Fall Camp Preview: Tackles

The tackle position in any offense is a big key, but with how much the Huskies rely on the pass to set up the run, they need much more consistent play out of their bookends. As we head into fall camp, we here at Dawgman.com take a look at the tackle position and who are the players they will count on this fall...

The Players:

Ben Riva (RS Jr., 6-6, 302) - Last year, Riva's first as a starter, the talented O'Dea product started eight games, missing five games due to a broken forearm. When he played, Riva was the most consistent performer along the offensive line. He was able to hold up well in the passing game and at times looked very impressive in the running game. Riva looked more like a basketball player when he stepped on campus back in 2010, but since then he's added nearly 40 pounds to his 6'6" frame.

Micah Hatchie (RS Jr., 6-5, 293) - Hatchie struggled the first part of the season, but as 2012 moved along he started to "get it" and showed flashes of why he was such a highly recruited prospect coming out of Waialua (Haleiwa, Hi.) High School. Hatchie is a good athlete and he's got the mentality that offensive line coach Dan Cozzetto likes in his tackles.

Erik Kohler (RS Jr., 6-4, 299) - Yeah, I included Kohler here even though this isn't his ideal position. The fact is he is one of the backups at the position, so we need to talk about him. Kohler's injured knee last year allowed him to redshirt and he's back and in better shape. It will remain to be seen if he can stay healthy, something he's struggled with since he arrived back in 2010. His versatility is probably his biggest positive and he's the one player that Cozzetto has noted he could plug in almost anywhere and feel at least somewhat comfortable.

Jake Eldrenkamp (RS Fr., 6-5, 292) - Eldrenkamp really impressed as a freshman last fall and the coaches said they were encouraged with his progress this past spring, but he's still got a ways to go before he can be counted on to push for playing time. The best thing that could happen with him is for Washington to get out to big leads, allowing him to get some live reps against pass-rushers from other teams.

Taylor Hindy (RS Fr., 6-4, 299) - Hindy didn't show much during the spring, so it remains to be seen how much he can be counted on down the road. Next spring will be his best chance to show the coaches that he's ready for more opportunities to impress.

Andrew Kirkland (Fr., 6-5, 306) - Kirkland did so well at the Rising Stars camp in 2012 that he came away with an offer and committed shortly thereafter. One concern with some people is the fact that Oregon State and Oregon, his two in-state schools, didn't give him much of a look, but Washington liked what they saw out of him and are very happy to have him on campus. Kirkland has super-long arms and he looks like he could be an ideal fit at right tackle eventually. He needs at least a couple of years in the system to maximize his talents and abilities and if that happens he could be a real asset down the road.

The Battles: It's hard to see much of a battle going on right now with two established starters ahead of two redshirt freshmen. The real competition might be for who plays on what side.

During the spring, when Hatchie went down with a minor injury and missed some reps, Riva moved over to the left side and acquitted himself pretty well.

The Depth: Riva and Hatchie are the clear starters. Word started to come out during the summer that Riva had been moved to the left side of the line and, after checking on some things, it appears that might be the case. Obviously, we will know more once camp gets underway, but, as of now, I'm going to put Riva at left tackle, backed up by Eldrenkamp, with Hatchie on the right side and Kohler/Eldrenkamp backing him up.

Hindy has yet to show much, so it's hard to put him in the two-deeps at this point and the coaches are going to do all they can to redshirt Kirkland.

The Future: Unlike guard, where Washington has recruited well, the Huskies are hurting for both bodies and talent in the depth.

Because both Hatchie and Riva will return in 2014, the need isn't desperate from the standpoint of needing guys to play right away, but the 2014 class will have at least two and probably three tackle prospects in it.

Recently, Coeur d'Alene (Id.) OT Matt James became the first lineman to commit to the Huskies for 2014 and he will definitely be counted on to come in, redshirt and be ready to go in 2015.

Hamilton (Chandler, Az.) OT Casey Tucker, Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.) OT Damian Prince, Sabino (Tucson, Az.) OT Andrew Mike, Fife (Wa.) OT Kaleb McGary, Granger (West Valley City, Ut.) OT Kenyon Frison, Centennial (Peoria, Az.) OT Layth Friekh, Higley (Gilbert, Az.) OT Quinn Bailey and Salpointe Catholic (Tucson, Az.) OT/OG Breeon Auzenne are all players with offers from the Dawgs and all have either visited or are planning to this fall.

Washington has made recruiting along the offensive line a huge priority in this class, not that they haven't in other years, but you can definitely feel a bit of a difference this year.

If they can bring in three talented players at the tackle position this coming February, the coaches and fans will be able to rest a little easier about the tackle spots. Until that happens though, there is some cause for concern.

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