Offensive line. Did that scare you? Did those two words just send a chill down your spine? Did your gag reflex immediately act up and have you searching the nearest sock to puke in? If so, you’re probably a Michigan fan. The 2013 offensive line for the University of Michigan went down as one of the worst in history. Not only did Michigan have the fewest rushing yards in a season since players wore leather helmets, they had several games where the total number of rushing yards was below zero. That’s right, if Michigan’s running backs put a bowl of popcorn on their head and sang “I’m a little teapot” instead of accepting the hand-off they would have gotten more yards. This…is not OK. On Tuesday, during the team’s first spring practice, Coach Brady Hoke announced who he has slated as the starters on the offensive line. Since most of these players are young and without much experience at the college level, let’s delve into their recruiting profiles coming out of high school to see what they have to offer.
Obviously blocking in the college game is going to be much more difficult than blocking in high school, so take this for what it’s worth. So without further ado, here are your offensive line starters six entire months before a football game is scheduled to be played.
*Height, weight, and class are directly from U of M website. If you think something is wrong, go yell at them.
Left Tackle: David Dawson, 6’4, 295 lbs, Redshirt Freshman
Dawson’s profile coming out of high school was that he is a tough S.O.B. A physical, gritty player that’s not afraid to put the opponent on their backside and play through the whistle. Dawson’s courtship with the maize and blue was a strange one, with him committing then decommiting then once again committing to Hoke and company. Regardless, they are happy to have him and if the season started today, he would be challenged with protecting Devin Gardner’s blind side. Most recruiting sites agreed that Dawson was a four-star caliber recruit coming out of high school, and he looks to live up to that billing come fall. A little shorter than you generally want your left tackle to be, Dawson will have to make up for it in strength and technique.
Left Guard: Kyle Bosch, 6’5, 301 lbs, Sophmore
Bosch was pressed into duty last season as a true freshman. This was not a good thing. Although his recruiting profile raves about his athleticism and strength, college football is just a different animal, man. Like Dawson he was described as a tenacious blocker who takes pride in putting people in the dirt, though he maybe slightly more polished that Dawson coming out of high school. Last season was a bit up and down for Bosch, but unfortunately it was mostly down. He was plugged in and taken out of the lineup on numerous occasions as Brady Hoke tried to find a combination of players that could block somebody, anybody. He’s put on 20 pounds since entering college and looks to have plenty of strength to make an impact this year.Seriously, the guy benched 400 pounds in high school. Dude.
Center: Graham Glasgow, 6’6, 308 lbs, Redshirt Junior
Being the only person on this list old enough to drink, there is actually some physical evidence of what he might be capable of doing this year. Hooray! Unfortunately, that evidence might not be very uplifting. Glasgow started a bunch of games for Michigan at both guard and center last year and got pushed around like the rest of line. Strength seemed to be an issue, as defenders were regularly able to bull rush through the former walk-on. He did show flashes though and seemed to do moderately well against guys who weren’t way bigger than him. Here’s to hoping he bulks up! *clink* As previously mentioned, Graham is a former walk-on which means his recruiting profile pretty much just says that he’s taller than you are. Yay recruiting sites!
Right Guard: Kyle Kalis, 6’5, 304 lbs, Redshirt Sophomore
If there was any high school offensive lineman that was ready to play college football coming out of high school, it was Kalis. Big, nasty, tenacious (starting to see a pattern?) Kyle Kalis. Kyle, much like Bosch, was forced to play last season due to lack of big guys who could block people. Again, this was not good. Even though Kalis was rated a 4 or 5-star prospect depending on the site, he just wasn’t ready to take the field. As he found out, blocking becomes a lot harder when you aren’t the biggest person on the field anymore. Kalis will have to polish his technique to live up to the lofty recruiting rankings. Still, people around the program are certain that Kalis will become a star and a potential all Big-Ten performer during his time in the winged helmet. Also, he flipped to Michigan after being committed to the Buckeyes, so everyone REALLY wants this one to work out.
Right Tackle: Ben Braden, 6’6, 319 lbs, Redshirt Sophomore
Ben Braden is a guy who really didn’t have a lot of accolades coming out of high school. Rated as a generic 3-star by most recruiting services, a lot of people overlooked Braden’s commitment and viewed him as a guy who would never see the field. Well it turns out that 6’6 320 pound freak athletes don’t grow on trees, and soon after hitting campus Braden’s stock soared. The rest of the offensive lineman, including former Michigan great Taylor Lewan, raved about his athleticism during practice. Now it’s time to see if Big Ben can put all that athleticism to good use. Last year, he mostly played at guard, although most people see him as a tackle because of his size and footwork. Braden’s time at guard was nothing to write home about, but you already knew that. Michigan coaches are hoping that putting him back on the outside will allow his size and athleticism to really shine.
These guys are really young
Other names to remember
People who follow the team might be surprised by the absence of Erik Magnuson and Patrick Kugler. Magnuson is scheduled to miss all of spring practice due to having surgery to repair his shoulder in the off-season. Mags is expected to battle for one of the tackle spots, likely left tackle, once he returns. Kugler, who redshirted last season, has a lot of hype surrounding him. That tends to happen when your father is the former offensive line coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Kugler will likely battle for the center position with Glasgow and Jack Miller. Reports coming out of camp are saying that Patrick is spending a lot of time with the first team, so it’s definitely something to keep an eye on.
So what does it all mean?
Well, who knows. This in an extremely inexperienced group, but a group that comes with considerable recruiting hype. Nasty, physical, and gritty aren’t necessarily adjectives that you would like people to use regarding your prom date, but they are adoring compliments for offensive lineman. The team will only go as far as this group does. If they improve and live up to the hype, Michigan could be in for a big season. Anything less than that and we could spend the entire season wondering what points look like. After all, it can’t be worse than last year…right? Right? RIGHT?