O-line at a Glance: Sam Sterner

Coming off a tackle feature in which we harped (perhaps a little excessively) on the inexperience of sophomore Ryan Otterson, we now move on to the left guard position, where 2007 starter Sam Sterner makes Otterson look like a veteran.

At 19 years old, Sterner is one of the youngest players in the unit. He redshirted last year, and the most action we've seen out of him was during spring training, where Wyoming Head Coach Joe Glenn said he had an "excellent camp."

Now in his redshirt freshman season, Sterner will be joined by either fellow redshirt freshman Jack Tennant or sophomore Russ Arnold at the right guard spot. Originally coaches planned on Sterner and Tennant getting the nod as starters, but when Tennant went down with an injury this spring, it opened the door for Arnold; as of now, the job is still up for grabs.

While the line is deep, especially at guard, coaches know it will take time for these young men to get their feet under them.

"Sterner (and) Tennant...are very green," Glenn said. "Although talented -- maybe as talented as we have been at the guard spot -- they will need to gain valuable experience."

Despite Sterner's youth, he is one of the most physically gifted members of the line. At 6-foot-4 and 288 pounds, he's blessed with nice size, especially for a freshman, and according to Foxsports.com writer Pete Fiutak, Sterner added nearly 40 pounds to his frame this off-season. And while his mom may have to help him pay for a few new pairs of pants, the weight will undoubtedly make him a more physical presence up front.

So much added mass could raise concerns about Sterner's ability to maintain descent foot speed in pass-blocking situations, but fans should note the big man's history of athleticism before jumping to any conclusions. Sterner was an impressive high school performer at Wachovia High in Minnesota, where he was one of the school's premier two-sport athletes. A starter on both the offensive and defensive lines, he was voted Wachovia's "Outstanding Lineman" and earned Honorable Mention All-State and Third Team All-Metro honors as a senior. He also led his school's basketball team to a 27-3 record and a fourth place finish at the state championships.

Perhaps more telling, Sterner was recruited by major division one programs, including Minnesota and TCU, before committing to Wyoming. Born into an athletic family, his dad, Frank, played a year of football at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

Still, Sterner has seen less field time than any player we've featured on this site, and with the loss of so much senior talent from a year ago, fans have a right to be concerned. He had a consistent spring, but Sterner's real test will begin September 1, when the pressure of his first DI game sets in. No doubt opposing defensive coordinators will attempt to take advantage of the Pokes' youth on the line this season, and while there is no guarantee the '07 squad won't be just as good or better than a year ago, Wyoming's first few games will tell us a lot.

For the time being, however, Sterner has a good upside and shows terrific potential. Look for him to make an immediate impact and eventually play as consistently as any freshman on the team.

Sterner's 2007 Keys to Success:

1. Maturity. Sterner may not have been out of high school long enough to figure out not to put his favorite red t-shirt in with a load of fruit of the looms. So the obvious question will be whether he and his pink whitie-tighties can adjust to the system and pressure that will be put before him. He showed plenty of leadership skills in high school. Now let's see if he can make them translate to the next level.

2. Foot speed. Sterner isn't huge for a guard but he's definitely bigger than he's ever been. If I put on 40 pounds that fast, I wouldn't be able to get off the ground--let alone do something productive. There's no doubt Sterner is more of a man than I am, so we'll see if he has still retained the agility he had at 250 pounds.

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