From the very beginning of last year, Florida State's offensive line was behind the power curve. The Noles had to replace three very good starters including, All-American left tackle Alex Barron, who was drafted in the 1st round by the St. Louis Rams. Ray Willis, a Seattle Seahawks, 4th round draft pick was a three-year starter for the Noles. Bobby Meeks was a two year starter along the Seminole line. Between the three, there was over eight years of starting experience.
In the spring Coach McHale had another set back with several injuries to players that were expected to start. All three centers in David Castillo, John Frady and Dumaka Atkins missed most of spring. Frady and Atkins both had shoulder injuries.
"Frady is doing well after his second shoulder surgery," Coach Mark McHale said. "He's doing some agility drills during mats. He's also doing reps of 225 pound which is very good at this stage. I don't think his shoulder was strong enough last year and that's why his shoulder injury reoccurred. John probably won't go through contact this spring though."
Atkins is completely healthy now and according to McHale he will compete for the starting center spot.
"The job is open and Dumaka will compete for the job," McHale said.
Lately, the bad news at offensive line doesn't seem to stop. In January Cornelius Lewis, who was most likely going to be the starting right guard, was dismissed from the team. Now the starting right guard is wide open.
"We'll start out this spring with Geoff Berniard at right guard but in the fall Matt Hardrick and Cory Niblock will most likely battle for the spot. Hardick will also battle Jacky Claude for the right spot. The best two out of the three will start."
This spring the Noles will start out with Mario Henderson at left tackle and David Overmyer at right tackle. However, JUCO All-American Shannon Boatman will be in the mix at both tackle spots.
"Once again, the best two out of the three will start," McHale said. "In fact, the best five players will start in the fall. "Mario started to really come on at the end. In the ACC Championship game, he shut down All-American Darryl Tapp. Against Penn State he only went against (Tamba) Hali for four or five times. Overmyer went against him the rest of the time. In practice, we noticed that Mario's mechanics were better on the left side. His footwork was much better. Mario's probably doing the best of the entire lineman in mat drills. He's much better than last year."
LT Mario Henderson
McHale also saw improvement in his right tackle.
"Overmyer had his best two games at the end of the season," McHale said. "He had trouble in the Clemson and North Carolina State game with the bull rush. His technique has been fine but he's been overpowered by the bull rush. The only way to overcome that is to get stronger."
The former Marshall offensive coordinator feels that freshman Daron Rose could contribute in the fall.
"We'll start Daron out at left tackle behind Mario," he said. "We got to find out if he can help us right away. If he can't, there's a chance Daron will redshirt. We'll talk it over with his family. The plan is to start him out at left tackle but we will play him where he can help us out that includes both tackle and guard spots. Like I said earlier, we'll play the five best players."
What does McHale like about Rose?
"Daron is well coached," he said. "His head coach, (Mike) Simmonds, played in the NFL as an offensive lineman which helps a lot. Daron already knows how to zone-block. He's got great technique and he's for sure got a head start on most freshmen."
McHale Previews the OL
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