There were many questions around the Bearcats offensive line when spring practice started on April 1. With the loss of a couple of seniors everyone knew jobs would be on the line and the younger guys needed to step up. So let’s look at “What We Know” for the Bearcats offensive line.
Overall the Bearcats have found six solid performers along the offensive line. While this number must reach eight by August it’s farther along than many felt it would be.
Led by Trevor Canfield and Khalil El-Amin the Bearcats have slimmed down and taken to the coaching and style of offensive line coach Jeff Quinn. Also stepping up and taking their place was Jason Kelce, Jeff Linkenbach, Chris Jurek and C.J. Cobb.
Two more need to step up their game and so far it looks as if Alex Hoffman, Sam Griffin and Craig Parmenter are the ones closest to being capable.
With this group we’ve noticed a much more physical line as compared to last season. This has shown true in the way the offense has been able to run the ball in scrimmages this spring and must continue next fall for the Bearcats to reach the level Brian Kelly desires.
As stated there are six guys that Jeff Quinn can call upon at this time. The bad part of this is no one has yet to step up at the center position. If Chris Jurek would go done Jason Kelce would have to move over from guard instead of a player coming off the sidelines. Because Cobb is showing he’s ready this is not as bad as it could be, but either Randy Martinez or Frank Becker must prove they have what it takes to only have to make one move. If this doesn’t happen look for incoming freshman Evan Davis to be given a shot as a true freshman as many feel he’ll be physically and mentally ready when he arrives in June.
Look for the Bearcats to go after up to five offensive linemen in the Class of 2009. Depth could be an issue if someone in the top six would go down. Several of the remaining linemen not mentioned in this story must pick up their game or risk being left behind as they’ve yet to reach a level making them ready to battle on the field on a fulltime basis.
Look for Evan Davis to be given a shot at being the back-up center spot when he arrives on campus this summer. Sean Hooey is coming back strong after a broken leg ended his senior year and will have his weight up as he continues to mature. Hooey is the type of player that should be given a year to build upon his long frame so he can become a dominate tackle at the college level.
The Bearcats staff has targeted several top offensive line prospects and many of them have visited during the spring to take a harder look. Keep in mind not every type of O-Lineman fits into the style of play used by the Bearcats and Brian Kelly and Jeff Quinn will be picky with who receives an offer.
What We Know
The Bearcats offensive line looks ready to take the next step needed to fight for a Big East title and possible BCS game. Injuries must stay at a minimum when the fall comes and the development of the young guys must continue to the point where those in the back-up roles must be able to give quality minutes when called upon. The future does look bright with the key members and continued recruiting for the type of players that fit the style of play is a must.