Over the last decade, high-caliber offensive linemen in Massachusetts have been coming from seemingly anywhere, from any level of competition.
Millis’ Jon Baker was considered a crown jewel of Steve Addazio’s 2014 recruiting class of linemen at Boston College; the Eagles have also shown interest in another Division 6 lineman, Lynnfield rising junior Cam DeGeorge. Heck, a look at the current crop of MIAA-bred hoggies in the NFL resembles a cast of Greater Boston League also-rans more than a Top 10 statewide poll, between Gosder Cherilus (Somerville), Breno Giacomini (Malden) and Mackenzy Bernardeau (Waltham).
Could Matignon High two-way tackle Badara Traore be the next lineman to emerge from obscurity?
The 6-foot-5, 280-pound Hyde Park resident is a two-way threat for the Warriors, who compete in Division 6 and went 2-9 in head coach Anthony Nalen’s first year at the helm. He’s not quite a finished product, but a look at his film shows some loud intangibles:
His hands, measuring at 9-1/2 inches, are like clamps at times, and show some violent punch. His wingspan has been measured at 6-foot-11.
That helps explain some of the sudden interest in Traore, who has not attended any colleges’ camps this summer. Nalen has sent Traore’s film out to colleges and recruiting services, and earlier this week he got a bite when he was told by a service on Wednesday that some Division 1 schools had begun to take some interest, most notably Eastern Michigan and Cincinnati.
“I do know that when I shake his hand, it wraps around mine –- and when he’s angry, it hurts sometimes,” Nalen said with a laugh. “He’s got a very big wingspan. He’s really good at getting up out of his stance and getting out.”
Traore has dedicated himself to improving footwork this offseason, to the point where Nalen jokingly calls him a “ladder junkie”, in reference to the popular agility drill.
Not to mention, Traore has a bit of a mean streak in him.
“The kid’s got some gifts in terms of ability that can’t be taught,” Nalen said. “He’s got that anger in him and it comes out when he’s playing. He’s got that nastiness to him.”
The Warriors took their lumps last fall, starting seven freshmen both ways. The good news is reinforcements appear on the way, with a reportedly beefier line led by Traore, Marc Etienne (6-1, 250), Joseph Feeney (6-4, 225), Andrew Flynn (6-1, 225) and Matt Hernon (5-11, 210). That should work favorably for running back Berlino Felix, another Warrior beginning to rise on the radar.
“His growth has been great,” Nalen said of Traore. “From last year to now, his maturity and attitude has improved by leaps and bounds. He was one of those kids that was off and on in the weight room, almost afraid to lead. Now, he’s first in the weight room and last to leave. Kids look up to him now, he’s fully committed and a captain of this team.”