Every offensive line needs a leader.
When Georgia Southern changed its entire offensive philosophy in the spring of 2010, its o-line leader came from the least likely of places.
Brett Moore was the backup long snapper, and had seen only two plays on the field prior to 2010.
Fast-forward a year, and Moore is all of a sudden an All-American at offensive tackle.
“I don’t know if I can say I’ve ever seen another story like his,” said second-year GSU coach Jeff Monken. “He’s just handled it with such graciousness and humility. He is a tremendous leader. He does it the right way. He is encouraging and he’s a hard worker.”
Moore doesn’t just focus on helping the line. He helps out in other places, too.
“Before the punt returners get out here,” Monken said, “the punters are out here warming up their legs and he’s the one catching punts. He catches them all.”
Moore, Brandavious Mann and William Maxwell are the team’s key senior leaders on the line, and they have their hands full with 11 freshmen and redshirt freshmen offensive linemen listed on the roster, all getting acclimated at GSU.
“I can’t say enough about them as leaders,” said offensive coordinator/OL coach Brent Davis. “It’s not like they’ve been in this offense four years, but they’ve really taken ownership of it.”
“I’m a little more vocal than everybody else, just to keep everybody’s spirits up and keep the intensity up a little bit,” added Moore. “There’s three seniors on the offensive line, and we take control any way we can. For everybody to get better, everybody’s got to be a leader in some way.”
With so many players in the system, the team looks to add depth to a line that rotated seven in 2010, including then-true freshmen Dorian Byrd and Zach Lonas.
“It would be awfully nice to be able to take a second group of guys — like a hockey line — have five of them skate off and five more skate on,” Monken said. “I don’t know if we have that kind of depth, but we have some guys we’re going to be able to use.”
Davis challenges the group daily to state their case as a contributor.
“Last year we played about six guys a game. I’d like to play 10 or 12,” said Davis. “I keep telling them, ‘I want to add another guy every day. Give us a reason to put you in the game.’ There are a lot of guys working towards that right now.”
Between injuries and an extended, 15-game season in 2010, depth was an issue across the board and has been addressed in the offseason.
“We’re about four-deep at every position right now in camp except a few of the skill positions,” said Monken. “We’ve got seven slotbacks for two positions, we’ve got seven cornerbacks for two positions, at safety we’ve got six right now for two positions - some of the lines are shorter. But it’s good. They can all get reps and we can train those guys and be able to push the tempo.”
It’s especially been a luxury on the o-line.
“We’ve got four groups on offense which is amazing,” Mann laughed, “especially on sled days.”
The Eagles had their first scrimmage Saturday morning at Beautiful Eagle Creek, with each of the four groups getting around 30 snaps. The starters got the most work
Georgia Southern will return to the practice fields today at 3:45 p.m. and work a two-a-day on Monday.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.