Monday, March 5, 2012
Analyzing depth at the Offensive Guard/ Center Position
Tommy Olson: was the centerpiece of the 2011 recruiting class. He was a solid 4 star recruit on ESPN and ranked as the #14 guard in the country. Rivals named him to the second team All America team. Tommy is a Minnesota native that played high school ball at Mahtomedi. Tommy is a solid 6'4 289 lbs. His brother is Gopher offensive tackle Ed Olson. Tommy wasted no time getting on the field, as he played in 11 games as a true freshman. He started 3 games at right guard. Tommy is another of the outstanding young offensive linemen that chose to stay home and represent the Gophers. He has excellent size and athleticism for the guard position and shows true explosion out of his stance that enables Tommy to reach 2nd level defenders with relative ease. Many are projecting him to have locked up the left guard position next to his brother Ed for 2012 and the foreseeable future.
Zach Mottla: arrived on campus as a walk on in 2009. He played his high school football for local powerhouse Cretin-Derham Hall and ESPN ranked him the #8 center in the country. He redshirted in 2009 and did not see any action during 2010 either. During 2011, Zach received playing time as a reserve in games against USC, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Northwestern and Illinois. In 2012, Zach is a redshirt junior and weights in at 6'2" 290 lbs. I think Zach has the inside track to be the starting center in 2012.
Conclusion: The momentum that we began to generate after analyzing the offensive tackle position carries over to the interior line positions. The center position is a bit up in the air, but if my hunch about Isaac Hayes is correct that position is locked up for the foreseeable future. This is another extremely young but talented group. Both starting guards look to be sophomores and key depth is provided by redshirt freshmen. The other exciting aspect is that even though the group is young many of them have already obtained valuable Big 10 experience. The group provides great size to hold up in the physical Big 10 and will benefit from the continuity of working with each other over the course of the next 3 years. It is exciting to see the Gophers building a dominant offensive line. In a few years we could be looking at an impressive offensive line of upperclassmen led Jonah Pirsig, Tommy Olson, Isaac Hayes, Zac Epping and Jimmy Gjere. All of those guys, with the exception of Epping, arrived on campus as highly touted national prospects that received scholarship offers from big time programs across the country. The future is bright and the key will be to continually replenish the talent pool in the upcoming recruiting classes.