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TCU Horned Frogs Football Position Preview: Offensive Line

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TCU is replacing a lot of talent across the offensive line in 2016. How quickly the new bodies adjust to being starters will impact how well the offense clicks this season.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

It's often an overlooked position when the previews start rolling out, and when a team is also looking to replace it's start quarterback, star wide receiver, and stud running back, offensive line almost fades completely out of the picture.

For TCU however, replacing four starters along the offensive line will be critical to how well the offense performs in 2016. The Frogs have said goodbye to Joey Hunt, Brady Foltz, Jamelle Naff, and Halapoulivaati Vaitai, and now they need to work to replace all four across the line.

TCU does seem to have a bit of depth along the line, with several guys making starts at key times over the past two seasons, so it's just a matter of who gets the nod at a few positions.

So, who will step up next to Joseph Noteboom and become the new anchor for TCU's lights out offense? Let's take a look. First, here's a list of all the OL on TCU's 2016 roster (courtesy of gofrogs.com):

Name Pos Ht Wt Class
Austin Schlottman C 6'6" 300 JR
Garret Altman C 6'6" 272 JR
Jozie Milton C 6'2" 310 RS FR
Patrick Morris OG 6'3" 300 JR
Nate Guyton OG 6'0" 290 FR
Cordel Iwuagwu OG 6'3" 298 RS FR
Chris Gaynor OG 6'5" 300 JR
Kellton Hollins OL 6'2" 291 FR
Austin Myers OL 6'5" 302 FR
Lucas Niang OL 6'6" 295 FR
Ty Barrett OL 6'5" 316 SO
Trey Elliott OT 6'4" 285 SO
David Bolisomi OT 6'6" 315 RS FR
Matt  Pryor OT 6'7" 350 JR
Joseph Noteboom OT 6'5" 315 JR
Aviante Collins OT 6'6" 305 SR
Ryan Griswold OT 6'5" 270 SO
Sam Awolope OT 6'6" 292 RS FR

So, let's go position by position and take a stab at who could fill the spots available.

Center

This one is probably the easiest to predict. When Joey Hunt went down with an injury late in the season, Austin Schlottman stepped up, and played very well for the last four games of the season (started at RG against Kansas, C against OU, Baylor, Oregon).

While he struggled in a few instances, those four starts should have the Frogs feeling good about Schlottman for this season. He's a capable center was asked to perform against some very solid defensive lines down the stretch, which he did admirably.

So, we'll pencil in Schlottman at starting center. Milton gets the nod as his backup.

Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle
Starter Austin Schlottman
Primary Backup Jozie Milton

Left Tackle

When LT Halapoulivaati Vaitai went down with a leg injury last season, Joseph Noteboom made the move from the right side to the left, with Matt Pryor sliding into the right tackle spot.

It's more than likely Noteboom begins the season at left tackle, replacing Big V. His backup could be one of several guys, but I'm going to plug Trey Elliot into this spot for now. Elliot seemed to get a bit of work at the LT position this spring, which makes him the leading candidate to be the backup at this spot.

Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle
Starter Joseph Noteboom Austin Schlottman
Primary Backup Trey Elliot Jozie Milton

Left Guard

Jamelle Naff was a great player, albeit somewhat underappreciated, and he worked incredibly well with the men next to him. When he went down with a season-ending injury, he was replaced by Brady Foltz, who shifted over from right guard. Matt Pryor took over Foltz's spot at right guard, and it seems like he'll stay on that side of the line.

There are several names to consider in this spot, and the first is Chris Gaynor, the Dodge City CC transfer who signed with TCU back in December. Despite being an offensive tackle at the JuCo level, Gaynor is listed as a guard on TCU's roster.

Second, we've got Cordell Iwuagwu, the redshirt freshman. He's been getting up to speed rather quickly this spring/summer, and should be a good depth player along the line. He's probably not ready to step into a starting role quite yet, though.

Another name to consider, and the one we are going to roll with as the starter, is Patrick Morris, who saw a good chunk of game time last season. Morris has good experience along the line, and started at the position for a good portion of the spring.

Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle
Starter Joseph Noteboom Patrick Morris Austin Schlottman
Primary Backup Trey Elliot Cordel Iwuagwu Jozie Milton

Right Guard

Matt Pryor should be the favorite to start at this position, but depending on how well Chris Gaynor gets up to speed, Gaynor could push for the starting role.

Pryor is massive, standing at 6-foot-7 and 350 pounds, which means if he puts his hands on you it's game over. However, he does seem to struggle a bit with speed rushers, which is why he seems to have transitioned to playing at guard rather than tackle.

He'll get the nod for now, but again, keep an eye on how Gaynor performs once camp gets started in a few weeks.

Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle
Starter Joseph Noteboom Patrick Morris Austin Schlottman Matt Pryor
Primary Backup Trey Elliot Cordel Iwuagwu Jozie Milton Chris Gaynor

Right Tackle

Aviante Collins is arguably the most experienced offensive lineman TCU has at this point, but Frog fans may have forgotten about him a bit since he went down against SMU. He received a medical redshirt, and is coming back as the only senior offensive lineman on TCU's roster.

Collins came in as a freshman in 2012 and was immediately tabbed as a starter during TCU's inaugural season in the Big 12. It was a massive task to give to a freshman, and Collins had his fair share of struggles. He began at left tackle, before being moved to right tackle to finish the season, and, while he had some very good moments, never looked completely confident.

The next few seasons saw him receive less playing time, before an injury knocked him out last year.

Now, though, Collins should have a shot at redemption, as he's the frontrunner to start at right tackle.

Left Tackle Left Guard Center Right Guard Right Tackle
Starter Joseph Noteboom Patrick Morris Austin Schlottman Matt Pryor Aviante Collins
Primary Backup Trey Elliot Cordel Iwuagwu Jozie Milton Chris Gaynor David Bolisomi

And there you have it. For a team replacing four starters along the line, it's nice to have depth in place to step up. If these guys play up to their potential and gel quickly as a unit, they'll lay a great foundation for the offense in 2016.