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Football Outlook - Offensive Linemen
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 04/01/2006
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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2006 Outlook...

Up Front with the Big Boys

Arizona's football fortunes on offense in 2006 surely will stem from playmakers in the so-called skill positions. Yet, one of the team's expected strengths will be on the front, where Mike Stoops and offensive line coach Eric Wolford feel the team will be at its deepest in years.

Stoops, for his part, says, "For the first time, I think we have a chance to put two lines on the field that have really quality players across the board."

The starting point is the return in 2006 of basically an intact starting unit from tackle to tackle.

Graniello
Bell
Levitre
Hawes
Longacre
Junior left tackle Peter Graniello and senior tackle Tanner Bell on the right side, with senior Erick Levitre at center, give the unit some upper-class experience and starting leadership. Although guards Kili Lefotu and John Abramo have graduated, sophomore Joe Longacre saw action with four starts and senior Adam Hawes, a transfer last year, worked his way into top-unit status with three starts.

Their physical improvement and the people behind that group are what makes coaches excited about the play up front. Spring ball will be a test period for guys Stoops says are as good it gets for young talent -- notably mid-year All-American juco transfer James Tretheway and redshirt freshmen Daniel Borg, Eben Britton and Blake Kerley.

Sophomores Bill Wacholz (G) and Eddie Rollmann (C/G) also have two years in the program and have improved physically, along with redshirt freshman Joe Barresi (G), young guys who should provide more depth.

"We're going to have the best competition we've had since we've been here. When you add guys like Tretheway, Borg and Britton and Kerley to the mix, and get them some experience... we're going to have some quality depth," Stoops said.

Borg, who should compete at guard, was the state's Gatorade Player of the Year in 2004. Britton, a tackle, was a top California recruit with four-star talent and prep All-America credentials. Kerley, a young center, earned AP all-state honors in Texas and was an all-star game player. Tretheway, a prep scholar-athlete award winner, appears to have considerable position flexibility and is working at tackle primarily after a junior college career that earned him JC Gridwire All-America honors and California juco notoriety.

Graniello earned honorable mention All-Pac-10 honors last year and opened his career with second-team Freshman All-America honors the year before from The Sporting News. His talent and ability was evident from the get-go, with travel status in 2003 as an emergency option.

Bell, who did not have the benefit of a redshirt year when he first began playing four years ago, probably had his best off-season and returns in the best health of his career. He was awarded a medical hardship year for a 2004 season largely lost to injury. "When I started playing, I was just a kid. I feel so much stronger and mature now."  

Another young player figures to use spring and summer as a springboard for a serious run in fall camp somewhere in the group. Redshirt freshman Adam Grant (6-6, 260) came in the class of 2005 as a tight end out of Puyallup, Wash., and could have an immediate future as a combo player at a jumbo tight end position. Coaches are impressed with his combination of athletic talent and physical potential.

More recruiting success sets up the fall camp arrival of three more touted prep linemen, notably All-American Jovon Hayes. He's likely to open camp at right guard. All-CIF defensive end Colin Baxter should open opposite Hayes at left guard and All-CIF Division IX two-way star Cory Elmore likely to start his career as a right tackle.

The Cats' have been reasonably solid in pass protection in recent years, rating fourth in the league in pass protection last year and second the year before. The Cats had a decent power game in the red zone, rating fifth in the leauge with an 80 percent scoring rate once inside opponents 2 yard-line, punching in 23 touchdowns in 28 trips.

But UA does need to improve its ball-control game, and rushing success always starts with the guys up front. The numbers improved dramatically in the latter part of the year after coaches went with big-play operator Willie Tuitama at quarterback, but Arizona did finished ninth in rushing and ninth in total offense overall.

Wolford stuck to his guns most of the time in the first two years of the Stoops era, using basically five or seven guys throughout every game. In 2006, on the heels of two very successful recruiting years that give Arizona some starting points with better players, he should have some more options.

 

Guard

Joe Barresi                6-6     313    Fr.*       RS       

Daniel Borg                6-5     270    Fr.*       RS       

Adam Hawes             6-4     302    Sr.        1L        

Joe Longacre            6-3     303    So.*      1L        

Bill Wacholz               6-6     294    So.*      SQ       

Tackle

Eben Britton               6-6     280    Fr.*       RS       

Tanner Bell                6-8     294    Sr.*       3L        

Peter Graniello          6-5     296    Jr.*       2L        

Adam Grant                6-6     258    Fr.*       RS       

James Tretheway     6-6     300    Jr.         JC       

Center

Erick Levitre               6-1     282    Sr.*       2L

Blake Kerley               6-2     273    Fr.*       RS

Eddie Rollmann        6-4     290    So.*      SQ

Garon McHone          6-4     269    Jr.*       SQ

Fall arrival:

Colin Baxter               6-4     295    Fr.      Rolling Hills, Calif. (Peninsula)

Cory Elmore              6-5     260    Fr.      Simi Valley, Calif. (Grace Brethren)

Jovon Hayes              6-2     320    Fr       Los Angeles, Calif. (Dorsey)

 

 O-Lines...  Stoops said he felt Kili Lefotu has a chance at late-round selection in the NFL draft, or future work via free agency... Garen McHone, a reserve center, served as long snapper throughout the season a year ago and is back for his junior year... The Cats lost the services of sophomore guard Dillon Hansen, whose back difficulties have him medically not qualified this spring...  Offensive line starts in 2005 -- Bell-11, RT; Levitre-11, C; Graniello-10, LT; Longacre-4, RG; Hawes-3, LG; (Lefotu-7, Abramo-8)...

 

Good pass protection gives Willie time for a throw at OSU

 

 

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