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Position Previews: Offensive Line

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The end of musical lineman bodes well for a deep and talented unit.

Georgia Tech v Virginia Tech Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images

The 2017 season was a roller coaster of highs and lows for the Tech offensive line. The Jackets ran for 400+ yards 4 times but were held below 250 yards 5 times. The lines struggles were mostly due to injuries that caused the Jackets to play musical lineman last year to try and fill the gaps. The good news is that players are healthy and the offensive line has a chance to be one of the most experienced position groups this season.

Starters

LT - Jahaziel Lee: 6’2, 277, Junior. Lee started six games as a true freshman and nine games last season. He brings good athleticism to the tackle position and shows good ability to slip to the second level and block in space. He struggles in pass protection, the Wake Forest game in 2017 being a good example. Expect him to get better with another year under his belt. He also played center late in spring and may be called upon to do that again, if Kenny Cooper is unable to go early in the season.

LG - Parker Braun: 6’3, 280, Junior. Braun has been a rock at guard since he arrived on the Flats. His freshman year (2016), he played in 12 games, starting the final eight. After the season he was a named a freshman all American by multiple outlets. He followed up his stellar first season by starting all 11 games at left guard in 2017, and was a named a 2nd team all ACC selection. Braun is the best offensive lineman for the Jackets and looks to be one of the best in the Johnson era. He is great at getting to the second level and underrated in his pass protection. He also makes the line calls and helps to set the assignments for the offensive line. Expect Braun to continue as the lynch pin of the Yellow Jacket offensive line.

C - Kenny Cooper: 6’3, 307, Junior. Cooper played in five games as a true freshman, including a surprise start at Virginia Tech, where he helped the Jackets to a 30-20 upset of the Hokies. He started all 11 games at center in 2017. Cooper is a very solid option at center and has been reliable in his two seasons. Unfortunately, Cooper missed all the spring with an injury. He should be ready for fall camp.

RG - Will Bryan: 6’4, 281, Senior. Bryan has been the Swiss army lineman for the Jackets in his four years here. Bryan has been a starter since his freshman season, in 2015, starting five games at right tackle. Bryan then spent 2016 starting 11 games, five at left guard and six at right guard. This musical lineman continued in 2017, where he started two games at left tackle, three games at right guard, and one game at right tackle. Bryan played well, given the fact he could never just focus on playing one spot. This fall, look for Bryan to have a very successful season, as he will focus on playing at his strongest position.

RT - Andrew Marshall: 6’4, 282, R-Senior. Marshall is a very experienced player coming off missing the entire 2017 season due to injury. His experience will help to lessen the loss of former starter Jake Stickler. Marshall originally came to Tech as a center and the heir apparent to Freddie Burden, but Kenny Cooper’s breakout play shifted Marshall to tackle where he started nine games in 2016. Marshall staying healthy will be a key to the Jackets not having to play musical linemen.

Depth

Tackle

Jack DeFoor: 6’5, 305, R-Sophomore. DeFoor is the wildcard. He signed with Ole Miss in 2016 out of HS. He redshirted his freshman year and played in five games last season. He has the size and length that the Tech staff looks for in tackles. The biggest question mark, for his playing time, will be his ability to learn the offense.

Zach Quinney: 6’6, 265, R-Freshman. Quinney spent 2017 taking a redshirt year, after arriving at Tech from Savannah Christian. Quinney has the length to play at tackle and showed good ability to play with a flat back and low pad level in HS. Expect him to push for some playing time in the tackle rotation. He will be a main competitors for a starting position in 2019.

Charlie Clark: 6’4, 286, R-Freshman. Clark spent 2017 taking a redshirt year, after coming to Tech from Marist, a HS program that is famous for its option run attack. this experience will help him in his transition to the college level. He is another player with a chance to work their way into the rotation in 2018 and be an integral part of the position battle in 2019.

Bailey Ivemeyer, 6’1, 270, R-Junior. Ivemeyer is another member of extensive line of walk-on offensive linemen that have worked their way into playing time. Following in the footsteps of Sean Bedford, Brad Sellers, and Tyler Kidney, he played six games in 2017, starting the Virginia Tech game at left tackle. He will be an integral part of the tackle rotation this fall.

Guard

Brad Morgan: 6’4, 288, R-Junior. Morgan is an experienced player, having played in 13 games in 2016 and four games in 2017. Morgan will be the first man off the bench in the guard rotation as well as a large part of the battle to replace Bryan in 2019.

Connor Hansen: 6’2, 325, Sophomore. Hansen played in four games in 2017. His most extensive playing time was vs. UNC. He showed flashes of being a solid player at guard, with a good ability to climb to the second level. Look for him to fight to be in the rotation at guard and then compete for the starting role in 2019.

Center

Scott Morgan: 6’4, 290, R-Junior. Morgan came to Tech in 2015 as a defensive lineman and was named scout team defensive player of the year following the 2015 season. He moved to offensive line in the spring of 2016 and saw action in three games in 2017. Morgan has a chance to solidify the back-up center position.

Others

Boe Tufele: 6’3, 290, R-Freshman. Boe took 2017 as a red-shirt season, spending his time on the scout team. Boe came to Tech from Narbonne HS in Harbor City, California. Boe will have a chance to compete for playing time and depth at one of the guard positions.

Mikey Minihan: 6’3, 275, R-Freshman. Mikey took 2017 as a red-shirt season, after comeing to Tech from Hawaii HS powerhouse St. Louis. Mikey will have a chance to compete for playing time and depth at one of the guard positions.

Freshmen

With the returning depth and experience on the offensive line, I would not expect to see any of the freshman have much of an impact. I see them taking redshirt years and having a chance to compete in 2019 and especially in 2020, when Tech will be replacing at least three long-term starters.

Michael Maye: 6’3, 295. Mike comes to Tech from a powerhouse HS football program, Hoover HS in Alabama. He was a 3-star rated recruit, the number 42 player in Alabama, and the 51 rated guard in the country. He played and excelled in the Alabama-Mississippi all-star game.

Zakk McKeehan: 6’4, 285. Zakk comes to Tech from West Feliciana HS in Saint Francisville, Louisiana. He was a 3-star rated recruit, the number 74 player in Louisiana, and the 84 rated strong-side defensive end in the country.

Harrison Jump: 6’5, 260. Harrison comes to Tech from the Prince Avenue Christian School in Bogart, Georgia. He was a 3-star rated recruit, the 162 rated player in Georgia, and the 149 rated tackle in the country.

Conclusion

The biggest key for the Yellow Jacket offensive line is to avoid the injury bug. If everyone stays healthy, this will be one of the most experienced and deepest offensive lines we have seen on the Flats in a long while. Look for them to pave the way for an improved offense, with a better rushing attack and better pass efficiency, as TaQuon Marshall will have more time to open the passing game.