J.T Boyd and Christian Matau are poised to anchor the offensive line for the upcoming season. Scottie Montgomery and the new offensive scheme may provide different challenges for the offensive line, which may include running the ball more frequently. The o-line also faces the challenge of keeping new starting quarterback, Phillip Nelson upright.
Boyd was included in a couple preseason watch lists and has been named a first-team All-American Athletic Conference selection by Athlon Sports, Phil Steele Magazine and Sporting News. Because of injuries last season, Boyd was moved around a bit. The senior started one game at center and started the rest of the games at right guard. He started in all 12 games and stayed permanently at right guard as Matau and C.J Struyk.
Struyk was a senior last season and that leaves Matau as the leading candidate to start at center. Matau has battled injuries his entire collegiate career, sitting out 2013 and 2014 seasons entirely. The junior center started five games last season until he was sidelined the rest of the season with a forearm injury.
While Boyd and Matau will anchor the interior of the offensive line, the Pirates will turn to new faces to possibly take over the tackle spots. Brandon Smith made his first start week two of last season and remained the starter for the rest of the season. Smith will be competing with a batch of new offensive tackles.
On signing day ECU acquired four offensive tackles. Jarred Dorton attended Bakersfield College last season and was a top target for East Carolina for the 2016 recruiting class. Dorton brings some size to the line as he is 6-foot-7 and 320 pounds. The Pirates also acquired previous Cincinnati commit Sean Bailey. Bailey also will help the Pirates become bigger up front, measuring at 6-foot-6 and 315 pounds.