Position Breakdown: Offensive Line

In the fourth installment of our series on the future of the Washington Football program, we take a look at the men in the trenches who do the dirty work along the offensive line.

Returning: C Juan Garcia (Rs. Sr.); G Casey Bulyca (Rs. Sr.); G Jordan White-Frisbee (Rs. Sr.); T Ben Ossai (Rs. Jr.); G Morgan Rosborough (Rs. Jr.); T Cody Habben (Rs. So.); C Matt Sedillo (Rs. So.); G Ryan Tolar (Rs. So.); C Greg Christine (Rs. So.)*; T Skyler Fancher (Rs. Fr.); T/G Mark Armelin (Rs. Fr.); G Scott Shugert (Rs. Fr.)
2008 Recruiting Class: T Drew Schaefer; T Terence Thomas
Still on the board: G Allen Carroll; C David DeCastro; G Mykenna Ikehara; C Jonathan Solomon
* denotes walk-on

While the quarterback may be the most important position on the offensive side of the ball, the line is tasked with protecting the signal-caller so, by proxy, it can be argued they are just as, if not more important than the quarterback.

Above-average offensive lines can make average running backs and quarterbacks look good and the Huskies have done a good job of improving this unit over the past two years. The offense for the Huskies improved immensely as the season went along in 2007 and that can be directly attributed to the improved play along the front line.

The Huskies will have four of their five starters returning, and the young man projected to slide into Chad Macklin's vacated right tackle spot (Habben) saw a lot of time at tackle this past year.

Whatever success the Huskies have in 2008 up front, it will be led by Garcia who returns for a sixth season after getting a medical redshirt from the NCAA.

Garcia is a young man who has one of the more colorful pasts of the recent crop of Husky players, but he's become a solid leader and a sound technician up front. He's strong, has really brought along the young players around him and he'd sell his soul to protect Jake Locker.

Tolar and Bulyca improved as the season went along, with Tolar earning All-Pac 10 Freshman Team honors in several publications. He's got a nasty side and he showed more athleticism than many thought he had this year able to get to the second level on running plays and drive blocking well. Now he needs to concentrate on improving as a pass-blocker and picking up blitzes, something every young player struggles with early in their career.

Bulyca is a mauler up front, but when he was asked to pull he struggled. He also had some difficulties with speed rushers and linebackers who were blitzing and was called for several holding penalties in late Husky drives, but while Bulyca likely will never challenge for All-Pac 10 honors, he's a solid player who will finish his career as a two-year starter.

Ossai had an up and down season in 2007. He's probably the most athletic player of the bunch, but he still struggles in pass-protection, although he improved as the season went along. He's got a good initial punch and once he gets his hands on a rusher, the play is over for that defender, however, he's late getting out of his stance and he sets up too shallow at times allowing speed-rushers to really give him fits. He handles bull-rushers well though and he's improved immensely as a run-blocker.

Habben was the pleasant surprise of the group, able to play a lot as a redshirt freshman in 2007 while gaining valuable experience. He's likely headed to the right tackle position that Macklin held down for three years and the hope is he solidifies that side of the line for the next three years as well. There is also the possibility he could man the left side, where he received most of his playing time, and that Ossai could be pushed to the right side, but at this point it appears he will end up taking over for Macklin.

Backing up the tackles will be two redshirt freshman in Armelin and Fancher. Both have excellent size and Armelin was even running with the second unit for a time during fall camp last year.

Fancher has a ton of potential and might be the second-most athletic lineman on the team. He turned down a late offer from USC so it's obvious he has what it takes to play in the Pac 10.

Word is that both have really impressed the staff with their abilities and that they more than held their own when called upon in practice. Strength and knowledge of the system are on the agenda this fall for both.

Rosborough and White-Frisbee are the backup guards and both can rotate out and play some tackle if the need arises next fall. Rosborough needs to continue to work on his conditioning, something he will struggle with the remainder of his playing career, but the coaches love his athleticism and that he can play four of the five line positions if necessary.

Shugert, who redshirted in 2007, also is a guard prospect the coaching staff loves, but he really needs at least one more full year in the program before he can be counted on to be a contributor. He's in the mold of Tolar, a mauler who has the demeanor to really be aggressive along the line, once he gets his strength numbers where they need to be.

At center, Sedillo and Christine are the backups, but aside from the one play that Sedillo got versus USC (that ended up going for a touchdown) neither has seen the field for any length of time.

The coaches love how Sedillo has progressed so far and that he's mastered the offense, now he just needs to get stronger and become more aggressive along the line. He's a smart kid who is a tad undersized at this point, but from what we hear the coaches wouldn't have a second thought about putting him in to replace Garcia if need arises.

Christine is a walk-on, but he's a solid player with smarts and athleticism. Will he ever see time on the field? It will most likely be as a special teams player, but he's a valuable backup and he'll push the other players to get better.

Verbally committed to the 2008 recruiting class so far are two tackle prospects in Schaefer and Thomas.

Schaefer has a great frame and impressive strength numbers for a young man who didn't start working out regularly until the summer before his junior year. He's mean, loves to play the game and has been a Husky fan since he was an infant.

Schaefer is the kind of line prospect the Huskies used to get on a regular basis and turn into All-Americans and he could end up playing four of the five line positions depending on who else ends up committing to the Dawgs.

Thomas is an interesting player.

He played at a lower-level Idaho school until his senior year, when he transferred to Caldwell High School so he could play against the better competition. The results of the transfer were positive and he's set to be a Husky next fall.

Thomas is a great athlete who, at 6-8, 305 is reportedly an outstanding snowboarder, and he's got the skills to be an excellent left tackle prospect down the road. He needs to work on his strength and technique, but he's got the tools to be a good one down the road.




Previous position breakdowns:

Position Breakdown: Quarterback
Position Breakdown: Tailbacks and Fullbacks
Position Breakdown: Receivers and Tight Ends


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