Navy Spring Depth Chart Review: O-Tackle

The Navy Midshipmen football team recently completed spring drills. GoMids.com will now review each Navy position to project a starter, a backup and a player to watch. Today we'll discuss the offensive tackle position.

OFFENSIVE TACKLES
Starters: LT Graham Vickers #70 Sr.; RT Bradyn Heap #62 Jr.
Backups: LT Joey Gaston #56 So.; RT Chris Nurthen #68 Jr.
Third String: LT Collin Watkins #66 Sr.; RT Matthew Van Halanger #79 Sr.

Graham Vickers (6-1, 280) is one of the most experienced players on the Navy offensive line. Vickers, who was held out of spring drills due to injury, has 15 starts during his Navy career. Despite missing spring drills the Navy coaching staff expects Vickers to start at the left tackle position during the 2013 season. Last season as a junior Vickers started all but one game. The California native is a versatile player who has played at center as well as guard during his Navy career. Vickers was named to the Scout.com All-Service Academy preseason team in 2012.

Bradyn Heap (6-3, 280) was listed as the starting right tackle following drills. Last season Heap started two games and played in ten games providing solid blocking for the Mids rushing game. However, Heap broke his leg in the Troy game and missed the remaining three contests. Heap also missed most of spring drills due to injury but is still is expected to be a start. Heap is another versatile player who could play center if needed. Jim Lawler commented on Heap.

"Heap is a smart, mobile lineman who runs very well," wrote Lawler. "He can get to the second level easily. He is a good, hard-nosed player and blocks well on the move."

Navy has struck recruiting gold several times in the state of Tennessee. Joey Gaston (photo at right), who won is won the backup left tackle position in the spring, is yet another solid player for that state. Gaston was one of the best players in the 2011 NAPS class. Lawler commented on Gaston.

"He moves well and has quick feet to position and sustain his blocks," said Lawler. "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."

Junior Chris Nurthen (6-3, 260) won the backup right tackle spot during the spring. Nurthen, whose brother (John) recently graduated from Navy, has been moved to several positions since arriving at the academy. He played linebacker at NAPS and then was moved to defensive end when he arrived at the academy. While improving his strength he has put on about 40 pounds since arriving at the academy and was eventually moved to the offensive line. The hard working Nurthen has progressively made his into the depth chart and should see game this season.

In the spring of 2012 Collin Watkins (6-3 252) won the backup right tackle position but will play the third string left tackle position due to the emergence of Gaston. Watkins has seen a fair amount of game action throughout his career and provides Navy with solid depth on the offensive line. Lawler commented on Watkins.

"Watkins is a.. tackle who can move and has good feet," wrote Lawler. "Watkins is tough and physical."

Senior Matthew Van Halanger (6-3, 259) saw action in the East Carolina and Central Michigan games last season and is slated to be the third string right tackle. The son of one of the leading strength and conditioning coaches, Van Halanger is solid fundamentally and should help bolster the depth of Navy's line.

If Vickers and Heap both can recover from their injuries and avoid new injuries, Navy should be solid at the offensive tackle position in 2013.

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