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UConn Football Positional Preview: Offensive Line

Is this the year the offensive line finally comes together for the Huskies?

Ian Bethune - The UConn Blog

For the past few seasons, the offensive line has mostly been an unmitigated disaster. However, with a new offense designed to get the ball out quick and new offensive line coach JB Grimes, along with a host of experienced returning players, it should take a step forward this season. The question is, will that step be enough to make the line serviceable?

Starters

Matt Peart - RS SO - Bronx, New York

After beating out incumbent starter Richard Levy last season, Matt Peart is in his second season as UConn’s left tackle. He impressed Randy Edsall this spring, leading the head coach to say he’s going to coach him like Will Beatty, a second-round pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.

Trey Rutherford - SR - Markham, Ontario

Rutherford has seen time in each of his three seasons at UConn, but this year will be his first as a full-time starter, where he’ll play right guard. After playing 10 games along the offensive line as a true freshman in 2014, Rutherford got on the field as a fullback in his sophomore season, where he started against Temple. Last season, Rutherford played in every game, starting seven.

Ryan Crozier - RS JR - Plantation, Florida

Crozier is the anchor in the middle of the Huskies offensive line. He missed his redshirt freshman year with a leg injury but bounced back last season, starting all 12 games. He projects to be UConn’s best offensive lineman this season.

Cam DeGeorge - RS FR - Lynnfield, Massachusetts

The newest starter on the offensive line, Cam DeGeorge came to Storrs in the class of 2016 as a two-star recruit. At 6-foot-6, 286 pounds, DeGeorge certainly has the size to play the position. He’s also flanked by two of the Huskies most experienced starters, giving him the best chance to succeed early on.

Tommy Hopkins - RS SR - Hawthorne, New York

No player has bigger shoes to fill — Both literally and figuratively — than Hopkins at right tackle. The position was previously manned by the 6-foot-8 Andreas Knappe, who is currently in training camp with the Atlanta Falcons.

Hopkins started all 12 games as a redshirt sophomore at left guard but started just three last season. While tackle is a new position for him at UConn, his 6-foot-6, 300-pound frame gives him a great chance of success.

Backups

Brendan Vechery - RS SR - Ashburn, Virginia

After filling in capably for the injured Crozier in 2015, Vechery only saw the field last season as a fill-in due to injury which is the same role he projects to play this season. Despite being listed as the backup to Peart at left tackle, Vechery has the versatility to play multiple spots on the line, making him a good insurance policy should any position go down to injury.

Nino Leone - RS FR - Middletown, Massachusetts

A member of the class of 2016, Leone came to UConn as a two-star prospect. At 6-foot-6, 316 pounds, he has great size for the position and is a candidate to start in 2018 and beyond.

Daniel Oak - RS JR - Fort Myers, Florida

Despite going into his fourth season with the Huskies, Daniel Oak has only seen action in one game. After playing against UCF (in the ConFLiCT) as a sophomore, Oak has yet to play since. It would likely take an injury to Crozier for Oak to see the field this season.

Steve Hashemi - SR - Trumbull, Connecticut

Over the past two seasons, Hashemi has seen action in 20 games with just one start — at tight end — in the St. Petersburg Bowl, where he caught a pass for 10 yards.

Ryan Van Demark - FR - Princeton, New Jersey

The only true freshman to be listed on the two-deep depth chart, it’s unclear if Van Demark would actually see action if Hopkins went down with an injury. It would feel like a waste of a redshirt if he were to only see action for a handful of snaps this season.

Reserves

Robert Holmes - FR - West Palm Beach, Florida

Holmes flashed potential during camp, getting some reps at right guard, but will likely redshirt the season. A year in UConn’s strength and conditioning program will do him good and he could make his way onto the two-deep next season.

James Tunstall - FR - Indian Head, Maryland

Like his fellow classmate Robert Holmes, James Tunstall will likely redshirt the season to get an extra year of development. He is one of four offensive linemen in the Huskies’ class of 2017.

Bryan Cespedes - RS SO - New London, Connecticut

A Connecticut native, Cespedes saw action against Temple last season. He only began playing football as a sophomore in high school, but at 6-foot-7, 317 pounds, he could be a late bloomer for the Huskies.

Stanley Hubbard III - FR - Chevy Chase, Washington D.C.

One of the last players to commit to UConn under the previous regime, Hubbard hails from a power program in the DC area and aspires to work in an NFL front office.

Kyle Schafenacker - RS SR - Cooper City, Florida

Last season was the first time Schafenacker saw action in his college career, appearing in eight games. He will likely see similar time on special teams this season.

Ian Campbell - RS SO - Pompton Plains, New Jersey

Campbell originally came to UConn as a tight end but converted to the offensive line. After not seeing any action last season, he is a developmental prospect for the Huskies.

Harrison Newman - RS FR - West Hartford, Connecticut

A walk-on from Hall High School, Newman was named to the AAC All-Academic Team this past year.

Previous Positional Previews

Defensive Line

Linebackers

Defensive Backs

Offensive Backfield (QB/RB)