COLLEGE STATION, Texas – If you are an offensive lineman and you want to be drafted into the NFL, a good place to go is Texas A&M. Over the past four NFL Drafts, a total of five offensive linemen have been drafted, with four of those five going in the first round.
But those days are seemingly long gone. The days of Johnny Manziel setting up camp in the backfield, having what felt like hours of pocket protection are no more.
Entering the 2016 season, there are many questions that surround the Texas A&M offensive line, as inexperience spans across the entire unit. With the exception of Avery Gennesy who started every game at left tackle a year ago, the Aggies will have four new starters on the offensive line this season.
When Texas A&M released their two-deep depth chart this past week, the revamped offensive line was finally released to the public.
Gennesy enters his senior year poised to be a solid foundation of the offensive line. With the most experience on the line, many expect Gennessy to play well enough this year to continue the Aggies’ offensive linemen pipeline to the NFL.
Senior Jermaine Eluemunor made just his first career start in Texas A&M’s Music City Bowl loss last season but played in all 13 games. A former junior college transfer, he redshirted in 2014 in part because of the depth already in place on the Aggies’ roster at the time.
“Jermaine Eluemunor has been flexible to do a lot of things,” Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin said earlier this week. “He was one of the top tackles in the country (as a junior college transfer). He’s shown the ability to excel at tackle. When we move him out there, which we’ve done, he’s played really well.”
Sumlin also has shown high praise for new starting center Erik McCoy, a redshirt freshman who impressed him throughout spring and fall practice with his development.
“McCoy has had to make progress because he didn’t play last year,” Sumlin said during the spring. “He has done a great job at center.”
Since fall camp began, freshman Colton Prater has been a point of discussion on the offensive line and has worked his way into the starting left guard position. Sumlin praised Prater’s play so far that has convinced many that he belongs there and deserves an opportunity to start.
“He is a tough guy and he is smart,” Sumlin said. “He’s been here since the spring. He’s supposed to be going to the prom, and he’s in there against Kingsley Keke and Daylon Mack and those guys. That helped him. He is going to play for us a lot this year.”
Sophomore Connor Lanfear rounds out the starting offensive line at right guard, according to the released depth chart.
Sumlin also made sure to stress that a multitude of linemen would see the field. Sophomores Koda Martin, Tank Davis and Keaton Sutherland were all mentioned by name as players who would be flexible guys who they can move around and utilize as backups in 2016.
Texas A&M knows that the offensive line unit needs to see improved play this season. Last year, for instance, the Aggies were tied for 107th in sacks allowed with 37.
(You can follow Curtis Dopson on Twitter @cdop44)
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