Editor’s note: The Collegian is taking an inside look at the position battles that have developed during spring football practices. One offensive and one defensive position are being looked at.
Four players. One spot.
For positions that don’t usually attract too much attention, the vacancies left in the wake of graduating offensive line members Albert Bimper, Mike Brisiel and Brandon Alconcel are very much in the spotlight this spring.
The most intriguing position battle shaping up this spring for the Ram offense is at the left guard spot, where four capable players are all trying to do whatever it takes to set them apart from the others.
“We’re looking for a real physical guard who can explode off the line and create space for the run game,” said offensive coordinator Dan Hammerschmidt. “That’s something [returning starters] Clint Oldenburg and Josh Day are good at. We can teach these guys how to pass protect. What we want is a physical run-blocker on every play.”
Sophomore Dan Crews and redshirt freshman Adrian Martinez have shown the most potential this spring and figure to fight for the starting role up to the first snap of the season.
“If we had a game tomorrow, we’d have to flip a coin between Martinez and Crews for the start,” said Hammerschmidt.
Martinez said the battle for playing time could last even longer than the spring and summer.
“(Starting positions) can be won at any time,” he said. “You can be playing well one day and someone can rise up over you and take your spot – during the off season and the season.”
Senior Jerome Williams and junior college transfer Marvin Arnold also hope to get in at left guard.
Williams saw time last year and was expected to be a starter this year, but an off-season knee surgery has kept him from practicing with the team and has allowed the younger guys to catch up.
With the competition so close, it may come down to how well Williams is able to return to his pre-surgery form, and how quickly the younger players can put an end to mental mistakes.
“I think we’re all trying to learn right now,” said Martinez. “I don’t have it down to an art yet. I want to get to the point where I can feel comfortable on every play.”
Hammerschmidt said the top two will be assigned to the left guard position, while the others may be forced to open themselves to the idea of moving down the line, possibly to play tackle.
For most of the players, that’s a sacrifice they would be willing to make if it meant more time on the field, and less on the bench.
“I played tackle in high school,” Martinez said. “To be honest I don’t see myself back there, but if I had to I would. I’d do anything.”
The Green and Gold game will take place at French Field at Rocky Mountain High School Saturday morning at 11 a.m.