O-line leadership plays pivotal role in upcoming campaign

WKU freshman offensive lineman R.J. Scaife (71, right) goes head to head with another WKU offensive lineman during the team’s open practice Wednesday April 1, 2015 at L.T. Smith Stadium. (Luke Franke/Herald)

Billy Rutledge

The trenches, or the offensive and defensive line, are something that the Hilltoppers see as a strength on their team this season. The entire starting defensive line will be returning in 2015 and the offensive trenches will only lose two players, center Derrick Stark and right tackle Cameron Clemmons.

“We still have a lot to improve and build upon last year, but I feel like we are all coming together,” redshirt junior tackle Forrest Lamp said. “After these next few weeks, we should be a formidable line.”

WKU currently has 15 offensive lineman suited up in spring practice. The three returning starters for the Hilltoppers are left tackle Lamp, left guard redshirt-sophomore Brandon Ray and right guard redshirt-junior Darrell Williams. The two vacant spots, center and right tackle, are being competed for between 12 players- seven freshman, two sophomores and four juniors.

“The young guys are showing a lot of improvement from day one,” Lamp said. “The guys coming from high school are real raw, but they look good, and they are stepping up and improving.”

Offensive line coach Neil Callaway said more senior players are reaching out to the younger teammates.

“We got some older guys that are doing a good job being mentors and leaders to the young guys,” Offensive line coach Neil Callaway said. “We have others that need to do better.”

The center position is one that must remain in constant communication with the offensive line and the quarterback. One of the most important positions on the high powered offense of WKU is up in the air between two different players: redshirt-junior Max Halpin and redshirt-freshman Dennis Edwards. Currently, Edwards leads the race as Halpin returns from injury.

“It all starts with the snap,” Callaway said. “It all starts with having a good center-quarterback exchange. Then, out line of scrimmage, we all have to make calls and do things, but it all starts with the center.”

The right tackle position is in competition now—the only players that recorded a start at the position last year were Clemmons and Williams. With Clemmons gone, and Williams filling the guard position, right tackle will be an interesting development for WKU during spiring practice.