Air Force returns five offensive linemen who started games last year, but it’s still a group that is undergoing some changes.
Lost are All-Mountain West first-team honoree Michael Husar as well as David Jones, who started the final six games at center and Patrick Noyes, who made 11 starts at left guard.
Essentially, the three interior positions on the line all must be replaced. But, again, there are experienced players now filling those spots.
Colin Sandor has settled into the left guard position, where he made two of his five starts last year. A.J. Ruechel is at right guard, returning to the spot he occupied for the first four games last year before sliding out to tackle. Ruechel started all 13 games.
The lone newcomer will be at center, where 288-pound sophomore Alex Norton is trying to fend off Dylan Vail and Jordan Tyler.
At the tackles, Matt Rochell returns for this third straight season as the starter on the left side and Sevrin Remmo, Luke Brantley and the injured Allen Caunitz figure to be the ones vying for the starting spot on the right. Remmo and Caunitz both started at times last year.
“I like the group,” offensive line coach Clay Hendrix said. “We’ve got a little more depth than we’ve had, and we do have a good core of guys who have played a bunch.”
The main question for Hendrix at this point is who will fill out the positions lower on the depth chart.
“In the past it’s been a little more clear-cut who the twos would be,” he said, ‘but I’m not really sure yet.”
OFFENSIVE LINE (VERY, VERY ROUGH) THREE-DEEP
Since offensive line coach Clay Hendrix mentioned some uncertainty in determining a second-team offensive line, I thought it would helpful for Air Force fans to give at least a rough look at the current three-deep depth chart as determined by practice. There is an obvious hole in that one player is not listed on any available rosters, but even beyond that this is obviously a work in progress. Luke Brantley seems to be rolling in at both tackle spots with the No. 1 offense, but it’s unknown if the intent is to roll him in like that during games or if he’s simply spelling a pair of experienced seniors to limit their contact in practice. Also, this is based on who has been seeing time with particular units in practice, so it does not include Allen Caunitz, who rolled his ankle on one of the first days of fall camp. Caunitz started against Boise State last year, but an injury kept him out the remainder of the season. I’m not sure where he’ll fall in with this group when he returns.
Anyway, with all those disclaimers in mind, here's the current group:
Matt Rochell, sr., 6-3, 270 (McDonough, Ga.)
Patrick Holloran, jr., 6-4, 255 (Fairfax, Va.)
Jake Barnhorst, so., 6-4, 260 (Montgomery, Ala.)
Colin Sandor, jr., 6-2, 280 (Carmel, Ind.)
Jackson Wilson, jr., 6-3, 270 (Rochester, Minn.)
Mike Sutton, so., 6-2, 285 (Morrisville, N.C.)
Alex Norton, so., 6-2, 288 (Hamlet, N.C.)
Dylan Vail, jr., 6-2, 280 (Friendswood, Texas)
Jordan Tyler, so., 6-2, 260 (Hoschton, Ga.)
A.J. Ruechel, sr., 6-1, 265 (Atlanta, Ga.)
No. 65, not listed on a roster - if anybody knows who this is, let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org or just comment on this)
Connor Brown, fr., 6-1, 270 (Nashville, Ten.)
Sevrin Remmo, sr., 6-3, 255 (Boulder)
Luke Brantley, sr., 6-4, 250 (Menlo, Ga.)
Spencer King, so., 6-4, weight unlisted (Boise, Idaho)
Melvin Growl, so., 6-1, 250 (Centerville, Md.)