Spring Recap: OL

The young offensive line went through growing pains this spring, but with a new coach and enthusiasm, the unit improved each week of practice.

First Team

LT: Reggie Youngblood; 6-foot-5, 307 pounds
LG: Andrew Bain; 6-foot-3, 317 pounds
C: Anthony Wollschlager; 6-foot-4, 285 pounds
RG: Derrick Morse; 6-foot-4, 325 pounds
RT: Tyrone Byrd; 6-foot-5, 295 pounds

Second Team

LT: Chris Rutledge; 6-foot-5, 311 pounds
LG: AJ Trump; 6-foot-3, 305 pounds
C: Alex Pou; 6-foot-4, 288 pounds
RG: Matt Pipho; 6-foot-7, 295 pounds
RT: Cyrim Wimbs; 6-foot-3, 328 pounds

Tackle: Chris Barney; 6-foot-5, 340 pounds
Center: Jonathan St. Pierre; 6-foot-3, 310 pounds

The success of the offense will undoubtedly ride on the effectiveness of the offensive line. The line will have to replace four starters from last season's underachieving offensive line.

With new offensive line coach Mario Cristobal, the unit appears to be playing with a refreshed enthusiasm and sense of confidence. Cristobal has impressed the players with his teaching techniques and excitement.

"Coach Cristobal is a lot more detailed and he works with players so much better," senior Alex Pou said. "He helps us understand a lot more and players are getting things quicker. He is an intense guy and he is serious. He knows when to get on us, but he also knows when to back off us a little bit. He knows we will be affected by how he approaches us in practice."

At left tackle, sophomore Reggie Youngblood has seemingly lived up to the hype that accompanied him out of high school. Head Coach Larry Coker continually praised Youngblood throughout the spring—going so far as to say he is not concerned about the left tackle position for next season.

"He is going to be as good as advertised," Coker said of Youngblood. "He is going to be a good player for us and he has to be. Youngblood is a difference-maker type player."

Probably the area of most concern for UM along the offensive line is at right tackle, where the talented, but inexperienced Tyrone Byrd is learning the position. Though Byrd has the physical tools and potential to be a great tackle, he needs to get stronger this summer and work on his technique and footwork.

"I think Tyrone has a lot of work to do," Coker said. "He continues to get better, but he just needs to get his confidence level up and get a lot of work."

The interior positions of the offensive line seem to be the strength of the unit. Left guard Andrew Bain has impressed Coker with his improvement this spring and aggressive right guard Derrick Morse is back up to his playing weight at 325 pounds.

Center Anthony Wollschlager is the only returning starter along the offensive line and has assumed a leadership role on offense. Defensive linemen and coaches constantly praised Wollschlager's play this spring.

After playing center last season at about 270-280 pounds, Wollschlager is finally healthy this offseason to undergo all of the summer workouts. He would like to gain 10-15 pounds by the beginning of next season.

On the second unit, senior center Alex Pou impressed the coaching staff with his motor and athleticism, while redshirt freshman AJ Trump was singled out as being a player that has all the physical tools who just has to work on the mental aspects of the game.

Tackles Chris Rutledge and Cyrim Wimbs are still learning their position while going up against the best second team defensive line in the country. Rutledge expects to get the cast on his right hand—a cast he played with the entire spring—off in the weeks following the spring football season.

David Lake can be reached at lake@canestime.com

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