The Bears entered the 2012 offseason with two big holes to fill on the offensive line; Right Guard and Center. In the late recruiting stages, the Bears went after several interior linemen that I am sure the staff hoped would come in and make an immediate impact. However, the Bears lost the commitment of Dionte Savage late to Oklahoma, and then signee Tyler Edwards did not make it to campus in time for the second semester as originally thought (thought is a widely assumed that he will be in Waco for the fall this year). With those two big losses, the Bears turned to Kelvin Palmer to man the Center position and Desmine Hilliard for Right Guard.
When Troy Baker hurt his knee seriously during the spring though, Palmer was moved out to the right tackle position with Stephan Huber inserted into the starting lineup at Center. All of this juggling and new names and faces have the interior line a big question mark for the Bears, outside of one of the best guards in the nation in Cyril Richardson. The two-deep right now has a lot of inexperience and projects on it for those three spots, including two of the more interesting projectable lineman to come to play for Baylor under Art Briles.
Both of the primary backups at the guard position have traits and characteristics you want in a prototypical guard. However, both have very interesting backgrounds that brought them to Waco. To say that Great Britain isn't a familiar recruiting stop for college football coaches would be an understatement, but that is where the Bears plucked Jason Osei, a 26 year old Londoner who has very limited experience with American Football. The former rugby player though has shot up the depth chart after shuffling back and forth between the offensive and defensive lines during his redshirt year in 2012. But at 6-4 and 315 pounds with excellent strength and athleticism, you can see what drew the Baylor staff to this young man.
The other backup is LaQuan McGowan, a monster of a man at 6-7 and 375 pounds. The sophomore from Amarillo, TX is as big as they come in pads. He is bigger than you could imagine, and even looks bigger than 375 pounds. He is as strong as any player on the team, benching 475 pounds last year. McGowan while dressing for several games last year has yet to play for the Bears. He will be depended on to be a primary backup this year though.
With two seniors on the two deep between the three positions, and not a single junior on the roster right now, there is a lot of inexperienced youth that will be depended on to step forward. The primary backup at the center position is Kyle Fuller, a three-star redshirt freshman from Wylie, TX. Depth could be coming in the fall though, but all three players are just maybe's right now. Tyler Edwards, a JUCO transfer from Blinn was supposed to be here in the spring, but never made it to campus. At first, we were hearing there was a mutual parting of ways after Edwards didn't make it, but it seems that with the lack of experienced depth, and the loss of Troy Baker for the year possibly, there is an added need for a player like Edwards to at least supply depth.
In addition to Edwards, there are question marks on both high school signees the Bears had for the guard position in the 2013 class. Teammates Darius Moore and Maurice Porter from Missouri City, TX are both question marks to make it to Baylor this year. There is still time to get the necessary work done, but as of now, the 2013 recruiting class could be a complete an utter miss for the offensive line. That will hurt depth this year a bit, but really impact how the Bears recruit the next few seasons.
For the 2014 class, there is already one spot and possibly two spots taken for the inside of the line. We already spoke about Josh Pelzel and his ability to play inside and outside, so he is still up in the air as to where the Baylor staff will slot him. Right now, I have him as a tackle, but the commitment of another tackle could push Pelzel inside. Devonte Jones has no question mark of where he will play for the Bears. He looks like a guard all the way. A 3-star recruit at the moment, Jones is a mauler at the guard spot, and really attacks from his position. He needs to get better technique and much better at pulling and moving to the second level, but you can tell he is a guard all the way.
Overall, I feel strongly about the ability of the three starters on the inside of the line for the Bears. Richardson is one of the best linemen in the country, while Huber is an experienced backup who I think will step in nicely at center. Hilliard as some decent experience and should be solid as well. After those three though, there are very big question marks for the Bears, and if another injury hits on the offensive line, the vaunted Baylor offense could take a step back in 2013.
The interior line of the Bears has long been known as a strength of the squad, especially at the center position with two recent graduates playing in the NFL. What do we expect from the guard and center position in 2013?