Part of a position-by-position look at Navy football this spring
NAVY OFFENSIVE LINE
Starters returning (2): LG Josh Cabral (12 starts), T Andrew Barker (6 starts)
Other notable returnees: T Graham Vickers (3 starts)
Starters lost (3): C Brady DeMell (graduation; 12 starts), RG John Dowd (graduation; 12 starts), RT Ryan Basford (graduation; 12 starts)
Other notable departures: T David Sumrall (graduation; 3 starts)
Emerging names to know: C Bradyn Heap (sophomore), G Jake Zuzek (sophomore), C Kahikolu Pescaia (senior)
Career starts returning: 34 (Cabral 25, Barker 6, Vickers 3)
Career starts lost: 79 (DeMell 27, Dowd 26, Basford 23, Sumrall 3)
This got covered a bit in a dead-tree edition story earlier in the week, but here’s the quick recap:
The one rock-solid guy on Navy’s offensive line is left guard Josh Cabral, who is line to become a three-year starter (the Midshipmen’s first on the offensive line since Jeff Battipaglia from 2008 to 2010).
Navy got a look at both of its likely starting tackles after David Sumrall suffered an early-season concussion. Junior Graham Vickers started the last three games at left tackle and is penciled into the same position this spring. Senior Andrew Barker started a half-dozen games at left tackle, but is working on the right side now.
Then there are sophomores Bradyn Heap and Jake Zuzek. Heap hasn’t played in a game. Nearly all of Zuzek’s work last year came on special teams. Both are listed as starters, at center and right guard, respectively.
After that … well, that’s anyone’s guess.
Take a look at Navy’s three-deep from its season finale against Army last year (which admittedly has a few guys listed twice). Take out the graduated players and the likely starters and how many guys are left?
That’s not a misprint. Senior Kahikolu Pescaia is the only offensive lineman from the final 2011 three-deep who is listed as a reserve this spring. It goes without saying Navy has plenty of questions about its offensive line backups, and even the four starters besides Cabral aren’t entirely sure things.
The link above highlights Heap and Zuzek in particular, and it is a good sign the sophomores could settle in as foundations of Navy’s line for a couple years to come.
But it also highlights the Mids’ staff felt better about them than any rising juniors who were blocked from earning large roles by the presence of four multi-year starters last season.
Vickers is the only junior with any extensive experience. Plenty more are listed as backups and third-stringers this spring. Getting two or three get to progress to game-readiness —- which appears to be a necessity considering their absence from the depth chart just a few months ago —- would probably reduce the anxiety about the always-important unit.
—- Patrick Stevens