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Pitt Fall Camp Preview: Offensive Line

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Breaking down the men up front heading into Fall camp.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
  • Carson Baker 6'5" 325 Sophomore Guard (Appeared in 11 games in 2014)
  • Adam Bisnowaty 6'6" 300 Junior Tackle (Started 10 games in 2014)
  • Alex Bookser 6'6" 310 Freshman Tackle (Redshirted in 2014)
  • Alex Galiyas 6'2" 270 Freshman Guard (Walk-on/Redshirted in 2014)
  • Mike Grimm 6'6" 325 Freshman Tackle (Redshirted in 2014)
  • John Guy 6'7" 310 Junior Tackle (Appeared in 12 games in 2014)
  • Mike Herndon 6'4" 305 Freshman Guard (Redshirted in 2014)
  • Dorian Johnson 6'5" 300 Junior Guard (Started 13 Games in 2014)
  • Jaryd Jones-Smith 6'7" 335 Sophomore Tackle (Started 3 Games and appeared in all 13 in 2014)
  • Brian O'Neill 6'6" 270 Freshman Tackle (Redshirt in 2014; Converted tight end)
  • Alex Officer 6'4" 335 Sophomore Center (Started 10 Games and appeared in all 13 in 2014)
  • Alex Paulina 6'3" 200 Freshman Center (Incoming three-star recruit)
  • Tony Pilato 6'5" 315 Freshman Tackle (Incoming three-star recruit)
  • Gabe Roberts 6'5" 300 Junior Center (Started 1 game and appeared in 10 games in 2014)
  • Aaron Reese 6'5" 315 Sophomore Guard (Appeared in one game in 2014)
  • Artie Rowell 6'2" 310 Senior Center (Started two games in 2014 before season ending injury)

Projected Starters - Alex Bookser, Alex Officer, Artie Rowell, Dorian Johnson, Adam Bisnowaty

Pitt returns four guys with starting experience up front, and should have another solid crew paving the way for James Conner and company once again.  The unit will have to shuffle things around a tad without Jaryd Jones-Smith, but they have the personnel to make it work.

Despite all the talk about Alex Officer at center, there's a chance that Artie Rowell regains his starting spot there. After starting every game in 2013 and the first two last year, an injury forced him to miss the rest of the season. He is a smart and experienced player up front and is a good anchor for the team.  With Rowell getting back into the mix, that could move Alex Officer to guard.  Officer could certainly stay at center, but moving Rowell back there makes sense as well.

On the left side, former four-star recruit, Adam Bisnowaty is back at tackle after being the starter there the past two seasons. He is a steady player with talent and experience.  Joining him on that side will be former five-star recruit, Dorian Johnson at guard.  Johnson started every game last season and is another talented player and helps make this one of the better offensive line units in the ACC.

With the injury to Jones-Smith, I look for redshirt freshman, Alex Bookser, to step into a starting role. He is another former four-star recruit that is from the area. He may be able to step in at right tackle, but there are some other options depending on both centers starting this season.


Projected Backups - Aaron Reese, Carson Baker, Gabe Roberts, Mike Herndon, John Guy

Gabe Roberts will serve as the backup center, but they have two options there in the starting lineup already. Roberts has some game experience the past two seasons, but has dealt with injuries in his career.

Aaron Reese and John Guy will serve as the two reserve tackles. Reese played sparingly last season, while Guy was a regular on special teams blocking sets.  Guy is a former walk-on that earned a scholarship during his time at Pitt, both of these guys will have to fend off redshirt freshman Mike Grimm for their spot on the two-deep depth chart.

Carson Baker was a regular on special teams and will be one of the backup guards. Mike Herndon will likely take a spot as backup guard this season as well. Herndon redshirted last season, but he also worked as a defensive tackle. It will be interesting to see his development switching sides of the ball.

The Rest - Alex Galiyas, Mike Grimm, Brian O'Neill, Alex Paulina, Tony Pilato

Alex Galiyas is the lone walk-on among the linemen. He is also considerably smaller than the other guys at his position. Checking in at 6'2" 270 pounds, he is noticeably smaller than everyone else.  He is around for depth purposes, and likely won't see a lot of time this season.

Mike Grimm could crack the two-deep for sure, and he needs to have a strong camp as he is the type of player that could work his way into a bigger role. Grimm is a massive presence, and as a highly-touted recruit, could be a real force for Pitt in the future.

Brian O'Neill has recently made the move to offensive line from tight end.  He is a big kid, and can easily make the move to the line. He will be more athletic than the average linemen, and could be a wild card down the line.  I think 2015 will be more of a learning curve, but could factor into the race next year.

Tony Pilato and Alex Paulina are both solid recruits coming into the program, but neither is a can't miss guy that has to play right away. Pitt has very good depth built up here from the previous staff, and these two will be able to redshirt and acclimate themselves slowly into the program.

Injury - Jaryd Jones-Smith

Jaryd Jones-Smith was expected to be a starting tackle this season, but was ruled out for the year with a right knee injury in the offseason.  Jones-Smith was a big part of last season's offensive line. Despite not being a full-time starter, he did get the nod in three games and was the first linemen rotated in every game and played regularly. He is the team's biggest player, and his presence will sorely be missed. The sophomore lineman has serious NFL potential, so you hope he can recover without issue and be ready to go in 2016.