Navy 2013 Football Review: Offensive Line

Navy football spring practice begins on March 17. Before spring drills kick off GoMids.com will review the 2013 team, unit by unit. In this segment we look at the offensive line.

OFFENSIVE LINE
Navy finished second in the nation in rushing averaging 325.4 rushing yards per game. It was their best showing since leading the nation in 2007. Junior right guard Jake Zuzek has started 26 straight games and has emerged as Navy's best offensive lineman. The 310 pound Zuzek earned All-East honors and was named to USA Today's all Bowl team. The recognition was well deserved. Jake is incredibly powerful and strong. He can bench pressed over 500 pounds and can be overpowering as a one-on-one blocker.

Junior left tackle Bradlyn Heap also earned All-East honors. Heap is a very hard worker in the weight room and has bulked up to 288 pounds while maintaining his mobility. Heap had a rough moment on the last play against Notre Dame. Wide receiver Shawn Lynch was stopped on an end around play because Heap looked like he was doing the Curley Shuffle as he spun around and missed all three players he could have blocked. It's unfair that most offensive linemen are recognized only when they make a mistake. Heap didn't make many. He had an outstanding season.

Senior Thomas Stone started the opening three games at left guard. Stone played well the first two games before injuring his knee in the first quarter against Western Kentucky. Stone found himself Wally Pipped by sophomore E.K. Binns who took his job. Binns, a former direct admit, is very strong, explosive and can get to the second level. Binns started the last ten games and his play seemed to improve each week.

Junior center Tanner Fleming is a strong and technically proficient lineman. He started twelve games missing one game with a concussion. He had a terrific game against Notre Dame. Fleming helped the Mids end the season with six straight games rushing for over 300 yards. Blaze Ryder filled in at center for Fleming against San Jose State after Fleming missed the game. Blaze is the younger brother of Mid safety Wave Ryder. Ryder is tough and very physical. He played in seven games and in his only start in the overtime win against San Jose State he helped Navy rush for 432 yards.

Right tackle was the only unsettled position for the Midshipmen on the offensive line. It wasn't expected to be that way. Retuning senior starter Graham Vickers played well in the first two games before suffering a career ending concussion after a late cheap shot in the Western Kentucky game that infuriated the Navy bench. He was replaced by sophomore Brandon Greene who started the next seven games. Greene did a pretty solid job run blocking but really struggled in pass protection. Sophomore Joey Gaston replaced Greene and started the last three games. Gaston was one of the best players at the Naval Academy Prep School in 2011. Gaston had some trouble with Bobby Kough against Army but has a nice upside and should develop into a solid starter.

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