Lineman measures success by the yards gained by others

Like many offensive linemen, Danny Book measures his success by the successes of those players he blocks for.

"Brian Baltimore had 1,900 yards (last year) so that was pretty good for us," said Book, a senior at Hickory Ridge. "The O-line did pretty good I would say."

You probably won't see his name in the newspapers after a game, but Book is hard to ignore. At 6-foot-6, with a frame that's trying to add to its 240 pounds, Book is drawing the attention of college scouts.

A four-year starter in two sports, Book is among Hickory Ridge's first senior class to have attended the school for four years. He's one of the leaders on a football team that hopes to build on last season's momentum of winning its first playoff game.

After breaking into football with Harrisburg's Pop Warner teams, Book spent two seasons playing both sides of the line at C.C. Griffin. One of his middle-school highlights was carrying a blocked punt into the endzone in a lopsided win over J.N. Fries, a delight for any lineman.

Growing up, Book thought that once he reached high school, he would be a Central Cabarrus Viking. But when Hickory Ridge opened in 2007, Book was redistricted to the new Harrisburg school.

Book was 6-6 by freshman year, towering over most classmates. He started the season on the junior varsity. By the fourth game, coach Marty Paxton pulled him up to varsity.

The Ragin' Bulls endured the expected growing pains during their first two seasons, winning a combined six games. They won four of their first five games in 2008, but failed to make the state playoffs with a 5-6 record.

Last season, Hickory Ridge had a 7-6 overall record and tied for second place in the South Piedmont 3A Conference. Book added defensive end to his repertoire, becoming a two-way starter.

His interception of a screen pass, which he returned for a touchdown, against Porter Ridge was one of his season highlights. His all-conference selection was for his work on the offensive line though.

Book, a three-year starter, has also been instrumental to the Hickory Ridge basketball team's ascension as one of the SPC's better teams. Last year, he made the game-winning layup as time expired in the Bulls' upset of Concord, the eventual state runner-up.

Book says a chance at playing football in college is much more likely than a basketball scholarship. After last football season, Paxton met with Book and his parents and discussed the best way for him to get noticed by colleges.

When recruiters started making contact in the spring, Book says they had the common belief that he needed to get stronger and put on some weight. This summer, Book has attended several camps hosted by ACC and SEC schools as well as smaller programs like Richmond and Elon.

"He's never played tight end but he could be a great tight end," said Paxton. "He has sacrificed. He understands (we) have to have offensive lineman.

"He's gotten faster and stronger. Strength was his weakness. He was probably middle-tier strength-wise with our team last year, but now he is in the upper tier. Maturity has helped, and basketball has helped. He has pretty good footwork and does well catching the ball and moving with the ball."

So keep your eye on Book's progress this season.