Position Preview: OL

Many people think the quarterback is the most important position on a football team. In most instances that is true, but the players that generally go unnoticed are the ones that protect the valuable quarterback.

However, this year, that won't be the case at the University of Miami as the offensive line has a chore that it has never had before; the job of protecting a young inexperienced quarterback that is expected to lead the Hurricanes to the National Championship.

Last year's offensive line struggled with injuries and the inability at times to protect Brock Berlin, but the struggles seemed to begin when All-American tackle Eric Winston went down in the Georgia Tech game with mangled knee that saw him tear every ligament in his knee ending his season much earlier than the anticipated first round draft choice could have ever expected.

But Winston is back and for that reason alone, this year's group might have the tools necessary to do what it needs to do in order to protect Wright and help him have a breakout season, one the 'Canes so dearly need.

On top of protecting Wright, it will be up to the line to pave some holes for running backs Tyrone Moss and company.

The expected starting line will include the 6-foot-7, 315-pound Winston who will be protecting Wright's backside at left tackle.

To the right of Winston at left guard will Tony Tella who struggled with injuries last year as well.

The 6-foot-4, 310-pounder will form a big time wall on the left side for Wright.

At center will more than likely be Anthony Wollschlager who replaces the graduated Joel Rodriguez.

At 6-foot-6, 300 pounds, Wollschlager will be the tallest center the 'Canes have ever had in recent memory, but he is young an inexperienced so the fall practice will be very important for him.

His long arms should make him very good and give him the ability to get good separation between he and defensive tackles and nose guards.

On the right is the mammoth Tyler McMeans as he'll line up at right guard. McMeans who stands an imposing 6-foot-5, 330 pounds suffered through injuries last year as well as did most of the offensive line, but he'll be back to smash some defensive linemen.

At right tackle, Rashad Butler will get the nod as the starting, but his performance will be key.

What makes this group different from last year is that it has legitimate depth this year. With all the injuries the group suffered, young players like Derrick Morse, Andrew Bain and Cyrim Wimbs got playing time.

They will be key contributors this year as well with Morse being the top reserve, although he could easily supplant just about anyone on the line except for Winston if his performance is warranting of a starting position on the line.

But unlike previous years, when a player like quarterback Ken Dorsey was the most important player on the field, this group of linemen will be the most important players on this team because protection equals time for Wright. Time for Wright equals completed passes. Completed passes equals touchdowns.

And touchdowns equal wins.

And it starts up front this year more than any in recent history.

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