by Adam Gonzales
Tucson, Ariz. – Arizona football team will be looking to the offensive line this year for leadership as the unit returns four of its five starters from 2013, and three seniors. Naturally, head coach Rich Rodriguez’s expectations are high.
“I expect to not have too many mental mistakes,” Rodriguez said. “I expect us to be able to handle any defense and any blitz.”
The four starters that return are senior tackles Fabbians Ebbele and Mickey Baucus, senior center Steven Gurrola and junior guard Cayman Bundage. The other guard spot is still up in the air but offensive line coach Jim Michalczik has a lot of praise for redshirt freshman Jacob Alsadek.
“Jacob Alsadek stands out to me right now,” Michalczik said. “Right now, he is playing with the starters but we’ll see how it works out at the first game.”
Another player that coach Michalczik praises highly is Gurrola, who is just in his second year at Arizona after starting his college career at Glendale Community College.
“He’s a warrior,” Michalczik said. “He has that warrior mentality, and those are the guys you want as an offensive line coach. You want guys that will compete and will also be gentlemen. He loves football, and I wish everyone was like that.”
Gurrola has been working all offseason to become one of the best centers in the Pac-12, and he is looking forward to competing against elite talent.
“I’m trying to get my weight up and get stronger,” Gurrola said. “Last year, I wasn’t strong enough at times, and now I always lift after practice and I’m winning more of the battles this year. I’m ready to see the big guys on other teams.”
There are six freshmen/redshirt freshmen offensive linemen on this team, which bodes well for the future, and Michalczik is excited to see them develop as time goes on.
“I really like my freshmen,” Michalczik said. “They all have a really good future ahead of them.”
Center Levi Walton is part of that group of freshmen that Michalczik optimistic. He had to make a big change in his game because he was an offensive tackle in high school, and Michalczik feels he will be best at center. Not only did he have to adjust to the new position, he had to adjust to the college game in general.
“It’s a lot faster than I expected,” Walton said. “My first practice was like a blur to me but it has slowed down since then and I’m getting used to the speed of practice. Learning from guys like Jacob Alsadek, Steven Gurrola and Coach Michalczik is a blessing. It’s the best group of guys I could ask for to learn from.”
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