havoc with opponents this fall. Count on it.
This is a special crop of senior linemen in the Wichita area, made up of Rose Hill's Brady Foltz, Andover Central's Boston Stiverson, Circle's Jordan Phillips and Wichita South's Jordan Turner.
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All four had solid 2009 seasons, but each expects to dominate as seniors before playing major-college football.
Turner is the heaviest at 330 pounds, and he hopes to get down to around 300 for the season. Phillips (6-4, 302), an Oklahoma oral commitment, is the most impressive — not only is he tall, he's muscular.
"The biggest thing about (Turner) is just how quick he is off the ball," South coach Cory Brack said. "Once he gets in on you, it's a done deal."
Athleticism has also boosted the other recruits in minds of college coaches.
Stiverson, Foltz and Phillips are all major contributors on the basketball court, and all four are quick and mobile. Stiverson was a fullback growing up and didn't move to the line until high school.
" (Phillips') ability to get from A to B is extremely amazing for his size," Circle coach Lee LaMunyon said. "You take a kid that has turned on the switch to work hard in the last seven, eight months, he's liable to shock himself on what he can do this year."
That ability to flip a switch mentally is key because aggression is a necessary ingredient for a lineman. And it's most obvious on the defensive line.
"I played off of my toughness and aggression last year," said Turner, a 6-4 Memphis oral commitment who has been called a beast by opposing coaches. "That's how I base my game, and I made a lot of plays on that."
"Defense is, you react to the ball, be a little more nasty," Foltz said.
"There are some kids, they are offensive linemen all the way. They get their job done, they do it well, but they don't have that switch," he said.
Yet aggressiveness is crucial on the offensive line, too. But it's muted.
"You can't let them come to you on the offensive line," said Stiverson (6-2, 225), a Kansas State oral commitment. "You have to make an impact at the line of scrimmage. You have to be more aggressive than all the other players on the field."
Defensive linemen trash talk Foltz when he's playing on the offensive line, often calling him fat. He doesn't respond, preferring to flatten the defensive player on the next down.
Yet he controls that aggression.
"If you're too aggressive, you will get beat, you will get burned. I learned that the hard way," Foltz said.
Against Buhler in the Class 4A quarterfinals last November, Foltz (6-4, 294) wasn't under control and he got beat. Even though it was his best game — he had 14 pancake blocks — what sticks out was him aggression leading to him getting beat.
"I always want to go out there and react to what the defense is doing," said Foltz, a TCU commitment. "Get your hands on them, you've done your job. If you throw them to the ground, even better."
Technique is vital on the offensive line. Much more than on the defensive side, where linemen often use brute strength to bull through the offense.
"You've got to use your hands, you have to get off the block," Brack said. "It's not going full-blow."
Rose Hill coach Greg Slade, a former lineman, is adamant about exactly what a lineman needs.
"It's about repetition and stepping and getting yourself in the right position," he said. "A lineman has his hands on somebody every play on both sides of the ball."
He also expects his linemen to be intelligent and aware.
"Size is good," Slade said. "Size makes you better, but you also have to have that ability to be aware. I kind of harp on some of our kids. They have a hard time figuring out what they're supposed to do, and I think they should know what the guy next to them is supposed to do."