"I was especially pleased with the way our players picked up our run-blocking schemes. I knew we would be reasonably good with our pass protections, but our guys have really come along nicely in the running game. They've taken it to heart and done some really nice things."
All-conference candidate Joel Glover (6-5, 283) anchors the group from his left tackle position. A two-year starter, Glover has been Army's most consistent performer up front since breaking into the lead cast as a sophomore and carries an 18-game starting string into his final campaign. Following a solid showing this spring, classmate Adam Wojcik (6-3, 282) appears to be the front-runner at left guard, while junior Justin Troy (6-2, 285) took advantage of an injury to last year's starter at center, David Evetts (6-1, 275), and projects to the top job at that position. Troy, who assumed a starting role late last season after Evetts was originally injured, has made tremendous strides, and was voted the team's most improved offensive player at the conclusion of spring drills. A healthy return by Evetts could result in a fierce battle for playing time at that spot.
"Right now, Justin Troy has made that a very competitive position," Ross states. "Justin can also play guard for us if we get in a pinch, so I think he is very valuable."
On the right side of the line, junior Pete Bier (6-4, 289) and senior Seth Nieman (6-5, 292) will enter preseason camp listed as the starters at guard and tackle, respectively. Bier started much of last season at left guard, while Nieman manned the lead role at right tackle throughout last fall. Seniors Jake Holly (6-2, 286) and Andy Dytrych (6-2, 281) should also figure prominently after sitting out spring drills due to injuries. Holly began last season as the starter at right guard before suffering a knee injury during the second game of the season. He has been sidelined ever since, but is expected to be at full strength this fall. The same can be said for Dytrych, who replaced Holly in the Black Knights' lead cast, but sat out the spring due to a shoulder problem.
In all, Army's most battle-tested unit sports eight different players that have started games during their collegiate careers. The veteran foursome of Glover (18), Nieman (13), Dytrych (12) and Bier (11) have combined to draw 54 starting assignments.
"Our offensive line is talented," says Ross, "and if we get those injured players back healthy this fall, I think we can have a very deep unit. Glover and Wojcik are real solid at left tackle and left guard, and I was very pleased with the development of Justin Troy at center. If Holly and Dytrych return at full strength, there will be excellent competition at the right guard position. Seth Nieman has dropped some weight and gained mobility as a result. I was very pleased with him as well."
Ross also cited sophomores Nathan Collier (6-6, 294), Jonathan Connon (6-6, 313) and Sean Whaley (6-3, 253) at tackle, along with senior Regan Tatford (6-4, 285) and sophomores Scott Harris (6-4, 275), Miles Murray (6-2, 260) and Greg Arrowsmith (6-1, 265) at guard as having put forth productive spring efforts. That group will be responsible for providing Army's depth up front.