Gopher Football Preview: Offensive Tackles

Is the 2010 season a make or break year for offensive line coach Tim Davis? An offensive tackle himself at Utah in the early 80's, Davis came into to Minneapolis promising to implement head coach Tim Brewster's new motto 'pound the rock'. Yet the Gophers struggled to run the ball and protect the passer in 2009.

Projected Starters: Minnesota returns both offensive tackle starters. The slated starters coming into fall practice are 6-foot-7, 365-pound Jeff Wills on the right and 6-foot-3, 336-pound Dominic Alford on the blindside. Wills started every game in 2009 and Alford started nine games (Air Force, California, Purdue, Ohio State, Michigan State, Illinois, South Dakota State, Iowa and Iowa State). By all accounts those two will be sitting atop the depth chart opening day in Murfreesboro, TN. However, as typical of a Tim Brewster coached team, being a starter does not necessarily mean the most playing time. How much the two bookends play depends largely on Alford's ability to keep his ankle healthy and Wills' off season work ethic.

Projected Top Reserves: The starters will have some hungry young road graders pushing them for playing time. Both 6-foot-7, 295-pound Brooks Michel and 6-foot-7, 288-pound Ed Olson should see plenty of playing time as redshirt freshmen and could possibly take the number one slot in the two-deeps by season's end. Olson will most likely be backing up Wills on the right with Michel the number two on the left side. Also don't forget about 6-foot-5, 296-pound Ryan Wynn who missed last season with a back injury but started all 13 games as a freshman in 2008. If fully recovered, his experience could prove invaluable in the development of the Gopher offensive line.

Incoming Freshmen: Minnesota is welcoming a bevy of linemen this summer. The jewel being 6-foot-7, 300-pound tackle Jimmy Gjere out of New Brighton. The four star recruit honed his footwork on the ice as an assistant captain for the 2008-09 Irondale/St. Anthony Knights hockey team. Another big nasty from Opa Loka, FL is 6-foot-7, 342-pound lineman Jonathan Ragoo. Both linemen are versatile and could end up playing offensive guard in college, but time will tell where the depth emerges in the young Gopher line.

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