Michael Deiter takes pride in his ability to play every position on the offensive line.
The All-Big Ten center and former starting left guard for the University of Wisconsin made the move to left tackle last month, and the Badgers’ 12 open practices of fall camp seemed to indicate he’ll be just fine making the transition.
In Deiter’s opinion, though, what he’s doing shouldn’t be nearly as rare as it is.
“I think it’s something that a lot of guys should try to do,” Deiter said. "It makes it more fun if you can play different positions, and you never know what a couple of reps at tackle could help you out with at guard. There’s something you can always learn, wherever you play. They all will end up tying together a little bit at some point."
Success at tackle could improve Deiter’s all-around game and boost his NFL draft stock, but the redshirt junior might be helping the Badgers’ offensive line even more than himself this season.
Deiter’s versatility allows impressive redshirt freshman Tyler Biadasz to start in Deiter’s former spot at center, giving UW a starting lineup that actually features its five best linemen on the roster. Deiter had the ability to mentor Biadasz for a season and then open up a spot for him when the time was right.
“I just think Michael was a great example for (Biadasz) last year,” UW offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Joe Rudolph said. "He’s here, and from Day 1, he watches the guy in front of him, and he’s like, this is how you go about doing this. This is how you prepare. This is how you communicate. I think that’s helped him a great deal."
While the switch appears destined for success, Deiter didn’t step in as a world-beater at tackle instantly.
Deiter has lost 10 to 12 pounds over the past four weeks to get down to a more ideal playing weight of 320, but the technique is quite different at tackle, and he’s still adjusting to faster, quicker edge rushers on the outside.
He was often visibly hard on himself early in fall camp when allowing someone by him in one-on-one pass rushing drills. Those instances appeared to decrease as the days went by, though.
"You really have to be a true tackle,” Deiter said. “There’s definitely been moments where I’ve instantly during a play reverted back to a guard technique or a center technique. That was more Week 1. I think by now, I’ve had enough individual work outside of practice, film work and stuff like that, where that stuff doesn’t really show up as much anymore."
Deiter admitted to being nervous about switching to tackle, but the experience of trying something new excited him. The reps he received at tackle over the last couple practices this spring went better than expected, and he knew from that point the possibility of switching was real.
The more time passes, the better Deiter will be. He’s enjoyed an extra-lengthy camp to familiarize himself with the new position, and he’ll have two games against lower-level competition when the season begins to ease his way in.
“I think you kind of grow when you’re doing something a little bit different, and you can’t fix everything at one time,” Rudolph said. "I think he’s cleaned something up each practice. I think he’s playing at his best right now."