Navy Spring Review: O-Tackles

The Navy Midshipmen recently completed their 2014 spring practice drills. GoMids.com will now review every position, listing the starter, backup and third string players. In this edition we look at the offensive tackles.

OFFENSIVE TACKLES

Starters: LT Bradlyn Heap Sr. RT Joey Gaston So.
Back up: LT Brandon Greene Jr. RT Blake Benjamin Jr.
Third String: LT Patrick Hoffman So. RT Blake Copeland So.
Senior left tackle Bradlyn Heap earned All-East honors as starting left tackle last fall. Heap has worked in the weight room and has bulked up to 281 pounds while maintaining his mobility. He had a rough moment on the last play against Notre Dame last fall. Wide receiver Shawn Lynch was stopped on an end around play because Heap looked like he was doing the Curly 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. Heap is a smart, mobile lineman who runs very well. He can get to the second level easily.

Sophomore Joey Gaston started the last three games at right tackle last year. Gaston was one of the best players at the Naval Academy Prep School in 2011. Gaston had some trouble with Army defensive end Bobby Kough in the final regular season game but he has a nice upside and should develop into a solid starter. He was regarded by NAPS head coach JP Shevory as one of the best tackles he has coached since he's been at Newport. Gaston is a 6-5, 281 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 has filled out his frame and added over thirty pounds since graduating from NAPS.

Backup left tackle is junior Brandon Greene who started seven games last year before losing his job. Greene did a pretty solid job run blocking but really struggled in pass protection. Greene is a 6-3, 257 pound tackle who moves well and is pretty quick off the ball into his blocks. He can get to the second level and did a nice job on cut-off-blocks. Green struggled with his pass protection footwork and lacked core strength to redirect a bull rush from defensive ends. His technique was poor and he often was off balance and overextended.

Blake Benjamin (6-3, 271) is a junior right tackle who spent the last few years on the JV team. Benjamin is a smart and aware player with decent quickness. He has added over 20 pounds in the weight room the last few years to move up the depth chart.

The third string tackles were both direct admits last year. Patrick Hoffman was a direct admit from La Salle high school in Pennsylvania. He is following in his father's, also named Patrick, footsteps. His dad was an offensive guard at Navy in the eighties Hoffman (6-4, 265) is quick off the mark. He has the movement skills and athleticism to be a good option tackle. Offensive tackle Blake Copeland was a First team All- State offensive lineman for Muscle Shoals high school (Alabama). He is a 6-4, 258 offensive lineman. He is an average athlete but has good functional football strength. Copeland should get stronger as he matures and spends more time in the weight room to improve.

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