2003 Preview: Offensive Line

Jake Grove

The biggest question mark of the 2003 Hokie football team is the offensive line. Subpar line play has plagued Tech in parts of the last 2 seasons, and there must be improvement in this area if the Hokies hope to run the table. Let's take a look at the individual players along the front line for the Hokies...

Left Tackle
Jimmy Martin, So. (6-5 291)
Martin started half the season last year as a true freshman. He worked hard in the offseason and put on 20 pounds. He's played very well in practice thus far. He's going to be a very good lineman for Virginia Tech. The question is, how soon? Bryan Randall and Marcus Vick hope the answer is this year, because Martin will be protecting their blind side.

Reggie Butler, So. (6-6 345)
Butler is a huge, imposing offensive tackle. He played a little bit in 2002 as a true freshman. He must continue to get stronger in the weight room, as well as develop quicker feet in pass protection. He'll be counted on to provide depth in 2003.

Tripp Carroll, Fr. (6-4 306)
Carroll was one of the highest recruited offensive linemen in the nation this past year. He enrolled at Tech in January and participated in Spring practice. However, a leg injury has sidelined him since preseason practice began. Depending on his recovery time, he could see time this season for the Hokies. If not, a redshirt will be in order. Nevertheless, Carroll has the potential to be a future star.

Left Guard
- Jacob Gibson, r-Sr. (6-3 299)
Gibson is a solid player for the Hokies up front. A very good run blocker, Gibson is a candidate for All-Big East awards this season. He and Jake Grove will be the leaders of the offensive line.

Will Montgomery, r-So. (6-3 300)
Montgomery is yet another walk on who has done well in the Tech football program. He does well in the weight room and will be a solid backup to Jacob Gibson in 2003. After that he will assume the starting role.

Danny McGrath, So. (6-2 300)
McGrath played center last season and probably should have taken a redshirt. He's another young offensive lineman that has the potential to have a bright future at Virginia Tech. He'll provide quality depth in 2003.

Center
Jake Grove, r-Sr. (6-3 300)

I like to call Jake Grove the most underrated player in college football. Until this year, he's never been mentioned for All-American honors. He's never even been a member of the All-Big East team! That will change this year, as Grove is possibly the best lineman in the conference, and maybe the best center in the country. He's got a future in the NFL, but first he's got a few more defensive lineman to pancake on the college level.

Robert Ramsey, r-Jr. (6-3 307)
Ramsey improved tremendously this past spring. He won't get a lot of playing time behind Jake Grove, but he's a quality player himself. He and Bryan Randall have got to get their timing down on snaps, as that has been a problem in the preseason.

Right Guard
Jim Miller, Jr. (6-5 300)

If Jim Miller can step up and play well in 2003, then the Hokies shouldn't have a problem running the ball up the middle. Tech already has a good left guard and an outstanding center. If Miller proves to be a good player, then its going to take a heck of a good interior defense to stop the Hokies ground game. Hopefully he'll rise to the challenge. It's Miller time.

Jason Murphy, r-So. (6-2 298)
Murphy played defensive tackle last season, and was moved to offensive guard before spring practice. He's handled the adjustment very well and the coaches seem to think he's got a bright future along the offensive line. Unfortunately, Murphy has an injured ankle and is on crutches. When he returns to full strength, he'll be a valuable player on the offensive line.

Brandon Gore, r-Fr. (6-5 332)
Gore was a highly recruited player that signed in 2002 with the Hokies. He took a redshirt year last year, and could possibly contribute this season. He must continue to work hard in the weight room. He's a guy that just needs some experience.

Right Tackle
Jon Dunn, r-Jr. (6-7 335)

A mammoth of a man, Jon Dunn has established himself as a good run blocker on the offensive line for the Hokies. However his pass protection has been less than stellar, and that lead to him being benched in favor of Jimmy Martin mid way through 2002. Dunn has improved, but how much? We'll find out shortly.

Chris Pannell, r-So. (6-3 279)
This will be Pannell's first season as an offensive lineman. Last season he played defensive tackle for the Hokies. He hasn't made the transition as well as Jason Murphy, but he's doing alright. Another year in the weight room and adding some pounds will help him.

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