There are some big shoes to fill, quite literally, on CSU’s offensive line.
The 6-foot-5, 310-plus pounder Ty Sambrailo who anchored the Rams’ line in 2014 is now suiting up for the Denver Broncos. But even without the first-team All-Mountain West tackle, head coach Mike Bobo believes his new team’s depth up front.
“We’ve got three starters back and we’ve got some quality guys there,” Bobo said. “We probably have more depth than we have where I just came from. Not so much experience, but we have some big bodies. Big bodies that are athletic and can move.”
While offensive coordinator Will Friend is also excited about the depth up front, he is taking it one step at a time with the line.
“I think the first thing you have got to do is start with getting the best five guys,” Friend said.
According to the fall camp depth chart, that would be LT Sam Carlson, LG Zach Golditch, C Kevin O’Brien, RG Fred Zerblis and RT Nick Callender.
Carlson will make the move from RT to replace Sambrailo at LT. As the oldest member of the line, he said that he is embracing the challenge of facing the best pass rusher that the opponent has to offer every Saturday.
“I’m going to do my best to take care of my business and do my job and get my job done,” Carlson said. “That’s something that Ty was very good at.”
Callender is slated to fill in for Carlson’s old spot on the right, but that could change if redshirt sophomore Jake Bennett is good to go for the season opener.
Bennett started three games at center for CSU in 2014 before suffering a knee injury during a bye-week practice in September that would keep him out for the rest of the season. If he is good to go by Sept. 5, he could start at center and O’Brien could shift to the right.
Zach Stefo and Trae Moxley have the size to play this year as well, so there is definitely no shortage of talent.
No matter who establishes themselves as a starter by the opener, Bobo and Friend are both optimistic that they have as many as eight starting caliber linemen on the roster.
“Those guys are setting the tempo for practice, so I’m really excited about the line of scrimmage,” Bobo said.
Bobo pointed out that whether it is Nick Stevens or Coleman Key who is named the starting quarterback, CSU’s shot caller will be young and therefore needs all of the protection they can get. That starts with the offensive line.
Friend said he wants to see a player-led football team, and expects that to start with his linemen as well.
“I’ve always believed that if you can get leadership from your offensive line, your football team is going to be led the right way,” Friend said. “Because they don’t get to touch the football, you don’t get a lot of stories about it, so their goals are going to be team-driven.”
Collegian Sports Editor Emmett McCarthy can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @emccarthy22.