CN Spring Cleaning: Guards & Centers

The fifth in a series of football position progress reports on CycloneNation.com features the offensive guards and centers, where first-year line coach Barney Cotton did some shuffling over the spring.

Pre-Fall Depth Chart:

LG Kory Pence, 6-4, 310, JR - OR –
Trent Claussen, 6-4, 300, R-SO
Tom Schmeling, 6-3, 295, FR

C Luke Vander Sanden, 6-2, 300, R-SR
Brian Lutter, 6-0, 270, R-SR
Anthony Walker, 6-2, 270, R-FR

RG Seth Zehr, 6-5, 290, R-SO
Johannes Egbers, 6-3, 290, R-JR
Bastian Schober, 6-2, 305, R-FR

Newcomers:

Jordan Goos, 6-6, 290, FR, Treynor HS
Brandon Johnson, 6-3, 285, FR, Rushville (Neb.) HS
Landon Streit, 6-5, 330, FR, Manson-Northwest Webster HS

Spring evaluation:

With Zehr and Vander Sanden all but guaranteed starting roles heading into fall practice, the biggest story of the spring was the fight to fill one of the first-team guard slots. Schober and Egbers began workouts in a dead heat, only to see themselves unseated by the resurgent Pence and determined Claussen.

In order to accommodate Pence and Claussen, two linemen who performed better on the left side, coaches shuffled Vander Sanden and Zehr to enable the move. Zehr had opened practice as the starting center, but flip-flopped with Vander Sanden who was at left guard.

In making the moves, first-year line coach Barney Cotton was able to get his best options on the field at guard and center. Vander Sanden's experience playing all three interior line position gave Cotton some options, as did Zehr's brief play last season at guard. Cotton also moved Walker to left guard, and inserted Schmeling at his old position of center.

After all was said and done, Egbers and Schober settled in at right guard behind first-teamer Zehr. Nonetheless, Cotton can feel like he will have more options along the interior line when fall training camp opens.

Fall outlook:

With no immediate help in the way in the form of JUCO transfers, or freshmen phenoms like Brant from a season ago, the Cyclones already know what they'll have in the mix come fall. Look for Pence to hold to emerge as the starting left guard and join a starting lineup that includes Cale Stubbe, Brant, Vander Sanden and Zehr.

ISU coaches must also hope that Vander Sanden can break loose of his injury-filled past. The fifth-year center has suffered two broken legs during his career in Ames, and was even held out of the spring game this season when coaches feared he had mononucleosis.

While Vander Sanden hopes to stay healthy, Zehr will be looking to add another five to 10 pounds before the season begins. After coming in as a recruited 255-pound offensive lineman, the Fort Dodge native is now approaching 300 pounds, but still has room for more on his 6-foot-5 frame.


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