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Spring Football Five Things: Offensive Line

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Jeff Grimes has a lot to work with this spring.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Roster/Depth Chart

Name

Height/Weight

2014 Season

65 Jerald Hawkins (Jr.)

6-6, 309

Started all 13 games at right tackle.

74 Vadal Alexander (Sr.)

6-6, 340

Started 12/13 games at left guard.

77 Ethan Pocic (Jr.)

6-7, 301

Started 12/13 games at center or right guard.

71 Jonah Austin (Sr.)

6-6, 330

Appeared in 5 games as a guard or tackle.

76 Josh Boutte (Jr.)

6-5, 340

Appeared in all 13 games at guard or tackle.

72 Andy Dodd (Soph.)

6-4, 336

Appeared in 4 games at guard or center.

63 K.J. Malone (Soph.)

6-4, 289

Appeared in 5 games at guard or tackle.

64 William Clapp (RS-Fr.)

6-5, 295

Redshirted

78 Garrett Brumfield (RS-Fr.)

6-4, 309

Redshirted.

67 Jevonte Domond (Jr.)

6-6, 310

Appeared in one game at tackle.

**Returning starters in bold**

What's Good?

So much depth, talent and experience in this unit, and in year two Jeff Grimes has a chance to really leave his mark. For all the tremendous work he did closing a loaded recruiting class at his position, he also scored a pretty big win in helping talk Jerald Hawkins and Vadal Alexander into staying for their fourth seasons.

Hawkins was likely a mid-round draft pick with a real chance to work his way up. But with a chance to play left tackle this season, he might be able to even work his way into the first round. The athleticism is certainly there along with the size. He's been a rock over at right tackle the last two seasons, and is probably the only player here with a spot sewn up at the moment.

There's been some talk of Alexander giving right tackle a try in Hawkins' stead. I'm not sure how I feel about that, because the thought of letting Alexander and Hawkins just anchor a dominant left side is kind of arousing. That said, Alexander handled right tackle pretty well as a freshman. If he could stay healthy this offseason and slim down a bit, he could fit the part. Alexander has always been a mauler, but pulling and getting to the next level could be a bit inconsistent. That wouldn't be as much of a problem at tackle.

Pocic is the wild card. The current holder of the T-Bob Hebert Memorial Swing position, Pocic has played center and guard, and could even slide out to tackle. He, and the rest of the young guys in the middle like Andy Dodd, Josh Boutte, K.J. Malone and the redshirt freshmen will be what ultimately determines the overall starting lineup and who plays where.

What's Bad?

If Alexander doesn't wind up at right tackle, that means the position's a little unsettled. Sure, there's plenty of talent to like -- Pocic, Boutte, Malone and Jevonte Dommond should all be capable of handling the position -- but there isn't much game experience here.

What's the goal this spring?

Grimes kind of gets to just lay out all his puzzle pieces this spring without really having to fit them all together yet. Figure out who can play where, then try to get the best five on the field. Alexander at tackle? Pocic at center? That's going to depend on how the rest fit at the other positions. If Dodd or Clapp steps up at center, Pocic can move to one of the guard spots or maybe tackle. If somebody like Pocic, Malone or Dommond are better off at tackle than whomever works at left guard, Alexander might be better off staying there versus moving.

Find the five best offensive linemen on the team. Then figure out how they fit.

What am I watching for?

Don't pay a lot of attention to depth charts or who works where early on in this thing. Grimes has told insiders that these practices will be mostly about experimenting and working through the young talent on this team to figure out exactly how he wants the starting five to look. It's a great luxury to have and the good news is that it's one he should have for a while with the talent coming in.

Last season, there was a bit of an adjustment period early on in the season for Grimes' unit, but it really improved down the stretch, minus an injury plagued Arkansas game. If this unit can come together minus those growing pains, it could once again be the rock that this offense can build on until the quarterback situation can be settled.