In settling on five starters and a playing rotation at offensive line it would be absolutely huge if either Ben Still, a 6-3, 292 junior, or Robert Conyers, a 6-5, 295 third-year sophomore, emerged as the starter.
At the beginning of spring offensive line coach Matt Luke talked about moving junior guard Justin Bell into the mix in the middle. Now Luke feels like he doesn’t have to do that.
“Because of how well those guys are doing I think we can leave Justin where he is. He’ll play both guard spots. That’s where Justin can be valuable and to have the ability to have Justin as an emergency guy,” Luke said.
Still more of a natural center, Conyers a little more athletic. Still has a slight edge in experience.
If either of them win the job then Bell can play right guard. He been at left guard this spring with Aaron Morris still recovering from ACL surgery.
Morris is expected to be at left guard in August. In the meantime, redshirt freshman Daronte Bouldin has gotten a ton of reps at right guard.
If Bell can remain at center, Luke will have the luxury of treating incoming signee Rod Taylor like the freshman he is and not feeling like he has to rush Taylor into a larger role.
Bouldin will have an impact either as a starter or key reserve.
“I want to see Daronte be able to play some this year. If he doesn’t start I want him to be able to give us some quality snaps at either right or left guard. He’s really coming on. Bowl practice has helped, and 13 practices (spring) i’ve really been pleased with what I’ve seen.”
It’s a similar situation with Austin Golson. He played in 12 games as a freshman last year but missed the bowl game after shoulder surgery.
He’s played right tackle this spring. Tackle is what he played in high school when he was rated No. 3 at the position by ESPN after his senior year.
There will be competition at right tackle in August when junior college transfer Fahn Cooper arrives. Again, depth in the making.
Depth at one of the guards could also come from Carlton Martin, a senior who moved over from the defensive line this spring.
“I’ve been pleased with Carlton,” Luke said. “He’s a guy that’s played a lot of football. He understands concepts. It’s a big change. He has some things he does really really well … pulling. He’s a very good athlete when gets out pulling. That’s probably his strength right now. Learning how to pass pro and all that stuff is a little different for a defensive lineman, but he’s come and and has learned his plays pretty good. He’s learned his playbook. He’s done well, I’ve been pleased with him.”