While sitting down to chat with Maryland offensive line coach Tom Brattan on media day, I mentioned part of our discussion would be an offensive line Q&A.
“Good,” he said with a laugh. “Tell me about them.”
Unlike other years, Brattan entered camp with a decent idea of what his line might look like, so there was plenty for him to say about the guys who sat atop the depth chart when the month began.
1. You’re able to move Bennett Fulper over to guard. How valuable is his versatility that he’s had since he got here?
TB: Huge. That’s a huge asset. You have a person who can play either guard or center inside, and that’s just such a tremendous plus. He’s such a sharp guy to start off with, and the guy’s like a 3.5 here and it’s not an easy school. He has really good ability, and I think he’s had a great summer.
2. De’Onte Arnett and his transition to offensive line, at this stage how well equipped do you think he is to chase after that full-time job?
TB: This should be his year. He’ll have been here two years in the offense. I think he had a great summer. His numbers lifting and running were very, very good. He looks like what a Division I offensive lineman is supposed to look like. It’s just a matter of doing it on a consistent basis. You watch him play the last game where he starts, there’s some times you feel like saying ‘Wow, that’s really, really good.’ Other times you’re saying ‘What are we thinking here?’ There just has to be some consistency with him, but he’s athletically gifted.
3. Justin Gilbert has been through the wringer here, how much of a stabilizing force do you think he can be now, especially since he’s 18 months or so removed from his last surgery and obviously a guy who’s been around the block here?
TB: I’m hoping he’s going to be a very big stabilizing force for us, just from a leadership role, having been in the fray. I think he confidence is his knee now to go ahead and play. I think with him on the right side, I’m looking for a good preseason from him and go on to have an outstanding senior year.
4. Nick Klemm has the edge going into camp at left tackle, but is there a possibility if Andrew Zeller looks good, he flips over to the left side?
TB: Nick’s there and he’s earned the position through his productivity in the spring. There are some other people who had good springs and good summers. I think the things is it’s going to be competitive out there at that position. You have Ryan Doyle coming to play, you might have Andrew Zeller come over there and play. Today, Nick’s our guy.
5. And with Sal Conaboy, how happy are you with what you saw in those two games at the end of last season?
TB: Good. Good. Very happy. I think that’s a good move for him. I think he’s gotten a little bit stronger and bigger, which I think he had to do. He has some experience now and played guard and played center. I think we have the makings for a good offensive line. We just have to make progress here in the preseason.
—- Patrick Stevens