CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina was the lone ACC program to return all five starters along the offensive line in 2015. However, only four of those linemen are expected to start against South Carolina in two weeks due to sophomore Bentley Spain’s emergence at left tackle.
Spain enrolled at UNC in January 2014 considered to be a top-15 tackle nationally by most recruiting services. After an initial setback that first spring due to injury, Spain worked his into the two-deep and played in all 13 games last fall on special teams and as a reserve tackle. He played a season-high 24 snaps against Liberty in the season opener.
Fast forward to his second spring in Chapel Hill and the Charlotte, N.C. product nudged out incumbent John Ferranto at left tackle for a spot with the first team.
“Bentley Spain has stepped up at that left tackle position and is doing a really nice job and adding to it,” UNC head coach Larry Fedora told reporters last week.
The 6-foot-6, 300-pounder highlighted a combination of mental of physical hurdles that he had to clear during his freshman season to solidify his place on the offensive line.
“I think it’s just getting experience, taking reps and maturing physically, also,” Spain said. “Really, it just takes a little time for O-linemen. At least for me it did to gain experience and really know what I was doing so that I could play fast.”
His talent and size are evident both in person and on film. It was the finer points of the game, though, that helped Spain move past Ferranto during the offseason.
“A big thing for me was my hand placement in pass protection,” Spain said. “Taking good pass sets and getting my pad level down in run blocking. Just working on being technically sound and being consistent with that is the big thing for me.”
Junior left guard Caleb Peterson praised Spain for a seasoned level of maturity well beyond his young age of 19.
“I’m impressed with his knowledge of the game, just the football IQ that he has,” Peterson added. “That’s really something that can’t be taught, the instinctual things.”
Spain joins a starting lineup that boasts 88 career starts up front.
Spain Locking Down LT
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