Lineman from north of border adjusting to life in Louisiana (article)

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  1. TigerSaint

    TigerSaint Guest

    Lineman from north of border adjusting to life in Louisiana

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    Advocate sportswriter

    It's time to cue up the Canadian national anthem at Tiger Stadium. No, Mike Myers is not in town to plug the new Austin Powers movie.

    A Bryan Adams concert is not coming up. And they will not be serving Molson in the upper deck.

    But LSU does have its first Canadian football player, and he could probably toss Dr. Evil into the Pacific Ocean.

    He is 6-foot-4, 300-pound offensive lineman Peter Dyakowski of Vancouver College, a college preparatory high school in Vancouver, British Columbia. Vancouver is a picturesque city nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Coast Mountains 25 miles north of the Washington state-Canada border.

    "I could look out one window at home and see mountains and look out another and see the ocean," Dyakowski said a few days before the LSU freshmen began practice Tuesday. "Now I see the tops of swamp trees."

    He's also seeing more sweat from his solid frame than ever in his 18-year-old life. The average temperature in Vancouver in July and August is in the 60s, more than 30 degrees cooler than his typical August day now.

    "I don't think I have ever been in such a hot, humid place," Dyakowski said. "My aunt lives in Palm Springs (Calif.), where it gets in the low 100s. But that's dry as a bone. It's not humid.

    "Funny, it was a very nice and agreeable climate here back in January on my recruiting visit."

    Still, Dyakowski didn't mind walking five miles for weight training two weeks ago when he accidentally locked his keys inside his temporary residence off Staring Lane.

    He couldn't be late and wasn't. Of course, when you've driven more than 2,600 miles in four days to get to school, what's a few miles on foot one afternoon?

    Dyakowski drove from Vancouver to Baton Rouge in a 1979 Pontiac Firebird he rebuilt. His father, Tony Dyakowski, followed in a 2001 Ford pickup.

    "I followed him because I wanted it to be a vacation trip for us," his father said, "but I also followed because that thing he drives can go 150 miles an hour."

    His legs could take the walk. Dyakowski may be one of LSU's first linemen who lists downhill skiing as a hobby.

    "You have to be pretty athletic," he said. "I hope it carries over."

    Dyakowksi also hopes the exchange rate from football in Canada to the United States doesn't have him operating at too much of a deficit.

    "I would guess the level of high school football in the United States is a bit higher," he said. "But we did play American football at my school. We didn't play with the Canadian rules like in the CFL."

    Not allowing a sack is impressive regardless of country, and Dyakowski didn't let one happen from his left tackle position all season. He was also named the No. 2 offensive lineman in Canada by All-Canada Gridiron magazine.

    Canadian recruiting expert Ron Dias says Dyakowski is one of five Canadians who will have an impact on their American colleges over the next few years.

    Signing Canadians is nothing new to LSU coach Nick Saban, who had several from north of the border while an assistant and head coach at Michigan State, including Tony Mandarich of Oakville, Ontario, who was the second pick in the 1989 NFL draft.

    "The only school we had to beat for Mandarich was Kent State," Saban said. "Identifying guys is the thing. Sometimes they don't get heavily recruited and get overlooked."

    LSU beat out Eastern Washington, Oregon State and Boise State for Dyakowski.

    "At LSU, we have always scanned the terrain in Canada to see if there's three or four, especially big guys, which we're always searching for," Saban said.

    LSU offensive line coach George Yarno, who played at Washington State, recruited Dyakowski and made home visits. Todd Burnett, Dyakowski's high school coach, knows Yarno from college days and alerted him to Dyakowski.

    "Peter's in very good shape," Yarno said. "He's lean and in good proportion. In fact, he came within two percentiles of passing our freshmen 40-yard sprint, and we rarely have linemen pass that. I think he'll have a period of adjustment here with the heat, but he's going to be very good. I don't know yet if he'll play this year. Most linemen are red-shirted."

    Dyakowski realizes he may be red-shirted, but football is only part of his plan. A major reason he chose LSU was the mechanical engineering program.

    "On my visits, each school had something I liked," he said. "When I went to LSU, I liked everything. The facilities, the players, the coaches and the academics."

    Dyakowski and his older brother Alex, who is in college in Vancouver, are each members of Mensa, an exclusive society founded in England in 1946 of which the only qualification is an IQ in the top two percent of the population.

    "He's very bright, and it helps on the field," said Dyakowski's father, a London native who is a successful petroleum entrepreneur. "He remembers the plays well. He's on an extra level for thinking the plays through."

    There may be a slight problem with the translation of the snap count, though. Dyakowski has struggled with some of the accents of his teammates.

    "Once in a while, I may have to ask for someone to repeat themselves," he said. "Run that one by me again."

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