Florida State Offensive Line Depth and Recruiting

Y'all can thank reader "Chip30" for this piece.  He asked me repeatedly to take a look at offensive line recruiting and depth issues.  While I haven't noticed many people inquiring about offensive line depth, Chip assured me a lot of people are worried about it.  I am not worried at all.  Here's why:

Ideally a team should have about 14 or 15 offensive linemen on the roster.  This allows for a two-deep (10) and 4/5 extra players.  Often some of those 4/5 will be redshirting.  Offensive line depth is key but not for rotation purposes.  No, offensive line depth is crucial because there is a heavy attrition rate at this position from year to year and injuries happen frequently.  The number will obviously vary from season to season as the team will need to adjust for graduation.  Another thing to consider is the general preference for playing older linemen.  These big-framed kids take time to grow into their bodies.  Unless the kid is a phenom, you don't want to start him until he has two years in the system (redshirt sophomore or true junior).  Rick Trickett rebuilt the offensive line from what was accurately described as "the absolute worst offensive line of any school in a BCS conference (64 teams)."  It's now one of the best in the country and could be the nation's best this year.   And he did it with true freshmen, remarkably.     Let's have a look at the line's makeup for the coming 2010 season.  Projected starters are in bold.

Rodney Hudson Andrew Datko Rhonne Sanderson (Rs) Henry Orelus (Rs)
Ryan McMahon Zebrie Sanders Antwane Greenlee
Garrett Faircloth (Rs)

David Spurlock Blake Snider (Rs) Bryan Stork (Rs)
Andrew "AJ" Ganguzza (Rs)
Dan Foose
Antwane Greenlee (Rs )

If FSU doesn't take an offensive lineman, they will go into the season with 13.  As I said, having around 14 is ideal and 13 is only one off of that mark.  Personally, if FSU lands the 6'4" 275lb Bjoern Werner, I expect him to play offensive line.  He has a nasty streak, is a hard worker, and has an excellent bone structure that would allow him to play at 300lbs.  If FSU lands Werner and he plays offensive line, FSU would have 14 linemen on the roster.  As you can see, there is no reason to worry.  But recruiting isn't only about filling immediate need but also about planning for depth down the road.  And for that, we take a look at 2011.  

Andrew Datko (LT)
Rhonne Sanderson (G)
Henry Orelus (Rs) (C)
Bjoern Werner (rs)
Zebrie Sanders (RT)
Antwane Greenlee (rs & MedRs)  Garrett Faircloth (Rs)
Recruit Trey Pettis 6'5" 285 lbs as Junior.  current commit
David Spurlock (G)
Blake Snider (Rs) Recruit
Andrew "A.J." Ganguzza (rs)
Bryan Stork (Rs) Recruit

Recruit (maybe)

Recruit (only if Werner doesn't come or plays defense)

* I expect attrition of 1 off the returning players, just to be safe.  In 2011 FSU should have a two-deep at offensive line, all of which have had two years in the program.  FSU should have 3 senior starters, 1 junior starter, and a redshirt sophomore starter.  FSU will take between 3 and 5 offensive linemen next year.  3 would only occur if Werner comes in as an offensive lineman and there is no attrition.  On the other hand, if FSU does lose a player to attrition and Werner does not come or comes in as a defender, FSU could take 5 (though I think that is unlikely and unnecessary).  I would expect all of the incoming recruits to redshirt.  That's quite the luxury.

Because of the excellent play of FSU's current offensive line and the resulting NFL rewards that will soon be bestowed upon those guys, recruits have taken notice.  While not every kid will want to play for Trickett, some really do.  FSU had a tough time recruiting offensive linemen this year.  Some of that was a result of the 'Noles being picky.  I believe that a lot of it, however, was that the premiere offensive linemen saw that FSU wasn't losing a single starter off an excellent unit and has good depth at the position.  I do know that FSU loves its offensive line prospects in next year's class.  And FSU won't be landing no-name kids.  They already have a commitment from Trey Pettis, a 6'5" 280lb junior from Deland.  Pettis has already accepted an invite to the Under Armour All-America HS All-Star game.  He also received interest from UGA, UF, Clemson, and Tennessee.  And they're in on several other big name kids as well.

I won't do a chart for 2012, but FSU projects to have a starting lineup comprised completely of redshirted Juniors and Seniors.  In 2013, FSU might have to start one redshirt sophomore.

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