Grading the Offensive Line
Josh Newberg- Coming into spring practice, the offensive line was the weakest unit on the team. Four weeks and several injuries later, it is still the weakest unit on the team. The injuries prevented the line from gaining any consistency because players were being moved from their natural positions to fill in at other spots. For example, John Frady was looking great at guard but when Castillo went down Frady was forced to play center. Beside the fact he prefers guard; he is also undersized for a center. Frady weighs 275, where as Castillo weighs 301.
However, there were some positives that came out of spring also. The injuries gave a lot of the younger guys an opportunity to show their talent. Cornelius Lewis was one of the freshmen that is playing for a starting job. He had a great spring and was awarded the top offensive newcomer. David Overmeyer and Jacky Claude also had breakout performances this spring. This group will be an upgrade from last year but they need to stay healthy. Since they are young, summer practices will be a crucial time to improve individually and as a unit. If the injury bug continues to bite our line, then the incoming 6-foot-5 and 342 pound freshman Matt Hardrick will immediately be thrown into the starting lineup. Otherwise, he will provide much needed depth on the second team.
Grade C- If I was to grade purely on performance and not take into account injuries, I would give them an F, but I don't think that is a fair assessment. For the most part they were inconsistent and the protection was pretty bad, but they had flashes of hope.
Dave Peters-This is one most beat up looking offensive lines that Florida State has ever seen. On top of injuries, the line had to deal with a new coach, his philosophy change and going up against one of the top defensive fronts in the country. However, there were some bright spots and I saw improvement.
Senior center David Castillo was once again lost early and there are questions if he will ever be able to contribute at all this fall. If he does, it will be a huge bonus because he's very smart and he's also a very vocal leader which the line will need desperately.
John Frady was training at both left guard and center but he was also lost mid way through spring with a dislocated shoulder which he recently had surgery on. According to the former Jacksonville Bolles standout, his recovering time will be from six to eight weeks. With Castillo being a huge question mark, expect Frady to start most of season at center. Before his injury, the redshirt sophomore was doing an excellent job of picking up offensive line coach Mark McHale's zone blocking scheme.
Redshirt Freshman Dumaka Atkins isn't quite ready to contribute yet. He had off-season shoulder surgery and he missed most of spring practice by reinjuring. I expect to see very little of him next year except during mop up time.
True Sophomore Jacky Claude will start the fall out as the starting left guard. Coach McHale told The Territory that he's most improved lineman of the spring. Not only does the 6-foot-3 and 300 pound former Miami Edison standout have size, he has quickness, strength and nastiness to be a top player. Florida State coaches feel like he will be NFL bound before it's all said and done.
Redshirt freshman Cornelius Lewis is also a lineman that improved a lot this spring according to Coach McHale. The former Jacksonville Raines standout is probably the strongest of the bunch. Look for him to back up Matt Meinrod at right guard this fall.
Redshirt Sophomore David Overmyer started out slow but picked things up quickly. By the end of spring, he was the best tackle on the team and that's why he was moved from right tackle to left tackle. This spring, he led the offensive line in conditioning drills and I expect him to get much better as long as he works hard in the weight room over the summer.
Starting right tackle Mario Henderson struggled this spring and he needs to work hard in the off-season, especially with his quickness. If he doesn't step up, he could lose his job this fall.
Redshirt freshman Geoff Berniard made some strides this spring but he will need to work on his weight and quickness in the off-season.
Senior Ron Lunford struggled a lot in the spring and he will have to lose a lot of weight in order to contribute for the upcoming season.
Redshirt Freshman Courtney Abbott was limited this spring and I'm not sure if he'll ever have an impact due to his diabetes.
True Freshman Matt Hardrick is expected to arrive in Tallahassee sometime this summer. If he shows up in shape and works hard to learn the new system, there's a chance he could crack the two deep at tackle. The 6-foot-5 and 342 pound four-star standout is extremely quick for his size and he also is very aggressive and strong.
Grade- C With the youth and lack of experience, the line did extremely well, especially at run blocking. With a healthy line this fall, I expect to see more improvement.
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