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Position Battles to watch: Right Guard and Right Tackle

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Tech continues to play musical linemen, but the music might finally stop.

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

The last few seasons, it seems like the Yellow Jackets have had to play musical linemen on the offensive line. Injuries and graduation made the depth chart shaky. After losing 2 starters off of the offensive line from last year, one expected departure and one unexpected, it feels like musical linemen is going to continue this season. Fortunately, Tech has experienced players coming back that can step into the lineup to mitigate these losses and competitive younger players looking for playing time. This season, look for the offensive line to have a solid starting lineup at Right Guard and Right Tackle to help the offense perform, and to have exciting competitions between future starters.

Right Guard:

Departed: Shamire Devine

Shamire leaves big shoes to fill, literally. At 6’7 and 380 pounds, Shamire was the largest OL player in the Paul Johnson era. A 4-star recruit and the number 19 ranked player in Georgia in 2013, Shamire came to Tech with high expectations. He would go on to play in 48 games, making 24 starts in his 4 years on the Flats. A great player in the run game, he showed surprising agility in the Trap and Counter Option plays when asked to pull. He is a big loss for the Yellow Jackets going into the 2018 season.

Favorite: Will Bryan

During his time at Tech, Will has been the Swiss Army lineman. Last season, he played in every game and made 6 starts,2 at left tackle, 3 at right guard, and 1 at right tackle. In 2016, he played in 13 games making 11 starts, 5 at left guard and 6 at right guard. In 2015 he played in 10 games, starting 6 of them.

This season expect Bryan to bring his experience to right guard as other players step up at tackle and to have a breakout season as he helps the Yellow Jacket offense.

Competition: Brad Morgan vs. Connor Hanson.

Neither player will compete to unseat Bryan, but they have a chance to fight for a spot on the 2 deep, be a rotational player at guard, and set themselves up as the front runner to replace Bryan in 2019.

Morgan brings more experience to the position, having played in 13 games in 2016 and 4 games in 2017. He was also recognized as the offensive scout team player of the year in 2015.

Despite having less experience, Hanson may have a higher upside. Last season, his redshirt was burned against UNC and he went on to play in 3 games. He showed good agility and an ability to slip to the 2nd level on blocks. The battle for starting RG for the 2019 season will be an exciting one to watch.

Right Tackle

Departed: Jake Stickler

Stickler was an unexpected hole to fill for the Jackets. Forced to retire from football after the 2017 season, he takes away a good bit of experience that the Yellow Jackets look to replace. He started 10 games at RT in 2017 and played in 8 games in 2016.

Favorite: Andrew Marshall

The impact of Stickler’s retirement is lessened by the return of Andrew Marshall from his injury that kept him out of the entire 2017 season. Marshall has several seasons of experience on the offensive line, making him one of the strongest assets for the season. Marshall was recruited to Tech as a center but found a home playing tackle. He played in 10 games as a freshman, 12 games as a sophomore, and 11 games- with 9 starts- as a junior. Marshall’s return will solidify positions on the offensive line and end the game of musical lineman the Jackets have had to play the last few seasons.

Competition: Zach Quinney vs. Jack DeFoor

Similar to right guard, don’t expect either Quinney or DeFoor to unseat Marshall as the starter. As younger players, they will fight for a spot on the 2 deep and set themselves up for the starter spot in 2019.

Quinney is a redshirt freshman from Savannah. He showed good pad level in his HS tape and the length and athleticism to excel at tackle.

Jack DeFoor is a bit of a mystery man. Signed with Ole Miss out of high school, redshirted, then played in 5 games in 2017. He was granted a waiver after the transfer and will be eligible to play this fall. He has the size and length to play tackle, the question is how quickly will he be able to pick up the offense?

Conclusion:

Though the Jackets lose a good bit of experience on the offensive line, there is reason for optimism. Returning experience and talented depth make up for the losses and could help the Jackets rebound from a disappointing 2017.