Saturday could prove to be a classic case of like father, like son for the Fordham family.
Twenty-nine years ago, Jeff Fordham made his first career start on the offensive line for LSU. This Saturday, there is a strong possibility that his son Cameron Fordham, a redshirt sophomore guard for NC State, will make his first career start for the Pack. The opponent ironically is Florida State.
Fordham's family will be in attendance for the game, but in a way it will be a bittersweet moment for Fordham. His chance to start comes because starting right guard Zach Allen, a fifth-year senior and three-year starter, injured his leg at Miami last Saturday.
"You never want to see a guy like Zach Allen not ready to play," Fordham noted. "He's a leader on the offensive line. I'm grateful enough that he's helped me along the way and prepared me for this moment."
Fordham played 38 snaps after Allen was carted off the field last Saturday and did not give up a sack. He felt good about his performance, but added, "There's always things you can work on."
Playing offensive line has been a short but admittedly tough adjustment for Fordham. He was a tight end in a wishbone offense at Duluth (Ga.) Northview High weighing close to 240 pounds.
"At tight end, I am either blocking head up or kicking through to go get a linebacker," Fordham recalled. "It's a big difference going from that into a pro-style system."
The first challenge for Fordham was to get bigger. After he was done with his redshirt year at LSU and transferred into NC State last summer, Fordham was tipping the scales in the 270s. He's now pushing 290 pounds on his 6-foot-3 frame.
"Just got in the weight room and literally just kept eating," he said. "Take my protein every day."
The second adjustment was learning to become an offensive lineman.
"Using my hands and picking up the schemes," Fordham noted. "I never really knew any of the double-team actions or anything coming in."
Through hard work though Fordham has put himself into a position to be a prominent player in what may be NCSU's marquee showdown of the 2012 season: No. 3 Florida State Saturday night.
"This is a big one," Fordham acknowledged.
Fordham said that the Seminoles' defensive line on film reminds him of some of the linemen he saw every day in practice while at LSU, including athletic ends Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo.
"That whole FSU defense is good obviously, but the defensive line is especially fast," Fordham noted. "We got to stay low and really be physical, got to be physical this week.
"You just got to stay mentally prepared and be physical, and it's a great opportunity. You want to play games like that. You want to see where you are at."