Looking ahead: OLs

Get ready for a radically different offensive line for the 2010 season. Rutgers lost Anthony Davis, Kevin Haslam and Ryan Blaszczyk, and need to plug in different pieces in an effort to improve the unit after a disappointming 2009 campaign. Art Forst, Howard Barbieri and Desmond Wynn are back, but who needs to step in and perform. And what about the incoming class? Are there potential fill-ins?

With Anthony Davis at left tackle, Kevin Haslam at right tackle and Ryan Blaszczyk in the middle, it was believed Rutgers' offensive strength of 2009 would be on the line.

They would open holes for the running game, and take the pressure off an inexperienced quarterback.

Well, the pass protection was fine, but running the ball was another matter. So, with the Scarlet Knights needing to replace Davis, Haslam and Blaszczyk in 2010, is means the offensive line could go throw more growing pains.

Or will it?

Conventional wisdom says it will, but if an offensive line can mesh quickly, it can easily perform better than the sum of its parts. At the very least, a few players will get the opportunity to make an impact for the Scarlet Knights in 2010.

Junior Art Forst is two-year start at guard, but his 6-foot-8, 310-pound frame is suited to play tackle. Whether he has the foot speed to protect quarterback Tom Savage's blindside needs to be proven, but he brings experience and great size to the position.

If Forst moves to the outside, it could mean Howard Barbieri and Desmond Wynn, who split time at right guard in 2009, could man each of the guard positions.

Barbieri, who will be a senior, found comfort at the right guard position. If Wynn can return from offseason shoulder surgery to win the other guard position, it will give Rutgers much-needed experience.

Caleb Ruch was supposed to be the backup center, but an ankle injury left him on the sidelines much of the season. It also left Marlon Romulus, who will be a senior, as a backup who will now get a look in spring practice at the spot.

Red-shirt sophomore-to-be Desmond Stapleton filled in for Anthony Davis at left tackle when Davis was benched in the first quarter against Army for being late to a team function, but he was injured in the game. He could factor in at either tackle position, but may be best suited to play on the left side.

The losses of three-fifths of the offensive line mean opportunity for the younger players but are red-shirt freshmen-to-be Jamal Wilson and David Osei ready to play? What about red-shirt sophomore-to-be Devon Watkis, or senior-to-be Mo Lange? There are also an opportunities for red-shirt juniors-to-be Wayne Thomas and Richard Muldrow.

Coach Greg Schiano has spoken well about red-shirt junior Matt Hardison, and he will be given a chance to compete for playing time.

Rutgers also got a commitment from 6-foot-6, 290-pound Matt McBride, who became a Scarlet Knight when Hofstra announced it was dropping football. McBride said he can play either guard or tackle, and will enroll this month.

One of the incoming freshmen who could impact the 2010 offensive line is Frank Quartucci of Hamilton (N.J.) West. He is set to enroll in January, which will give him a head start on the rest of the class. He could factor into the depth on the interior of the offensive line.

Rutgers is also bringing in a trio of tackles in Passaic (N.J.) High's Jorge Vicioso, Wayne (N.J.) Hills High's Chris Fonti and Taj Alexander of Downingtown East High of Exton, Pa. Also, guard Betim Bujari of Secaucus (N.J.) will round out the recruiting class.


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