August 13, 2010
Inside the Huddle: A look at the Offensive Line
INSIDE THE HUDDLE:
Going into the 2009 season, the offensive line was not only the biggest question mark, and rightfully so, but it was the biggest concern. When running the triple option, probably more so than any other type of offense, it is the guys up front that make it happen (or not). For the Black Knights guys up front, it had little to do with lack of talent, because the talent was there or at least the potential was there. But it was the transition into an entirely new offensive scheme that all honest observers knew would take at least the first ¾ quarters of the season if not longer to look like a unit that was in sync with one another.
In fairness to this unit, they eventually came together in 2009 and showed continuous progression as they went through spring practice.
This summer, the senior heavy first unit is only looking relatively sharp as a group, but they now have legitimate depth, along with youth that is mixed into both the first and second groups.
Center - Zach Peterson (Sr.); Tom Hagan (Sr.)
Left Guard - Frank Allen (Soph.); Joe Bailey (Jr.)
Left Tackle - Anees Merzi (Sr.); Brad Kelly (Jr.) or Dan Whitaker (Fr.)
Right Guard - Seth Reed (Sr.); Matt Villanti (Soph.)
Right Tackle - Jason Johnson (Sr.); Mike McDermott (Jr.)
Johnson has had a couple days off as a result of tweaking his knee. However the senior tackle should be good to go.
Although junior Joe Bailey is playing behind talented sophomore left guard Frank Allen who leads the youth charge, the Marietta, Georgia product is having an excellent summer and is coming on strong.
Allen isn't the only "youngster" that is making his presence felt. When it comes to youth, sophomore Villaniti has solidified his spot behind Reed, although he could step in at any time and there would be little drop off. Then there's plebe Dan Whitaker, who continues to impress. "He has been coming on as of late," says Offensive Coordinator, Ian Shields when talking about the freshman tackle.
Another freshman who we have projected to come in this season and add some depth is 6-foot-2, 270 pound center prospect Shelby Jackson. "Shelby sprained his shoulder and has missed the last couple of practices, but he is a very good prospect and he is one of the quicker linemen that we have. Although Jackson will most likely end up playing center, he could also project as a tackle in the Black Knights' offense.
Both Jackson and Whitaker were the two best linemen at the prep school a year ago, which continues to serve as a solid developer and feeder of talent into the Army program.
Stay tuned to GoBlackKnights.com as we report on the quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers in continued coverage of the Black Knights' summer/fall training camp.
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