Offensive Line Key To 2005 Offensive Success

Scanning the offensive line we see potential problems. Or do we? There are aspects to this line that offer hope ...

The first sticky point that hits you when you begin to scan the offensive line ranks of the Gamecocks this year is their number of capable seniors. They have five that can contribute, two of those potential All-SEC candidates. The second thing that stares at you is on the opposite end of the spectrum. It appears that Carolina has no incoming true freshmen on the roster?

The quick answer is simple. Jarriel King will not arrive until January. He needs a "bit higher" score on his entrance exam before enrolling. And eventually you may see either Jonathan Hannah and/or Shea McKeen on the offensive line, though we dare not think of that or even suggest it at the moment.

Time will tell.

SRs JRs SOs RFR FR Prospects
Na'Shan Goddard Chris White William Brown Jeremy Burgess none Garrett Anderson
Jabari Levey   James Thompson Gurminder Thind   Pierre Andrews
Fran Person   Jamon Meredith Justin Sorensen   Marcus Gilbert
Freddy Saint-Preux Thomas Coleman   Josh Winchell   Daron Rose
Eric Stroman Andrew Knitz       Lee Tilley
          ... and more

What we do see right now are two walkons in the junior class, and two or three redshirt freshmen, any of which may not survive summer practices.

This offensive line is obviously a work in progress.

Goddard, Levey and White are shoe ins as starters. Goddard likely at right tackle, Levey at left tackle and Chris White either at center or offensive left guard. We understand at this point that coaches are leaning toward White at guard at the moment with Fran Person at center but that could flip-flop at any moment.

It is worth noting before we go any farther that, you can get by with a seven deep offensive line in a pinch. It has been done before - Georgia did it just a few years ago and won an SEC East crown in the process. But to do it you have to have five exrtremely hard working and committed starters that are not injury prone, and two very versitile and talented reserves that are very near to starter potential.

The question is, does South Carolina have that on their roster?

Goddard, White and Levey make three.

Jamon Meredith makes four. He is a talented sophomore that saw playing time last season and gained valuable experience in the process. He's the kind of guy you could count on to give you quality minutes at either tackle position, but he also has the feet to give you some guard play as well.

James Thompson was the most talented offensive lineman two years ago in the state of South Carolina and he makes five. Thompson is another guy with the attributes to play either guard or tackle and he will likely be called upon to do both.

William 'WEB' Brown makes six. Brown's work ethic has been questioned at times. Subsequently he is not the physical specimen that some of the others are but he does have the smarts to make things work when called upon. He'll work in a back-up role this season and will be counted on to spell several positions on the line - he'll need to use his head more than the others.

Fran Person makes seven. He is senior that has probably played more positions on both side of the ball than any other player currently on the roster ... and that could payoff this season. Fran has been a defensive tackle, a defensive end, a tight end and now an offensive lineman. His forte, if you will, seems to be at center and guard. That's good because they will need him at both positions.

Eric Stroman is a physical specimen but he has been injury prone so we almost quiver at the thought of mentioning him here for fear that it will jinx him. If the football gods are smiling on the Gamecocks this year then this could be the year when Stroman finally makes it through an entire season as a contributor ... or if history repeats itself he could easily be gone by the end of summer practice. You just never know with Stroman.

Freddy Saint-Preux is an enigma. Here is a guy who has all the tools. He has the size, the strength and the footwork. His light may have come on this past spring giving him the brains to be an offensive lineman as well. And with his buddy Woodly Telfort gone, so goes the distractions that at times seemed to hamper Freddy more than anything else. If Saint-Preux turns it on and reaches his potential this season, he could be the key to this offensive line's success. Why? Because Saint-Preux has 'starter' ability and his contribution could boost Carolina's numbers to a respectable eight or nine which could be counted on to compete in the trenches of the SEC.

Then comes the four redshirted freshmen. Of the four only Jeremy Burgess appears to be safe to assume that he will be here this time next season. The other three, Sorenson, Thind and Wenchell are all in limbo so-to-speak. One or more will most likely not make it past the next couple of weeks. If two were gone by mid August it would not surprise us. If all three make it - that would be a plus for the Gamecocks, but it is not likely to happen.

A full blown SEC offensive line is usually three deep with balanced classes and equally balanced experience from the seniors down with the older guys having more playing time according to class naturally. However, as we have already suggested, a team can get by on as few as seven offensive linemen provided they meet the criteria previously stated.

It appears, at the moment anyway, that South Carolina has at least nine that they should be able to count on for quality minutes this fall.

South Carolina's next recruiting class will have no less than five or six quality offensive linemen signees.

Side Note: Gamecock fans, do not get your hopes up. The Geathers kids go to Georgia.

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