Offensive Line Expected Healthy for Fall

Knock on wood. The Gator offensive line that was ultra thin at the start of last season looks to be healthy as the fall rolls around. That health and some numbers will likely afford the staff to move away from floating players around much from position to position. The rule is to still get the best five on the field, but they can likely do that and still train a little more for specific positions.

Helping with the depth this year is Steve Addazio's group of talented freshmen that were signed in the class of 2009. This group more than the past, seems like that are more set in stone their exact position on the roster will be. Nick Alajajian, Jon Halapio, Jonotthan Harrison, Kyle Koehne, and Xavier Nixon have all come to school with a mind set to play early. Addazio hasn't seen much of them so he isn't able to assess them a great deal.

"They are great guys, smart guys,and hard working guys," Addazio said of the freshmen. "I feel good about the two guys that came in mid-semester and I think we have a class of guys that are really going to do well. I think Nick will be a tackle, Jon Harrison will be a guard, Koehne a center, Xavier will be anchored at tackle, and Halapio will definitely be a guard."

Last year's issues early in the season were many along the offensive line. Carl Johnson sat out the beginning of the year with an injury. James Wilson had an elbow issue and a foot issue. Maurice Hurt had issues with a neck that will always be watched over. Matt Patchan came in under weight and was moved to defense. The list goes on and made life difficult until some of the health issues resided.

Now it seems that the Gators are heading into fall practice in much better shape.

"(Wilson) hasn't had any problems with his feet and he is coming along and working and getting in shape," Addazio said. "Mo has really worked hard and is in shape. We have a real shot of entering into camp we are a healthy and in-shape football team. Part of this whole deal is being healthy. You take some hits at certain positions and you never know what will happen. Half the battle is staying healthy."

There is one guy that may be held out early on. Although he could play, Maurkice Pouncey will be allowed to heal his shoulder and in his place freshman Sam Robey may get the nod at center.

"Maurkice Pouncey has played a lot of football around here and so we need to look at some of these younger guys taking some snaps," Addazio said. "These first games are the only times to get them some early snaps. Obviously we have to get our timing and get ready to go, but we have to manage all of that."

Robey is just one example of the new depth and ability of this offensive line and the things that those two things will allow this staff to do. As mentioned above, one thing is to establish a depth chart and anchor players at specific positions. He knows that juniors Carl Johnson, Maurkice Pouncey, Mike Pouncey, and Marcus Gilbert have some flexibility, but young and talented guys trained is easier when they are training at one position.

"We are getting to the point where we are getting enough depth and we don't want to jerk around the new guys," Addazio said. "We want them to get started. I could move Carl, Marcus, Michael, and Maurkice. I could move them around."

Addazio went into the specifics of where his roster of linemen will play.

"You will see Gilbert at tackle, Carl playing guard and tackle, Mike and Maurkice and Sam Robey all playing center and guard. Corey Hobbs playing center and guard. Jim Barrie playing guard and tackle. Hurt is a guard. Byran Jones is a guard. Wilson is a guard. Patchan will be anchored as a tackle. Xavier is a tackle that won't move around. David Young is another guy I will probably jockey around. He is the one guy I am not totally solid yet. I am leaning toward probably moving him outside.

"The more numbers you have the better opportunity you have to (anchor) some guys up. As long as I have flexibility with Carl, Marcus, Michael and Maurkice. Those four guys are very interchangeable."

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