Tella's versatility a bonus for 'Canes
By Charlie Grau
Aug 27, 2004

( - Tella, a junior from Houston, doesn't care what position he's playing, as long as he is.

After playing sparingly in six games throughout his college career, the 6-foot-5, 298-pounder, whose work ethic was questioned early at UM, is anxious to finally be counted on.

And he realizes it's his versatility that could make him valuable.

"I just know that I'm going to do whatever it takes to help the team out," said Tella, who backed up right tackle Carlos Joseph last season. "I feel more comfortable at guard, and it allows me to be more aggressive."

Offensive line coach Art Kehoe plans to use his top eight players no matter the positions, so most linemen have learned more than one spot preparing the team for injuries that usually occur, and have already struck. Butler is in a cast, center Joel Rodriguez is bothered by a sore knee and Tella has sat out a few practices because of back spasms and a knee injury.

"You're an offensive lineman," Kehoe said of what he tells his players. "Don't tell me you're a right tackle. Don't tell me you're a center. You're an offensive lineman. You've got a chance to play all five positions.

"We're going to find a way to get the best five on the field. When one guy goes down, it doesn't mean the guy behind him is going in. It's the next best guy that is going in."

Tella has stayed within that top group but is being pushed by junior college transfer Tyler McMeans and redshirt freshman Derrick Morse.

"He's looked exceptional," coach Larry Coker said of Tella. "He just continues to get oiled up and gets to work, and I think he's going to be fine."

Morse is behind Tella at left tackle.

McMeans' performance this fall at right guard has caught the coaching staff's attention and might prompt senior Chris Myers, who has started the past two seasons at right guard, to move to tackle until Butler gets back.

"When we gel together, we'll be better than last year's line," Tella said. "[But] all five guys on the line have to do their job all the time for their job to be successful."

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