On Monday, we looked at some aspects of the 2007 Roster. We continue to delve deeper into the roster, with a focus on the offensive line, a unit that is in a bit of flux as we head into the 2007 season, but a unit that will be together this year and next, as there are no seniors in the two deep roster.
First, let's list the names of the players we expect to be in the mix once fall camp opens in three weeks:
51 Tyler Blum 6-6/285 SO 2nd team LT after spring
52 Rafael Eubanks 6-3/285 SO 1st team C after spring
55 Nyere Aumaitre 6-5/295 JR Not listed on depth chart
58 Rob Bruggeman 6-3/287 JR Injured
60 Kyle Calloway 6-7/305 SO 1st team RT after spring
61 Travis Meade 6-2/285 SO 2nd team C after spring
63 Julian Vandervelde 6-3/295 RS FR 2nd team RG after spring
68 Andy Kuempel 6-7/295 SO 2nd team LT after spring
71 Seth Olsen 6-5/305 JR 1st team RG after spring
75 Wesley Aeschliman 6-8/318 JR co-2nd team RT after spring
76 Alex Kanellis 6-4/295 JR co-2nd team RT after spring
78 Dace Richardson 6-6/305 JR 1st team LT after spring
79 Bryan Bulaga 6-6/290 FR true freshman
Again, you can see that each of the players will have at least two more years of eligibility, for this season and again in 2008. It's doubtful that Rob Bruggeman will play this year, as he blew out a knee during spring drills. That was a big blow, because he was probably one of the top three linemen on the team, and certainly one of the top two interior linemen, based on late fall practice reports, bowl prep reports, off season workouts and the spring work that he did get in.
As we mentioned yesterday, don't rule out
Bryan Bulaga into the mix this year.
I have said this before and will always say it; the only way that a true
freshman offensive lineman sees the field is if there are serious injuries (as
we saw in 2003 with Mike Jones burning his redshirt late in the year at Ohio
State) or if the player is a freak of nature and has the physical and mental
makeup to handle the position. It's
either a really good or really bad scenario, there is rarely a gray area. Or at least, the gray area isn't one
that you want to be in, because that means your program is in some state of
As for this year's line, three players appear to be ‘locks' to start; Dace Richardson at left tackle, Rafael Eubanks at center and Seth Olsen at guard. All three of these players were listed as starters after spring practice, in addition to Kyle Calloway at right tackle. The official 2007 depth chart did not list a starting left guard. That leaves one starting position ‘open', especially with Bruggeman on the shelf. Had he been healthy, he would have been penciled in at one of the guard positions.
But in reality, there are probably at least
two starting slots open, with Calloway not having exactly slammed the door
shut. It also looks like
Travis Meade got his beak wet last year and
he will challenge for one of the guard positions. It's a very, very important fall for
Andy Kuempal needs to make a move this year as well to solidify his position in the pecking order going forward, as one can reasonably expect Bruggeman to be back next year and in the mix. Wesley Aechilman is a name to watch, as he got some time last year. Alex Kanellis' development as he makes the move from defensive line to offensive line is going to be a big time factor this year. If he can make the move and play right tackle, that adds obvious depth to the equation.
Right now, it's not exactly settling to find
seven or eight players that you feel real, real solid about heading into the
season. That's a number that
That's one of the most anticipated questions for me each and every July; what offensive linemen made the big strides?
I spoke to Iowa Strength and Conditioning Coordinator Chris Doyle back in late May, and asked him if players and really make big strides between the end of spring and the start of fall practice. Here is what he said:
"We have seen guys make significant improvements in the
summer. Often, it's dictated by the intensity and the commitment level of
the athlete. There have been guys like
Several ‘question marks' are going to be answered, one way or another, by players that are entering their third year on campus. There has been enough time to ‘get committed', to put it into a Doyle parlance.
We'll know the answers in about six or seven weeks. As always, the waiting is the hardest part.