The rest of the offensive line! We are looking for two brand new starters at offensive guard going into spring ball. We lost two guys that held down those two spots for a while for us, so it's time to see what the kids can do. And I combine this with center, because they tend to run guys at both spots to make sure there is quality depth on the interior of the line.
- Gus Handler, Jr - He improved as the season went on and played his best football in the last few weeks of 2011. If he can carry that momentum going forward, he's got a solid chance to be the starting center for the Buffs going into 2012. He moves well and has gotten much stronger since he arrived on campus. He has to continue refining his technique and his ability to make the calls at the line of scrimmage, which we will hopefully see if he gets more first team snaps this offseason.
- Paulay Asiata, So - Yes, if you look closely, I organize these guys oldest to youngest. And Asiata is the second guy on the list... oy. I'm not going too far out on a limb to say this, but he will be one of our starting guards in 2012. Probably on the left side, because that's where they had him playing when he saw the field this past season. He's big (6'5", 295 lbs) and strong, and looks like he can move pretty darn well. He was one of the top players out of Hawaii and a guy we poached from Washington, and it looks like that was a very good thing. He's a better athlete than his predecessor was, so hopefully he can start playing up to his potential (and therefore, improve the play out of the LG position) soon.
- Kaiwi Crabb, So - Strong and compact, and was getting time as the second center in the last seven games of the season. He will push Handler and is a little stouter at the point of attack. I think he has a shot to be one of the first guys off the bench at both center and at guard, and a candidate to start at any of those three spots.
- Daniel Munyer, So - Began the season as the starting center, but ended up as the backup right guard. I think he is solidly in the mix at guard, and possibly still a candidate at center, but where he plays is something to watch in the spring. I think the battle for right guard will be between him and David Bakhtiari (more on this at the end).
- Brad Cotner, RFr - He's listed at center on the roster, but with Alex Kelley coming in January, I believe he'll get his shot at guard as well. Haven't seen any of him, but I'm looking forward to what an interior lineman with his height (6'4") can do. He also is the kind of guy you like, having played on the offensive line in HS at only 240 lbs. It's the reason he didn't get recruited out of high school, but he put on 50 lbs in the season he spent in JC. He didn't play, he just spent time packing on weight, so he may need an actual season of practice before he's ready to contribute, but I like him to see the field at some point.
- Alex Kelley, Fr - A grayshirt who is supposed to be arriving in January. He broke his foot, which led to him delaying his enrollment, but his development should be interesting to watch. A very strong player who was supposedly pretty advanced as a center in high school, which is something you don't see too much. If he can come right in and learn the calls, he may overtake some folks on the depth chart there.
My bold statement for this group? That David Bakhtiari ends up starting at guard for the Buffs. We lose a lot of experience with the graduation of Ethan Adkins and Ryan Miller, but I think we saw both of them reach their ceilings. Adkins proved to be solid by the end of his career here, but Miller never lived up to his billing. I'm hoping that despite these losses, we actually improve at these two spots. We need to bring in two candidates here, but with Kelley redshirting and a majority of the other guys being sophomores or younger, we don't need much more than that. Just like the tackle position, we could bring in a third guy in this class, but we would be better served waiting to completely addressing other positions this cycle. With guys cross-training along the three Interior positions as much as they do, we're actually pretty well set on depth there right now.