With just a couple of weeks remaining in spring practice for most teams, some notable holes are obvious. Let’s take a look at five significant holes on a few rosters and project capable replacements.
Out with the old, and in with the new.
Out: Barrett Jones (graduated)
In: Ryan Kelly
Barrett Jones leaves Alabama as one of the most decorated offensive linemen in the history of college football, and his backup, Ryan Kelly, assumes the most important position under the microscope for the Tide. Not only did Alabama lose three offensive linemen, but they lost position coach Jeff Stoutland, too. Kelly played in just nine games last year, but he’s already making an impact on the club this spring. Cyrus Kouandjio provided a ringing endorsement of Kelly, saying, “He’s the most professional person I know…I trust him 100 percent.”
Out: Xavier Nixon (graduated)
In: DJ Humphries
Anytime a senior left tackle graduates or leaves early for the NFL, it’s a big deal. In this case, Xavier Nixon doesn’t leave behind a big void because he was a great player, but rather he had a lot of game experience at the most important position on the offensive line. However, his primary backup, DJ Humphries, has a chance to be All-SEC at left tackle. Humphries was a little light as a freshman at 275 pounds, but he’s added weight and has all the athleticism to be a top-flight tackle. Humphries was the No. 1 overall offensive lineman and No. 2 overall player in the 2012 recruiting class, and he’s ready to be the anchor on an improving Florida line.
Out: Jarvis Jones (draft)
In: Jordan Jenkins
Jarvis Jones’ production at Georgia is mind-boggling. He registered 28 sacks and 44 tackles for loss in just two All-American seasons. But his backup Jordan Jenkins will be just as good, if not better. A stretch? Maybe, but based on Jenkins’ freshman season, where he registered five sacks with minimum playing time, I feel comfortable with stepping out on that limb. Only time will tell, but Georgia is in great hands with Jenkins waiting in the wings.
Out: Kevin Minter (draft)
In: Lamin Barrow
Kevin Minter’s 130 total tackles, 15 tackles for loss and four-sack season was one of the best the country had to offer in 2012. However, LSU should replace Minter with rising senior Lamin Barrow. Barrow finished second in tackles with 104 and 7.5 tackles for loss as the weakside linebacker. And he’s experienced and knows John Chavis’ defense. Barrow can either play inside or outside, but he’s LSU’s weathered veteran to command the middle in Minter’s absence.
Out: Luke Joeckel (draft)
In: Jake Matthews
The former Outland Trophy winner Luke Joeckel may be the first pick in this month’s NFL Draft, but it’s not out of the question that Jake Matthews could give the Aggies back-to-back Outland Trophy winners and become the first linemen selected in next year’s draft. Matthews slides over from right tackle, where he has dominated in his three-year career. He has 33 consecutive starts dating back to his freshman season, and he’ll be a boss this season.
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