Meet the New Mids: Offensive Line

GoMids.com continues its review of this year's incoming freshman class by position. Last year the Mids ranked fourth in the nation in team rushing at 312 yards per game. The Naval Academy Prep School has produced a number of offensive linemen the last few years. The Mids' offensive line is usually dominated by seniors but this season Navy has a number of underclassmen expected to start.

The 2011 Naval Academy Prep School produced one of the best offensive tackles in recent memory. GoMids.com will look at the incoming offensive linemen.

Joey Gaston was one of the best players last year at the Naval Academy Prep school. He is regarded by NAPS head coach J.P. Shevory as one of the best tackles he has coached since he's been at Newport. Gaston was an All-State offensive tackle as a senior at Knoxville Catholic where played tackle, defensive line and tight end during his high school career. Gaston is a 6-5, 250 pound offensive tackle who is very athletic. He moves well and has quick feet to position and sustain his blocks. Joey is very good at getting off the snap and cutting linebackers at the second level. He is tall but can bend his knees and is explosive through his hips. He demonstrated surprising strength for his size since he looks rather lean even for a triple option tackle. He has the frame to add more muscle. Gaston could compete for a starting spot by next year. He chose Navy over offers from Kansas, Tulane and Buffalo.

Greg Eason started at tackle and guard last fall at the Naval Academy Prep School. Eason is a 6-2, 300 pound lineman from Mays high school in Atlanta, Georgia. He was named to the AP first team All-Atlanta area offensive line as a center after his senior year. Last year Greg transformed his body in the weight room from a girthy 318 pounds he was after he reported last summer to a leaner 300 he weighed on I-day. Eason, who can bench press over 330 pounds, is an average athlete but has good functional football strength. He is a hard worker and improved as last season progressed. While he played a lot at tackle, I think his future position is likely inside at guard or maybe even a move back to center.

Blaze Ryder (6-0, 265) was the center last year at NAPS. Blaze is the younger brother of Mid junior defensive back Wave Ryder. Ryder, like his brother, played his high school football at Kamehameha high school in Hawaii. Ryder played both center and right tackle. He was a very productive player earning First Team All-State honors in 2009 and 2010. Blaze also excelled at summer camps earning a number of linemen awards. Ryder was one of NAPS' better offensive linemen last year until he injured his shoulders causing him to miss the final two games of the season. He needed surgery and wasn't able to participate in the off season conditioning program. Ryder did a nice job with the offensive line calls. He is a short, stocky linemen with surprising quickness. He can deliver a pop off the line. Ryder has a non-stop motor, is tough and very physical. Navy was his only FBS offer probably because of his height.

Zach Laniewski (6-2, 275) played mostly guard last season at the Naval Academy Prep School. Last fall was Laniewski's first time playing on the offensive line. At Lemon Bay high school in Florida he played nose tackle, tight end and was an oversized 260 pound fullback. He was converted to offensive line at NAPS and played at guard and some tackle. Against Bryant he helped NAPS backfield produce 380 rushing yards. Laniewski is an above average athlete but is rather raw right now. Zach was a top wrestler in high school. He understands leverage and has good balance. Laniewski improved as the season progressed. He moves well and has good strength but because of his inexperienced as an offensive lineman he'll need to improve his technique. Laniewski needs to watch his pad level and become more consistent with his hand position. He'll initially need some reps on the JV team but has the physical tools to develop into a good lineman.

The Mids have five direct admits on the offensive line which is a lot for the position. Ikechukwu "E.K." Binns is a 6-3, 287 pound two way line recruit from Cape Coral, Florida. Binns was viewed as a defensive tackle by most schools but Navy plans to put his athleticism to use on the offensive line. Binns, who is a good athlete, played varsity football and track all four years. He is strong, quick off the ball and has fine movement skills.

Blake Benjamin (6-3, 250) is an All-Southern league selection from Diamond Ranch, California. Blake was Diamond Ranch's team captain as a senior. Benjamin played both ways as an offensive tackle and a defensive lineman. Benjamin is a smart and aware player with decent quickness. He needs to spend time in the weight room to get bigger and stronger.

Brandon Greene was originally an Air Force commit who changed his mind late in the recruiting process. Greene is a 6-3, 268 pound center from Redlands East Valley High school in California. Greene was a three year starter on varsity and can also long snap. He was an All-League performer on a Redlands East Valley team that were conference champions. Greene is the prototypical Navy lineman in terms of athleticism. He played football, basketball and was an excellent track and field athlete in the shot put and discus. Greene tested very well at the junior combines running a 5.15 forty yard dash and having a vertical leap of 30.5. Greene is very quick off the ball into his blocks. He has good change of direction and foot agility. He can get to the second level and did a nice job on cut-off-blocks. Green has good strength and uses his hands well. He chose Navy over offers from Air Force, Army and UNLV.

Bradford Mills is another athletic direct admit offensive lineman. Mills was an offensive tackle at perennial Florida high school powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale. He is a good athlete, mobile and is fundamentally sound. He played both tackle and center in high school. Mills stands 6-3 and weighs 245 pounds. He runs well for a tackle and recorded a 5.3 forty yard dash time at a combine. Bradford Mills is tough and aggressive and was a vocal team leader. He was a very good wrestler in high school. He is a big effort player who works hard every play.

Ben Tamburello III from at the Spain Park high school in Alabama was another offensive linemen to commit after signing day. Tamburello (6-2, 275) had actually signed a Samford letter of intent on signing day to stay close to home and play locally. Navy had contacted him just the day before with an offer to visit. After a trip to Annapolis and receiving an appointment Ben asked Samford head coach Pat Sullivan, a family friend, to release him from his National Letter of Intent. Sullivan, a former Heisman Trophy winner who had coached his father, released Ben.

Tamburello's family has a military background with both his grandfathers and a great grandfather serving in the Navy. Tamburello was a Birmingham News All-Metro selection and a played in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game. He is strong, physical and quick off the ball. Tamburello was a three star recruit who, besides Samford, had offers from Southern Miss, Tulane, UAB, Arkansas State, Florida International, Western Kentucky, Troy and South Alabama. Tamburello father, Ben Jr., was a two time All-American at Auburn and a member of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. Ben Jr. played five seasons in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Next: Meet the Mids defensive linemen.

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