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Georgia Tech Football: Way-too-Early Look at 2016 - Offensive Line

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Today, we look at another group that struggled a good bit last year.

RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

Last Season

Whenever a team returns four offensive lineman from a good offensive line, most people think that that offensive line will still play pretty well. Unfortunately, that didn't quite happen for Tech this season.

With the graduation of former All-American Shaq Mason, Tech had to replace their best offensive lineman, a job that fell to the hands of redshirt sophomore Shamire Devine.

The offensive line was then hampered again with the announcement of a season-ending injury for right tackle Chris Griffin. So Tech rolled in the season with an offensive line of Bryan Chamberlain, Trey Braun, Freddie Burden, Shamire Devine and Errin Joe -- only difference from the Orange Bowl team is Devine in for Mason.

Most people, myself included, thought that this offensive line would be good enough to project Tech in the 8-9 win range. All of us were wrong as we severely underestimated the loss of Shaq Mason, the bell cow of the offensive line.

Being the bell cow on Tech's offensive line is an important job and it looks like no one really stepped up to take that job this year. Whatever the reason may be, we will probably never know, but because that happened, the offensive line struggled all year in pass and run blocking, which made it a pretty miserable year with all of the other inexperience on the offense.

As the season progressed, CPJ made some changes on the offensive line, with the line finishing the season with Trey Klock and Will Bryan starting at tackle. Errin Joe also slid inside to play right guard.

Who's Gone?

Well the biggest name here is actually a coach. Special Teams Coordinator Ray Rychleski was tasked with assisting Mike Sewak on the offensive line this season, being in charge of the tackles. Shortly after the season, Rychleski was fired.

From graduation, the Yellow Jackets lost three starters and a back-up: Bryan Chamberlain, Trey Braun, Errin Joe and Tim Seager. That is 72 total starts lost from last year's offensive line. They may not have been terrific this past season, but they were experienced, and any time a team loses that much experience, it will definitely be a challenge to figure it all out.

Tech also lost another offensive lineman. This one is a little bit more interesting though. Earlier in the offseason, redshrit freshman Gary Brown announced that he was leaving both the football team and Georgia Tech in order to pursue a career in art. Big things were expected from Brown after he won Scout Team Player of the Year for the offense last season.

Who's New?

Perhaps the biggest addition here is Rychleski's replacement: Assistant Offensive Line Coach Ron West. West joins Tech after taking a year off after being relieved of his duties as co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach for North Carolina. He's a fantastic recruiter, but hasn't coached the offensive line since 2003.

The only offensive lineman of note that was a redshirt this past season was Brad Morgan, who was named Scout Team Player of the Year for the offense. With so many guys leaving the team, he'll definitely have a shot to compete for a starting spot, but I think he'll mostly play as a reserve for this year.

Right now, Tech has two offensive linemen committed to play for them. Kenny Cooper, a 2-star lineman out of Calhoun, Ga. and the brother of former Tech offensive lineman Trey Braun, Parker Braun, a high 3-star lineman out of Hallsville, Texas.

Tech also has a few offensive linemen left on the Big Board that they would like to add in Donavaughn Campbell, Jordan Johnson and Dylan Powell. It's really up in the air who, if any, will actually end up with Tech, but any who do could very well make an impact this season.

Depth Chart Breakdown

For this, I'll be doing a few different depth charts depending on certain circumstances.

Position First String Second String
Left Tackle Will Bryan Eason Fromayan
Left Guard Shamire Devine OR
Donavaughn Campbell OR
Parker Braun
Brad Morgan
Center Andrew Marshall Freddie Burden
Right Guard Freddie Burden Donavaughn Campbell OR
Parker Braun OR
Brad Morgan
Right Tackle Chris Griffin Trey Klock
Jake Stickler

This is a bit of an ideal scenario on the offensive line, for me at least. I really and truly believe that Will Bryan is our left tackle of the future. He's big, he strong and he showed a lot of promise as a freshman at right tackle. With Chris Griffin hopefully healthy this season and a hole at left tackle, it makes great sense to move Bryan there.

At guard, this will be a fun battle. Obviously, it would be very nice to add Donavaughn Campbell, but even if we don't, I believe that Parker Braun will definitely be in the thick of things. And wouldn't it be some kind of poetic justice if Trey Braun was replaced by his younger brother?

And here is where it gets fun. I decided to move Freddie Burden to right guard in an attempt to get the best five on the field. I believe Andrew Marshall is one of our better offensive linemen, with Burden being the best. Burden played some at right guard during last Spring since he couldn't snap the ball with a huge cast over his hand, and played pretty well there. Marshall has also looked pretty solid at center. The only problem with this is that we don't really have anyone else that could play center.

Position First String Second String
Left Tackle Trey Klock Eason Fromayan
Left Guard Will Bryan Parker Braun
Center Freddie Burden Andrew Marshall
Right Guard Shamire Devine Brad Morgan
Right Tackle Chris Griffin Jake Stickler

This is probably a much more likely scenario, given what we have right now. Trey Klock finished the season at left tackle, so he'll definitely get his shot. There's been rumblings that Will Bryan will be moving into guard this Spring in an effort to help the depleted depth there.

With Burden staying at center, it allows Marshall to remain his back-up. Devine was the starting right guard last year, and barring an injury and someone coming in and usurping him as the starter, he'll probably be the starter.

Position First String Second String
Left Tackle Trey Klock OR
Will Bryan
Eason Fromayan
Left Guard Will Bryan OR
Donavaughn Campbell
Parker Braun
Center Freddie Burden Andrew Marshall
Right Guard Shamire Devine Brad Morgan
Right Tackle Chris Griffin OR
Will Bryan OR
Trey Klock
Jake Stickler

I think this would probably be the likely scenario if Donvaughn Campbell ends up signing with Tech. Him signing with Tech would likely push Bryan back to tackle in place of either Trey Klock or Chris Griffin.

Regardless of what happens, I think there is a serious chance for improvement along the offensive line this season, especially with Ron West joining the staff.