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Vollmer is hooked late in second round

By Mike Reiss
Globe Staff / April 26, 2009
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FOXBOROUGH - The Patriots went fishing for their final second-round draft choice last night, and hooked a "Sea Bass" on their line in selecting Houston offensive tackle Sebastian Vollmer (58th overall).

Vollmer, nicknamed "Sea Bass," addresses a longer-range need, as the Patriots have 11 of their 14 offensive linemen entering the final year of their contracts.

The 24-year-old Vollmer was born in Germany and started playing American rules football for a club team, the Dusseldorf Panthers, when he was 14. He later played for the German national team and a European all-star team, the latter of which put him on the radar for college programs in the United States.

In 2004, he was recruited by Houston, Western Michigan, Louisiana Tech, and Indiana, and spoke little English upon arriving on Houston's campus. He graduated with a degree in communications and was working on a second degree in economics.

"I was definitely not fluent when I first got here," he said. "I taught myself, learned the language, and just started talking and got better at it over time."

At times, he said it was challenging to play football while battling the language barrier, but he called the sport more of an outlet for him, "where you can just relax and do what you know and what you love to do."

Vollmer, 6 feet 7 inches, 312 pounds, and with long arms, was one of the draft's under-the-radar prospects, as he was not invited to February's combine. He turned in a strong performance at the East-West Shrine Game that seemingly helped his draft stock, although the Pro Football Weekly draft preview rated him as only a late-round selection.

Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia traveled to Houston to work with Vollmer, and he must have passed along a solid report to Bill Belichick.

"He has a lot of good attributes to work with," Belichick said of Vollmer, noting he can play both sides on the line. "He's a tough kid, very smart, a well-conditioned athlete. He's a big man."

Playing in a pass-based offense at Houston, Vollmer started his college career playing tackle and tight end, before becoming a full-time lineman. He didn't miss a start over the last two seasons, emerging after sitting out 2006 with a herniated disk in his back.

As for where Vollmer fits in New England, Matt Light (left) and Nick Kaczur (right) return as the Patriots' starting tackles. Light's contract runs through 2010, while Kaczur enters the final year of his deal.

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