Texas A&M spring football countdown: OL
If Kellen Mond is going to take a step forward as a passer in 2019, it will begin with improvement from the offensive line. While the boys up front did well in the run game for most of the year, at times, they failed to protect Mond at times. The offensive line will have to improve in the spring even with the loss of veteran leadership in Erik McCoy and Keaton Sutherland and the departure of OL Coach Jim Turner.
While new OL Coach Josh Henson loses key pieces of the offensive line in McCoy and Sutherland, the former Oklahoma State coach will have plenty of experience to work with as both starting tackles Dan Moore and Carson Green return, as well as experienced interior linemen in Ryan McCollum and Jared Hocker. Henson also has Colton Prater to work with, a senior offensive lineman who has seen playing time at just about every position on the offensive line. It will be interesting to see how Henson organizes the offensive line in the spring. Other than the experienced linemen, there is also no shortage of talent waiting in the wings.
A&M has some quality depth across the offensive line including a few athletes who have been in the program for a while. Kellen Diesch has the ideal frame for an offensive tackle but didn’t play on the line until his senior year of high school. Diesch had to spend some time learning the ins and outs of the position but is poised to take a step beyond providing quality depth in 2019. Riley Anderson is another name on the offensive line who provides depth for the Aggies. The East Texas product has only appeared in two games for A&M. Finally, Grayson Reed will look to contribute to Texas A&M in 2019. The Cypress, Texas native hasn’t appeared in any games for the Aggies yet but his name has been mentioned as one of the more impressive guys on the offensive line and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him thrown into the mix for a starting spot on this offensive line.
Texas A&M signed four offensive linemen in the 2018 class. One of the names that jumps out immediately is Luke Matthews. The youngest of the Matthews brothers redshirted in 2018 but considering his pedigree, he ought to have a chance to see some playing time in 2019. While athletic enough to play on the outside, Matthews projects to the interior. The highest rated of the 2018 offensive linemen was Colten Blanton. Blanton appeared in two games for the Aggies in 2018 but has struggled with injuries. At 6’7, he definitely has the length to play tackle, however, he still needs a bit of development in pass protection. Barton Clement may be the member of the 2018 class with the best chance to see playing time in 2019. Clement projects to center and with the departure of Erik McCoy, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Clement get some first-team reps there in spring. While the previously mentioned Ryan McCollum has also shown the ability to play center, Clement may be the more long term solution. The final member of that 2018 class is Tank Jenkins. The physically imposing guard from Alabama is a monster run blocker who drives through opponents but needed to be fine-tuned when he arrived on campus. Jenkins will look to break into the mix at guard in the spring.
Texas A&M’s offensive line steadily improved as the season progressed in 2018 but there is still room for improvement. Spring will be a time to see how Josh Henson’s presence impacts the line as well as figuring out which combination fits best on the field. A&M has a ton of talent but the starting lineup isn’t set in stone yet. The good news for the Aggies is this is a good problem to have.