FNL Preview: Offensive Linemen

The Florida Gators have the luxury of returning four starters on the offensive line this year. But with two seniors and a junior, the Gators will be looking for more linemen from the class of 2008.

After the spring, the depth chart looked something like this, seniors Carlton Medder and Phil Trautwein at the tackle positions with senior center Drew Miller moving over from guard and junior Jim Tartt at left guard with redshirt freshmen Maurice Hurt at right guard.

The second unit has two true freshmen with the Pouncey Twins and two redshirt freshmen in Carl Johnson and Jim Barrie playing with junior Jason Watkins. The X-Factor in all of this will be the status of sophomore Ronnie Wilson.

The Gators brought in Maurkice and Mike Pouncey at the guard position last season, but the biggest surprise might have been the commitment of guard James Wilson from St. Augustine (Fla.). I am of the belief that no matter what your offensive line situation looks like you need three to four offensive linemen each recruiting class. If all of the offensive linemen that say they are coming show up to Friday Night Lights, it will be one heck of a show.

In no particular order they are:

  • Greg Shaw - Miami Monsignor Pace - 6-6/280
  • Matt Patchan - Seffner (Fla.) Armwood - 6-7/265
  • Ricky Barnum - Lakeland (Fla.) Lake Gibson - 6-4/260
  • Tyler Love - Mountain Brook (Ala.) Mt. Brook - 6-7/270
  • Art Forst - Manasquan (N.J.) Manasquan 6-8/305
  • Daniel Campbell - Houston Aldine - 6-5/320
  • B.J. Brand - Douglas (Ga.) Coffee County - 6-3/325

    My Take: The offensive line board seems to get smaller and smaller with each passing day. Graham Pocic (Illinois), Ben Habern (Oklahoma) Michael Brewster/J.B. Shugarts (Ohio State) and Daniel Campbell (Southern Cal) were all on the Gators' board. At the top of the board, it is no question that the staff is looking at Matt Patchan and Tyler Love. With Patchan's father playing for the 'Canes most people think that he ends up in Coral Gables. The Florida staff has been working Patchan very hard, and the Gators have a real good shot. It should come down to a UF/Miami battle for his services.

    Tyler Love has connections to the Gator program; his grandfather played for Florida and has recently passed away. In the end, I am not sure if Love leaves the state of Alabama but if he does, Florida has just as good a chance as anyone else does.

    The staff has put the full court press on Ricky Barnum as of late and he has Florida at the top of his list at this time. An offensive line class of Love, Patchan and Barnum would be stellar. Art Forst is another prototypical offensive tackle who does a great job using his long arms and leverage on the defensive linemen.

    Greg Shaw, I believe ends up in Louisville when all is said and done, but is on the schedule for Friday Night Lights and has told me on several occasions that the Gators are on his short list.

    B.J. Brand is your road-grader type of a guard. Brand has the Gators near the top of his list with Georgia. He has offers from all of his favorites in Georgia, Auburn, FSU, LSU, NCST and South Carolina. The only team that has not offered is the Gators. That could all change in a couple of weeks.

    Keep an Eye On: Antoine McClain from Anniston (Ala.) at 6-6 and 320-pounds. McClain, in my mind was the most impressive offensive linemen at the Scout.com top-150 combine a couple of weeks ago. He was supposed to ride down with linebacker Jerrell Harris, but I am not sure if he will make it in for Friday Night Lights. Kenneth Page from Columbia (S.C.) A C Flora High School is 6-4, 285-pounds and has told me a couple of times that he favors the Gators. Zebrie Sanders from Clayton (Ohio) Northmont favors the Gators at this time. Sanders is 6-6, 275-pounds. Another top offensive line prospect that the staff is high on is Vinston Painter from Norfolk (Va.) Maury. Painter is 6-5 and 310-pounds.

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