With an expected starting group of all redshirt juniors or seniors, this offensive line should be among the best in head coach Jerry Kill's career. With key interior lineman Jon Christenson still recovering after having a rod removed from his leg this spring, the center and left guard spots really remain the only spots with some question marks. Tackles Jonah Pirsig and Ben Lauer each started at tackle last season and their development alone is a huge reason why Josh Campion slid into right guard this spring after starting the first 39 games of his career at tackle.
Campion is the leader of this veteran offensive line group, but within all this experience, results in a lot of youth behind them. True sophomore Connor Mayes and true freshman Tyler Moore are two guys expect to among the two deeps this fall with Mayes playing in right guard last fall. Moore being an early enrollee from the 2015, participated in spring ball and really set the tone as a future enforcer along the offensive line which is something this unit needs with the departure of Zac Epping.
Spring surprise: Tyler Moore
Not much is expect of a freshman offensive lineman in college football these days, but Tyler Moore sure knows how to make a first impression. The Texas native really was a tone setter throughout the spring along the offensive line and wasn't afraid to get into it with anyone. His tenacity and mindset are exactly what this group need with the loss of Zac Epping.
Moore drew praise more than a few times from offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Matt Limegrover this spring about his abilities and how he has a chance to be a special player before his time is over in Minnesota. While Moore may just be a back up this fall, heading into 2016 with the Gophers losing all of their interior starters, Moore has a chance to make a Texas size impact in the very near future.
Question that still needs answering: What will happen at left guard?
Minnesota will be a large shoes to fill with the graduation of Zac Epping at the left guard position as the Kenosha native started the last two seasons there for the Gophers. What the Gophers are really hoping for is that the left guard position doesn't turn into the murky position that was right guard last fall.
The prime candidates to make sure that doesn't happen are seniors Joe Bjorklund and Jon Christenson. Bjorklund was the starter there during spring ball so he has some experience there. The real wild card is Christenson and to see how things shake out after fall camp. The staff is really counting on a full recovery from the Minnetonka product and if and when that happens, does Christenson take over at center or left guard? Brian Bobek more than held his own this spring which makes it appear like Christenson will be battling things out at LG.
What does the future hold on the offensive line?
Minnesota has five seniors in line to graduate this upcoming season, but there is enough younger depth behind them for the Gophers to feel good about the offensive line for the next several years to come. With Connor Mayes and Tyler Moore holding down the interior, tackles Luke Rasmussen and Alex Mayes will have their chance to prove themselves as well.
Even more young talent will join the mix this fall, too, with incoming freshmen Ted Stieber, Bronson Dovich, Quinn Oseland and Nick Connelly all adding to what is quickly becoming another pipeline for Minnesota. Add in four 2016 commits and Gophers fans should have not a lot to worry about going forward.
Projected depth chart:
1 - Ben Lauer (6-7, 317), RJr.
2 - Foster Bush (6-5, 306), RSr.
Quinn Oseland (6-6, 291), Fr.
Alex Mayes (6-6, 310), RSo.
1 - Jon Christenson (6-4, 300), RSr.
Joe Bjorklund (6-5, 300), RSr.
2 - Isaac Hayes (6-2, 316), RJr.
1 - Brian Bobek (6-2, 289), RSr.
Jon Christenson (6-4, 296), RSr.
2 - Connor Mayes (6-5, 328), So.
1 - Josh Campion (6-5, 307), RSr.
2 - Tyler Moore (6-4, 306), Fr.
Connor Mayes (6-5, 328), So.
1 - Jonah Pirsig (6-9, 316), RJr.
2 - Foster Bush (6-5, 306), RSr.
Fall Camp Primer: Offensive Line
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