Oher Sets Sights on Starting

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The Ravens added depth to their offensive line with the addition of Mississippi tackle Michael Oher with the drafts 23rd-overall pick.

Oher has bigger plans.

Even though he has yet to play a single down of NFL football, Oher wants to start. And even though the Ravens thought so much of the 6-foot-4, 309-pounder that they gave up a fifth-round draft pick to the New England Patriots to jump from No. 26 to No. 23, Oher knows he will have to compete for the position.

"Of course it's my goal, but I've got to come in and compete and earn the trust of my coaches and my teammates as well," Oher said Sunday during his introductory press conference. "I've got every tool I need to start and compete right away. If I get the opportunity to start, I'm going to take care of my business."

Holding a purple Ravens jersey was a proud moment for Oher. As documented in the book "The Blind Side," a New York Times best-seller, Oher has overcome homelessness, a drug-addicted mother and an absentee father to get to where he is now.

"It's been a long road for me," he continued. "I've come a long way from where I grew up. [I grew up] in a rough neighborhood, and I had a rough upbringing. For me to be a part [of the NFL is what matters]. I don't care [that] people say I [should have been picked] here and there. But as long as I got drafted [I was happy], and I'm going to spend a long time in the NFL."

It was somewhat surprising that the Ravens were even able to grab Oher. Many draft analysts ranked him among the top five tackles in the draft. The Ravens listed him among their 15 best players.

He has the prototypical build for a tackle and displays surprising athleticism to protect the quarterback, but critics have questioned his ability to digest a complicated NFL playbook.

Still, Oher has dealt with that argument his entire life.

Oher was adopted as a teenager by Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, a big-hearted couple in Memphis that helped stabilize his life after he attended 11 different schools in his young life. A former basketball prodigy, Oher didn't make the varsity football team until he was a junior at a small private school called Briarcrest Christian.

Because football was so new to him, Oher employed elementary techniques in order to learn the fundamentals, such as lining up the Tuohys' kitchen chairs to diagram a defense.

"Football isn't in his first nature, so if you put it out there visually, he can get it," said Sean Tuohy, a former star point guard for the Ole Miss basketball team. "It's almost scary how sharp his memory recall is. We would just set up the kitchen and show him what it's supposed to look like."

In college, Oher had three different offensive coordinators in four years, bringing three different systems with them.

Even so, Oher became a consensus All-American and unanimous All-Southeastern Conference performer for the Rebels, improving each season.

"He really takes this seriously," Tuohy stated. "He'll fight. He has two missed assignments in four years, and he argues about one of them."

The Ravens don't doubt that Oher will contribute to the offense and mesh with the team-first beliefs of head coach John Harbaugh.

"I've been doing this now for five or six years, and I just got a sense that this kid really was going to be a great fit here from Day One," explained Baltimore director of player personnel Eric DeCosta. "From the first moment he came in, I saw the passion and the toughness and determination - all those qualities that we look for in our players.

"[The qualities] that coach [John] Harbaugh has been able to instill in our players, Michael has."

In order to make the first string, Oher will have to compete with incumbent starter Willie Anderson and Adam Terry at right tackle.

First, Oher wants to absorb as much as he can from the veterans in the locker room.

"They're proven players,"' said Oher, adding six-time Pro Bowl center Matt Birk's name to the conversation. "They've been in the league a long time, and they've been through it. So, whatever I can do to learn from those guys, I'm going to be watching them closely and doing the exact thing they're doing."

Oher already knows all about his newest rival, however.

"I'm going to give it my all and just do everything I possibly can to beat Pittsburgh," he said.

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