OSU SPRING PREVIEW: The Offensive Line

CORVALLIS – Four returning starters, a few fresh faces and depth – that's the storyline up front at OSU this spring. The Beavs will enter the 15 practices of spring ball laden with o-linemen, many of whom will have the chance to make an impact due to some bumps and bruises in the blocking platoon. Sean Harlow will make his first blocks as a Beaver, and a position battle royale could take place.

The Good
Oregon State will welcome back all but one starter from the 2012 slate of blockers. Grant Enger, Michael Philipp and Josh Andrews will enter the spring as seniors with their positions in the starting mix pretty well secured.

Add star sophomore center Isaac Seumalo into the mix and it would seem as if Riley and Co. are sitting pretty when it comes to offensive line.

Philipp and Enger both had impressive runs last year, and Andrews really started to come around as a great interior blocker as the season progressed.

Having three seniors will certainly add some veteran leadership to the ranks that can only benefit Oregon State both in and out of the training camp environment.

With highly regarded true freshman Sean Harlow in the fold this spring, that should juice the incumbents a bit. Harlow may have to wait a season or two before he gets to chomping at the bit for starting time, but it should be exciting to see start to develop during the spring.

Perhaps more important in the grand scheme is the fact that OSU could release a depth chart with three and four deeps on the offensive line

. No matter whether some names are placed on that list tentatively - it is a desperately needed improvement from last season. Lack of talented depth was an issue for Oregon State in 2012, even into the latter stages of fall camp. It felt as if the security of Sean Mannion – nay, the entire fabric of the offense - hinged on whether or not the starting O-line could stay healthy.

Now the Beavs usher in a group of 17 linemen, most of them healthy and itching to see some snaps. It's a far cry from when nine live guys were a gift from the heavens.

The Bad
There is no replacing a Colin Kelly. He was the type of tackle that fought tooth and nail to keep is assignment in check and keep his QB safe. He had an extremely off game at the Holiday Bowl last December, but Alex Okafor is no slouch. On the whole, Kelly's contributions to the program were tremendous and it will be hard to find that caliber of player right off the snap in the spring.

Injured/Taking it Easy
The redshirt freshman Garrett Weinreich will be out this spring with knee concerns.

Seumalo and redshirt freshman Chase Eldredge will be limited when camp begins.

The Question
Is Gavin Andrews ready to start at tackle?

The Answer
I was a little shocked to see Gavin Andrews slated as the No.1 right tackle when Riley released his depth chart. I always pictured Enger sliding over to Kelly's vacated post, with Andrews (6-5, 327) moving toward the interior and using that big body to stuff defenders trying to squeeze past center.

Andrew's size is much needed in the line, as is his nasty streak which has been heralded by everyone from Cav to Riley. However, his maneuverability was in question last year and I am not convinced that a guy that size will be able to snap and find the shoulders of his assignment in time to make a considerable impact on the edge. Yet if OSU wants to have more success swinging the ball off tackle, I can't help but see the logic in Riley and Co. opting to continue forward with him as the starting right tackle.

I am of the mind that the O-line depth will see a lot of movement as spring progresses. Is Andrews's role set in stone? Will Enger (who plays like a true tackle) slide over and open up some competition in the middle of the line, where the size of a guy like Andrews could be a massive benefit? We'll see.

In the Wings
Considering Weinreich is still nursing a persistent knee issue courtesy of last fall and Seumalo/Eldredge are likely to be partial participants at the onset of camp, we should get the chance to see more from guys like Harlow, Roman Sapolu and Tyler Ropp in the O-line mix.

Sapolu saw a lot of work last year with the 2's and even saw a shred of time with the 1's late in the fall - he is a sturdy option at center behind Seumalo.

Garett Southam (Fr) and Jake Hatcher (Jr) are a pair of redshirts that entered late into fall camp last season and have yet to make any significant jump in the depth chart. Hatcher's slating as the No.3 right guard seems like it may just be an organizational move, because at 6-3, 264, he is much lighter than the competition.

Josh Mitchell is definitely someone to keep an eye on.

He stands at 6-2, 286 and boasts practice time at both guard and tackle. He is listed as both the No.2 left guard and the No.3 center. Call it writer's intuition, but I sense the next Derek Nielsen with this one, a versatile super sub for the Beavers.

He is a bit smaller than some of his cohorts in the starting rotation, but he can traverse the line and play where/when needed and you can trust he will at least do a satisfactory job. He possesses the raw talent to start a season or two from now – I'm excited to see if he uses this spring to further solidify his name in the conversation for two-deeps.

Grant Bays, Nolan Hansen and David Keller need to look at the spring as an audition period.

Keller and Bays are backing up a pair of seniors in Enger and Philipp, and they could be a big part of the future for OSU blocking corps. Hansen (6-6, 269) could very well be in the discussion for playing time at tackle in the regular season if he puts up enough of a fight against Gavin Andrews. What is this we have? A potential position battle? BF.C will be sure to keep its peripherals fixed on this development.

Oregon State Official Spring Depth Chart – Offensive Line
Three deeps
Right Tackle
1.) Gavin Andrews
2.) Nolan Hansen
3.) Tyler Ropp

Right Guard
1.) Grant Enger
2.) Grant Bays
3.) Jake Hatcher

1.) Isaac Seumalo
2.) Roman Sapolu
3.) Josh Mitchell

Left Guard
1.) Josh Andrews
2.) Josh Mitchell
3.) Justin Addie

Left Tackle
1.) Michael Philipp
2.) David Keller
3.) Garret Weinreich

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