Spring Practice: What we are looking for—Offensive Line
Player Lost: Daniel Sanders
Lettermen Returning: Nate Solder (Jr.); Devin Head (Sr.); Matthew Bahr (So.); Ryan Miller (So.); Maxwell Tuioti-Mariner (Fr.); Shawn Daniels (So.); and Blake Behrens (So.)
Others Returning in 2009: Bryce Givens (Fr.); Mike Iltis (So.); Ryan Dannewitz (Fr.); Ethan Adkins (So.) David Clark (So.); Sione Tau (So.); Evan Eastburn (Jr.); and Keenan Stevens (Jr.)
New in 2009: Jack Harris (Fr.); David Bakhtiari (Fr.); Gus Handler (Fr.); Shaun Simon (Fr.)
First, let’s look at the starting lineup for the entire second half of the 2008 season: LT-Nate Solder; LG-Blake Behrens; C-Daniel Sanders; RG-Devin Head; RT-Matthew Bahr.
With only Sanders lost, to the non-Buff fan it might appear as if the new offensive line coach, Denver Johnson, would only have one replacement to find. Buff fans, though, know better, which is why the offensive line will be one area of focus for many this spring.
There are some players listed above who will have to wait until August to make their cases to be in the starting lineup (including the three incoming freshmen listed above). Maxwell Tuioti-Mariner (MTM) suffered his third ACL injury in three seasons on March 4 and will not be available until at least fall practice.
The following will also be on limited duty this spring: Blake Behrens (offseason shoulder surgery); Devin Head (offseason shoulder surgery); and Mike Iltis (tore ACL last August). Ryan Miller, who broke his leg during the Florida State game last fall, is listed as a "Full Go" for spring practice.
Want to take a stab at a starting lineup for Sept. 5? It might be as easier to pick the Final Four in your March Madness tournament pool. Best bets at this point would likely include returning starters Nate Solder (LT) and Devin Head (RG), joined by Ryan Miller (RT). At the other guard position, look for Blake Behrens to be challenged by Bryce Givens and Mike Iltis (and don’t completely count out MTM, who could be back this fall).
At center, we may have to wait until August to see if Gus Handler or Shaun Simon can assume the duties as true freshmen. This spring, those listed at center on the roster (transfer Evan Eastburn and fellow junior Keenan Stevens) may have to battle for playing time with a guard (Mike Iltis?) who slides over from the guard position.
For my part, there would be a certain poetic justice to the following starting lineup on Sept. 5.
OT - Ryan Miller (Littleton)
OG - Bryce Givens (Mullen)
C - Evan Eastburn (Fairview)
OG - Jack Harris (Chaparrel)
OT - Nate Solder (Buena Vista)
You got it: an all-Colorado high school starting five! (Just in case the Ram fans happen to forget which school is the flagship school for the state of Colorado!)
The absolute best part about playing offensive line bingo with all of this talent? Look again at the roster of players at the top. Look for the number of seniors who are listed. Yup. One. Devin Head. Plus, there are only a handful of juniors this year
The Colorado offensive line could be a force to be reckoned with, not only in 2009, but for years to come!
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