With every new season, it brings changes. With every new season…it is a new start. I am going to break down the offensive line heading into spring football practices this week. I am very excited for spring football as I am sure many Cyclone fans are. This will be a huge spring for Coach Mac and his squad, but a very exciting one may I add. There are new coaches, new players, new faces, and a new chemistry for Cyclone football 2006. I want to breakdown the offensive line, and share my thoughts as to where players fit into the coaching scheme.
This is the most important position on the team. A big time player needs to fill this as Egbers departed from last season. This was also a spot that wasn't solid a year ago. The quarterback needs to be protected from the blind side, especially with the speed of defensive and rush ends in the Big XII. Scott Fisher is the only player on the squad with experience at this position. Going into spring ball, it is his position to lose. There will be a lot of competition at this position. I know the coaches are expecting two incoming junior college players to step in and contribute in Ahtyba Rubin and Jose Vargas. For these two players to be productive coming into a new program, they will need to show intensity, discipline, work-ethic, and be able to change their play to the speed of division one football. If Fisher, Rubin, and Vargas can't get it done at left tackle, look for Aaron Brant to possibly take one for the team and switch sides from right tackle.
There are a lot of players who can step up and prove they can play winning football at the left guard spot if they want to after the departure of a captain, Cory Pence. It is disappointing that more of the younger guys haven't stepped up, but it is time for Brandon Cook to take this position over or Bastian Shober. These are two big, strong physical kids who have been in the program three years now. It is their calling to contribute to the program on game days. They don't have the greatest feet in terms of speed and footwork, but they just need to get the job done. I look for Rubin to be in the mix at this position too. The left guard position will be one up for battle. Look for the coaches to look at Paul Fisher, Reggie Stephens, and Brandon Johnson here as well. These are three players that have been in the system for at least a year now. All the candidates fighting for this position need to develop a win or go home attitude to conquer this position.
It is a great feeling when you
know you have Scott Stephenson back at center. This kid was a man child last year for
Seth Zehr returns to this position that he has had experience at and success for the past three seasons. Zehr is a big athletic kid with a will-to-win attitude. I played beside this kid for two seasons. He is a smart kid that will retain the right guard spot. I look for a huge year out of Zehr this coming season. I look for Brandon Johnson, Rubin, Paul Fisher, and Reggie Stephens to battle for the two-deep spot. As you can see with every position, there is going to be a lot of competition to get into the two-deep and help the Cyclones be productive in 06'. We could also see some snaps at center out of Zehr if needed.
A behemoth returns at right tackle in Aaron Brant. A man with the size and strength that every division one offensive lineman dreams of, I look for Aaron to have a breakout year. He will be a guy who has played since he was a true freshman. There are not many offensive linemen that can say this in the Big XII Conference. Aaron had a solid season a year ago, and must have a tremendous one this year in order to get the offensive line going. I look for Brant, Scott Stephenson, and Zehr to be leaders of this unit, and really carry the group to success this year. Look for Paul Fisher, Jon Tjaden, and Jose Vargas, as well as other to fight out the two-spot in spring ball.
VANDER SANDEN'S PREDICTIONS
LT LG C RG RT
Scott Fisher Brandon Cook Scott Stephenson Seth Zehr Aaron Brant
Jose Vargas Ahtyba Rubin Anthony Walker B. Johnson Jon Tjaden