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State of the program: Offensive Line

A unit that is under construction

Texas Tech v Oklahoma State Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images

Throughout the summer, we will be taking a look inside the state of the Texas Tech football program. We will analyze each position as a whole and look at the players that have left the team, the current starting players, and how each position is set up for the future. This week, it’s time to get to the big boys in the trenches.

Past

Along with the wide receivers, this group has been Tech’s strongest position. The Red Raiders are one of the few programs that highlight their star linemen from Pat Holmes to Brandon Carter to LaAdrian Waddle. Tech has found recent success in the NFL as well as both Waddle and LeRaven Clark have found a permanent place in the league. We even had super bowl teammates in Louis Vasquez and Manny Ramirez representing while on the Broncos. Last year’s O line did not live up to the prestige giving up 30 sacks, the most since 2013. The biggest reason for this last year was inexperience as Baylen Brown was our only active senior in this unit.

Present

Many players received valuable playing minutes last season which can only help this season. Unfortunately for the team there has been a string of bad luck in this unit. Four players retired from football due to repeated injuries and other reasons. OL coach Lee Hays was also replaced by former Red Raider Brandon Jones. All these changes does not help for depth and experience but it has opened the way for other stars to shine through. Madison Akomnonu was one of those players who were given the opportunity to show what he’s got. Akomnonu struggled mightily his freshman year however he showed improvement in the offseason with the move to guard. The whole offensive line saw a shakeup as Travis Buffy and Terrence Steele assumed starting tackle positions. Prized recruit Jack Anderson, who played center in high school, made to switch to guard in the spring and Paul Stawarz assumed his role as the starting center. This team will also have the services of super senior Tony Morales playing in his 7th season. Morales’ versatility and experience will be big here as he could be asked to back up all five positions. After Morales there is not much depth for this unit as there are three freshman primary backups. If we start to see injuries build up, this could be a long 2017 season.

Future

The good thing about inexperience now is that eventually this group of youthful players become seasoned veterans. The 10 new offensive linemen we currently have will not be new for very long. With the exception of Stawarz, this starting group could have three more seasons together, which would make for dominance by year 2019. We currently have four freshman in the two-deep and as scary as that is now, it will be a strength in the future. We just need this unit to make it through this year and the future is bright.