March 31, 2010
Spring Battles: Offensive Line
What Kent State's offensive line lacks in age it makes up for in experience.
When the Golden Flashes hit the turf at Dix Stadium on Monday for the start of spring practice they'll do so with an offensive line consisting of one freshman, two sophomores and two juniors. The second team is even younger with three freshmen and two sophomores.
Members of the first unit have combined to start 57 games over the past two seasons. The second team isn't as experienced. Only one player has started at least one game along the offensive line and only two saw action last season, one at tight end.
With senior tackle Pat Reedy sliding over to tight end for the spring, junior Chris Anzevino anchors the young unit. After redshirting in 2007, Anzevino, a 6-foot-2, 305-pounder, has started 24 straight games. Anzevino's backup, 6-foot-3, 289-pound sophomore Josh Kline is the only reserve with playing experience. He started three of the 12 games in which he played in 2009.
At right guard freshman newcomer Tom Pizzurro has been penciled in as the starter. The 6-foot-4, 285-pounder signed with Kent State out of Hargrave Military Academy. Pizzurro helped Fort Lauderdale's St. Thomas Aquinas High School finish the 2008 season at 15-0, earning the squad a mythical national high school championship.
"From what we've seen from Tom so far, we think he can help us right away at guard with his strength and explosiveness," said Kent State head coach Doug Martin.
Pizzurro's competition this spring comes mainly from redshirt freshman Tyler Arend, a 6-foot-5, 295-pounder. Arend was a three-year starter at Paulding High School in Ohio where he was named one of the Buckeye state's Top 100 prospects.
The left guard spot should be nailed down by junior Michael Fay. The 6-foot-4, 294-pounder from Allentown, Pa., has started 20 of the 21 games he has played in the past two seasons. Fay will be challenged this spring by redshirt freshman Max Plunkett, a 6-foot-8, 305-pounder from Dayton, Ohio. Plunkett was an all-Ohio honorable mention selection in 2008 after helping Archbishop Alter to win the Division IV state championship.
Sophomore Brian Winters made the most of his freshman season. The 6-foot-5, 320-pounder from Hudson, Ohio dominated camp and earned a starting spot. He started all 12 games in 2009. He returns to protect the left edge. His projected backup is sophomore Seamus Garvey, who was redshirted in 2008 and did not see action in 2009.
Sophomore Kent Cleveland is slotted to start at right tackle. The 6-foot-4, 294-pounder started one of the 11 games in which he appeared in 2009. He was redshirted in 2008. Cleveland's competition should come from sophomore Bryan Wagner, a 6-foot-5, 290-pounder from nearby Crestwood High School in Mantua. Wanger played in four games last season, all at tight end.
The starting unit averages about 6-foot-4, 300-pounds and four out of the five have plenty of game experience. If this unit can jell, and stay healthy, the Golden Flashes, with an offense that returns at least eight starters, could find a lot of success on the ground and through the air.
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