Don Hansen

2014 Look Ahead: Offensive Line

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The 2013 season has concluded, and 2014 Signing Day is rapidly approaching on February 5th. After Signing Day, spring practice is right around the corner for the 2014 Arizona State Sun Devils. Previously, the “2014 Look Ahead” blogs reviewed quarterbacks,  the defensive linelinebackers, and the secondary. The “2014 Look Ahead Series” continues with the offensive line.

Offensive Line Team Members Leaving

  • Evan Finkenberg, starting left tackle for three seasons, 2013 First Team All-Pac-12
  • Kody Koebensky, starting center for two seasons

Offensive Line Team Members Returning

  • Tackles
    • Taylor Sulka, starting right tackle for one season
    • Evan Goodman
    • Willie McGehee
    • Jack Powers
  • Guards
    • Jamil Douglas, starting left guard for two seasons, Second Team All-Pac-12
    • Vi Teofilo, starting right guard for one season
    • Christian Westerman
    • Sil Ajawara
    • Stephon McCray
    • Devin Goodman
  • Centers
    • Nick Kelly
  • 2014 Verbal Commitments
    • Sam Jones, OT
    • Quinn Bailey, OT

Heading into spring practice, offensive line coach Chris Thomsen, along with offensive coordinator Mike Norvell, are looking to replace Finkenberg and Koebensky. One of the replacements will be Christian Westerman, but some shuffling between positions will most likely happen. Westerman, the five-star offensive line prospect out of Chandler Hamilton, transferred to Arizona State from Auburn. Westerman showed his physical power throughout 2013 practices at right guard, a position that Teofilo excelled at last season. Teofilo, a former heavyweight All-State wrestler, possesses great athleticism and strength as he is often asked to pull and block in space. Several combinations of linemen could fall out of spring practice as Kelly, Ajawara, or Evan Goodman, who redshirted in 2013, rotate in and out of reps. Each rep in spring practice will be critical for this group as spring practice will be the time for the best five offensive lineman to step up, so the coaching staff can settle on and organize a starting unit. Arizona State was one of the few teams in the nation to start the same offensive line in each game last season, so consistency is important to the coaching staff.

The first option to examine could be an offensive line (LT, LG, C, RG, RT) of Ajawara, Douglas, Teofilo, Westerman, Sulka. If Evan Goodman realizes his potential, then he could take that left tackle spot from Ajawara in that scenario or even supplant Sulka. Also, Teofilo would have to take his game to another level mentally in order to play center. Another option could involve moving Douglas to tackle and inserting Kelly to center, so a possible offensive line combination would look like Douglas, Teofilo, Kelly, Westerman, Sulka. There are multiple options, and the coaching staff will be constantly evaluating across all phases of the football program to find their starting five.

For future seasons, the 2014 recruiting class must add more high school talent to this position group, and it has a good start with Jones and Bailey. In the first two signing days classes under Todd Graham, only three high school offensive linemen have signed with Arizona State (E. Goodman, McCray, Powers). The loss of local start Casey Tucker, a true left tackle out of Chandler Hamilton, the same school that produced Westerman, to Stanford hurts. According to recruiting services, the Sun Devils are now aggressively pursuing Kenyon Frison, an offensive tackle out of Utah, and Ty Barrett, an offensive guard from Dallas. Both high school seniors visited Arizona State officially over the weekend of January 17-19. Additions of Frison and Barrett would create a deep unit of future big men wearing the maroon and gold.

Overall, the coaching staff at Arizona State knows they have an above average starting unit with talent, but in order for the offense to go to the next level, the offensive line needs to get bigger, stronger, and faster to compete with defensive lines like 2013 Stanford’s or 2013’s Notre Dame units. The staff is working hard to add depth to the program for the future.

About Don Hansen

Don Hansen

Don is a 2003 graduate of Arizona State University where he spent four years sitting in the front rows of many ASU athletic events leading the rowdy student section. Now, Don co-hosts the "ASU Devils Den" podcast covering every detail of ASU football. Don works and resides in Gilbert, Arizona with his beautiful Sun Devil wife and their two beautiful daughters!

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