Spring Preview: Offensive Line

The offensive line is the key to moving the football on offense and scoring points. Whether it's run blocking or pass protection, you won't score many points if you don't have the horses up front. Toledo co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Matt Campbell believes he has the horses to do just that in 2009.

The offensive line is the key to moving the football on offense and scoring points. Whether it's run blocking or pass protection, you won't score many points if you don't have the horses up front.

Toledo co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Matt Campbell believes he has the horses. "We can bring the great tradition of the offensive line back to Toledo," said Coach Campbell. "When you think of Toledo, you think of the tradition of a great offensive line. Especially if you go back three or four years ago to the great players that were here. That's where we want to be."

There are a number of players expected to make an impact on the offensive line this year, and it starts with senior leadership.

Jared Dewalt will play one of the guard spots for the Rockets. The senior is 6-4 and now weighs in at 318 pounds. "He's trimmed down and looks good," said Coach Campbell.

Another senior is Buster Garrett. The 6-3, 286 pounder has spent his career at Toledo at center, but he is getting a look at both center and guard this spring. "He brings a lot of experience," said Coach Campbell. "He is competing at both center and guard right now."

Next up is junior is Kevin Kowalski. The 6-4, 290 pounder played guard last year, but is getting a look at center this spring. "He's doing a great job this spring," said Coach Campbell. "He's a special football player."

Next up is sophomore Mike VanDerMeulen. Mike started at left tackle last season and seems to be the front runner for the starting spot again this year. He is tall at 6-7. "He's trimmed down to 300 pounds," said Coach Campbell. "He's got huge upside."

Another guy that looks like he could wind up starting at the right tackle spot is sophomore John Morookian. At 6-5 and 291 pounds he has great size for a tackle. "John's a tough kid," said Coach Campbell. "He's got nice intangibles, good hands and good feet. He's got the toughness that we need on the offensive line."

Junior Nate Cole (6-2, 305) is another player with a good amount of experience from last season. "He played alot of center last year," Coach Campbell said. "He's playing guard and some center this spring. He's had a great camp so far."

Among other guys that either played very little or redshirted last season is Phil Manley. Manley is a 6-5, 310 pound sophomore. "He's going to play guard or tackle for us," said coach Campbell. "He's got a great future ahead of him here."

Next is Danny Farr. Farr, 6-5 and 285 pounds, redshirted last season in his first year at Toledo. "He's going to play tackle for us," Campbell said. He added, "he's competing for a starting spot. He has had a solid last couple of days."

Next is Fadi Farha. Farha, 6-4 and 290 pounds, redshirted last season in his first year at Toledo. "He's going to play guard and center for us," Coach Campbell said.

Next is a player that redshirted as a preferred walk-on last season, AJ Lindeman. "AJ's going to be a tackle," said Campbell. "He's having a great spring."

Two more players are getting a look this spring. "Matt Rubin and Eric Canale are preferred walk-ons in their first year in the program," said Coach Campbell.

Two other offensive lineman are battling injuries right now. Chris Meenan is a 6-7, 334 pound junior. "Chris will play tackle or guard for us," said Campbell. "He is doing well with his rehab and is getting stronger."

The other player is 6-6, 327 pound sophomore Jan Gewont. "He's not playing or participating in drills at all right now," said Coach Campbell. "We are going to take it day to day with him. When he is ready to come back he will play one of the tackle positions.

Finally, the Rockets signed two offensive lineman in the 2009 recruiting class and they are expected to be on campus this summer. They are Manny Bell and Zac Kerin. "The are both great players," Coach Campbell said of Bell and Kerin. He added, "Bell is now up to 280 pounds, and he is 6-6. He will likely play offensive tackle for us. Kerin is in the 285-290 range now. He fits our style very well. We're really excited about both of these young men."

While last season was a learning experience for many on the offensive line, 2009 should be a year with a mix of experience and leadership. Coach Campbell referred to Kevin Kowalski as a leader and someone they are expecting to help out with the younger guys. Coach Campbell spoke well of Kowalski, Dewalt, and Garrett and labeled them all as players that bring a lot of experience to the group.

Ultimately, those three will be looked upon as leaders. Their leadership will be needed if this group of offensive lineman is to reach that level of tradition the Rocket offensive line has come known to be.



Rocket Digest Top Stories