Sheppard and Cano played against each other over in East Texas. They will make the short trip down I-20 to help strengthen a unit that struggled at times in 2008. Sheppard is a big 300 pounder that can play any position on the line. His Coach at Marshall, former Bulldog Thedrick Harris, saidd Sheppard dominated everyone he went up against. Cano is 6'2" 280 and looks like a power lifter. He has the quickness to help big time in the run game.
Justin Ellis, a massive 340 pound guard from Neville HS in Monroe, is talented enough and big enough to start from day one. The problem with Ellis is that he has the potential to be a All-WAC Nose Guard on defense. That's a good problem to have. Ellis and Mills could form a right side that anyone could run behind on offense. Defensive Line Coach Jimmy Brumbaugh really likes Ellis on the defensive line. Either way, Louisiana tech has a steal in Ellis.
One player who will play defensive line is junior college transfer John White. The Oklahoma native had offers from Boise State and Utah, but he chose Tech and will provide instant help for tackles D'Anthony Smith and Mason Hitt. White had several sacks in 2008 and is a high energy player. He will help with the pass rush tremendously from the inside.
Another junior college transfer, Jacob Miller from Kansas, will help out on the offensive side of the ball. With six experienced offensive linemen returning, Miller will add depth and he could even start. He is expected to push senior Ben Harris and Sophomore Kris Caviitt for starting spots at guard. Mills will have even more competition at tackle. Cudahy Harmon and Rob McGill both return and Jared Miles, a two year starter at guard, could move out to tackle with the emergence of Cavitt.
While the unit lacked depth in 2008, offensive line will be a deep position in 2009. Four players from the 2008 class, Stephen Warner, Josh Parrish, Kevin Saia, and Michael Lacy are all ready to claim their place on the depth chart. Warner will compete with Matt Sheppard for the backup center position behind Lon Roberts. Offensive Line Coach Petey Perot is back after missing 2008 and he will have his unit in fine form. Perot recruited Sheppard, Cano, and Mills himself, so he made sure he added to the talent he had to work with. Offensive line will be a strength of the team in 2009 and for the forseeable future. Matt Sheppard