Temple's offensive line in all-out competition this spring
Geoff Collins new staff has encouraged trying the linemen at several positions.
Temple's new football coaching staff is stressing versatility this spring. That has especially been the case with the offensive line.
Some linemen have been taking repetitions at as many as four positions. This should help the Owls depth-wise from a unit that should be solid but has two major holes to fill.
New coach Geoff Collins retained assistant Chris Wiesehan, who coached running backs last season but is back coaching the offensive line. In Wiesehan's first two seasons at Temple in 2014-2015, he also was the offensive line coach.
Collins has said the best five players will start, regardless of position. That is why this spring, many have been playing different positions.
"This might be the most versatile line in my five years here," said redshirt senior Adrian Sullivan, who started all 14 games at right guard last season. "We have got guys who can play all over."
Sullivan (6-foot-3 303) is one of those guys. This spring he has played everywhere but center. He has seen action most at left guard.
One of the bright spots of the spring has been center Matt Hennessy, a redshirt freshman. Last season, Hennessy appeared in three games but retained his redshirt status. Hennessy (6-4, 285) is the leading candidate to replace the graduated Brendan McGowan at center.
"He is a guy projected to be that guy [at center] and he has held onto it," Wiesehan said of Hennessy. "He is so cerebral, very good above the neck and good at directing traffic."
Besides Sullivan, the other returning starters are redshirt sophomore Jovahn Fair (6-2, 300) and redshirt senior Leon Johnson (6-5, 320). Johnson has been sidelined because of injury this spring. Two players who have been getting a lot of time at the tackles are redshirt senior Cole Boozer (6-5, 285) and redshirt junior Jaelin Robinson (6-6, 325).
Boozer is a converted tight end who has seen extensive time at left tackle this spring. Whoever wins the left tackle spot will have the most challenging task: replacing Dion Dawkins, who is projected to be selected in the first three rounds of the NFL draft.
"Boozer is doing a great job," Wiesehan said. "His weight is going up, he is soaring right now and we are excited."
Among the other linemen are guard Brian Carter, a redshirt senior who has appeared in 36 games, and tackles James McHale and Aaron Ruff (redshirt juniors) and Darian Bryant and Vincent Picozzi (redshirt freshmen).
Even a veteran like Sullivan isn't taking anything for granted.
"There is an understanding that If you don't come with it every day, there is somebody who can take that spot, so definitely there is a lot more competition," Sullivan said. "I feel this will be the best offensive line we will have in my time here."