Louisiana Tech football coach Jack Bicknell refers to guard Aaron Lips as the anchor of his offensive line.
When you look at Lips' resume, it's easy to see why Bicknell feels the way he does. After redshirting in 2001 following a successful career at Independence High where he was a two-time all-state player, Lips has started 36 straight games at either guard or center entering this year's fall training camp.
The 6-5 300-pound Lips is one reason why the Bulldogs have had such a punishing ground game and potent air attack over the years. Tech averaged 4.5 per rush last year, as Lips & Co. opened plenty of holes for tailback Ryan Moats, who rushed for more than 1,700 yards, earning him a spot in the Philadelphia Eagles' training camp.
Before that, he spent time protecting Luke McCown (now in the NFL), who passed for more than 12,000 yards in his Bulldog career and led Tech to the 2001 WAC championship during Lips' redshirt season.
"Things are going pretty good," Lips said at the recent WAC Media Day in Reno. "I'm looking forward to my last season."
No doubt he would like to be a repeat first-team all-WAC performer, which would be another feather in his hat and earn him even further attention from the NFL.
What's not to like about Lips? According to coaches, he's improved every year, is intelligent, athletic and has the soundest technique on the squad.
"He's a great player, the leader of our entire offense," Bicknell said. "He is a legitimate NFL player who has a lot of big-game experience."
"I think he has a great chance at the next level," said line coach Pete Perot, who was an offensive lineman in the NFL for eight years.
Indeed. Lips has played in all of the Bulldogs' games over the years against Miami, Auburn and the like. He's gone up against the best around the country and held his own.
His rise to success has come through a lot of hard work. In five years at Tech, he has gone from 260 to 305, and make no mistake about it, that's all muscle. He's been a constant visitor to the weightroom and his technique has improved, too.
"I came in at 260 and I was a pretty strong guy," Lips said. "I put on about 10 pounds that first year and got up to 270. I've improved to 305. That's one way I've improved. In the off-season, I didn't go home ever for more than a week. A lot of people are doing the same thing, staying in the off-season to work out.
"One step can get you burnt no doubt and get your quarterback sacked or a running back tackled behind the line."
Lips said he's a better run blocker now, but that he his working hard on his technique to become a better pass blocker.
"He understood the running game, and did everything the way he was supposed to do it," said Perot. "He's getting better every year with his footwork and technique, and learning angles.
"He has to continue to work on those things. The most important thing is staying healthy and playing in every game. His strength level has gotten better. He's got that."
The Lips File
Hometown: Tickfaw, Louisiana
Year in school: Senior
Major: Liberal Arts