Position Probe: Offensive Guard

An in-depth take, position by position, as the Illini transition from spring drills to summer workouts.

Just like at left tackle, offensive guard appears to be two spots that shouldn't cause much concern in 2014.

Ted Karras (fourth-year junior) and Michael Heitz (fifth-year senior) bring obvious experience and should be peaking, in terms of physicality and overall ability. Karras, especially, could be in line for a stellar season and in the mix for Big Ten postseason honors.

Teddy isn't a rah-rah guy, but his vocal leadership took more than a few steps forward this offseason. His style is direct and to the point. He says what needs to be done and has begun to hold the rest of his offensive counterparts accountable. His progression as a leader and overall nasty streak from snap to whistle creates the ideal standard for Illini offensive linemen to mimic.

As far as depth goes, center Alex Hill is to the guard position what Heitz is at tackle. Depending on what's needed and what's moved around, Hill could man a guard position if needed. Heitz could find himself at tackle, so Hill's versatility helps if that situation arises.

Beyond Hill, the staff is searching for twos and threes that can step up and get ready to contribute. Juniors Chris Boles and Chris O'Connor are two players that need strong seasons, whether they see the field much or not. Remember, Hill and Heitz will be gone in 2015. There will be a spot for the taking opposite of Karras.

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