Let’s examine the offensive line for the 2011, likely the deepest and most experienced unit the Terps have had since the 2003 team.
Pencil in Justin Gilbert assuming he can return from his season ending knee injury suffered in the WVU. At 6’6 305, and a redshirt Junior, he should be a solid blind slide protector for O’Brien. True Sophomore Max Garcia saw his first game action against FSU and I think he could push Gilbert here for time if not the starter’s job if Gilbert is not 100%. Backups Redshirt Sophomore Arnott and RS Freshman Jake Wheeler should battle for the 3rd string job although Wheeler might see time at TE if he cannot add bulk to his 6’8 frame.
Andrew Gonnella was one of the best lineman in 2010 and he still plays with a walk-on’s attitude which will help as he is the lone Senior on the line. RS Sophomore Pete White really needs to push hard for playing time as the job should be his to lose in 2012. The former 4 star recruit has plenty of upside but still needs to drop some weight and improve in pass pro. RS Sophomore Cody Blue should figure somewhere in the mix at either guard spot along with one of the 5 true freshman.
True Junior Bennett Fulper can also play guard but I think he can be penciled in as the center for the next two seasons. One of the few lineman is make an impact as a true freshman, Fulper will help mentor freshmen Sal Conaboy and Evan Mulrooney. If Conaboy can step up in 2011, maybe Fulper can be moved to guard if injuries or underachievement occurs at either guard spot. Mulrooney might be a future star as well.
Junior Justin Lewis appeared to turn the corner in 2010, playing solid football down the stretch. The bulky guard could be the strength of the line in 2011. Nate Clarke comes in as a freshman but has a year of prep school behind him and I think he makes the biggest impact in 2011 of all the freshman lineman.
RJ Dill is the most experienced of lineman, and has started at Left and Right Tackle. He has ideal size for a tackle and I could see him getting ALL-ACC honors before his time is done. Pete DeSouza should be ready for the 2011 season after suffering the horrific leg injuries but with Dill, he won’t need to be starting against Miami on Labor Day. Nate Klemm needs to push hard to get into the rotation during his sophomore season while a true freshman like Andrew Zeller or Stephen Grommer could get in the mix although I expect all true freshman but Clarke to redshirt.
What are your thoughts?