Editor's Note: This is the fourth installment of an eight-part series produced by the FSU Athletics Communications Office looking at different position groups as the Bulldogs prepare for their 2009 season opener on Saturday, Aug. 29, against Tiffin at Top Taggart Field.
Big Rapids, Mich. - Its often been said in the game of football
that an offense is only as good as its offensive line.
With four of five starters returning from last campaign, the Ferris State University football team's offensive line should be a good one in 2009.
The right-side returns intact on the line of scrimmage with Joe Doman (Ann Arbor/Whitmore Lake) and Brad Bammert (Flushing) at right guard and tackle, respectively. After seeing limited action as freshmen in 2006, both have made 22 consecutive starts up front over the last two seasons and give the Bulldogs one of the better tandems in the league.
Regarded as a hard worker, Bammert is expected to be one of the squad's leaders in 2009 and is a capable run blocker who's also good in pass protection. Doman moved to guard last season after starting at center in 2007 and is an intelligent player who moves well along with being a powerful run blocker.
On the backside, the Bulldogs should have one of the league's best in junior left tackle Matt Wellman (Portland), who attained All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Honorable Mention accolades a year ago. The two-year starter was honored as FSU's Most Valuable Offensive Lineman last season.
The fourth returning starter, junior Scott Shattuck (Lowell/Ionia), was in the lineup for all 11 games at center in 2008. He spent the spring working with the defensive line, but was moved back to the offensive side of the ball prior to fall camp and will battle for time at the guard position.
"Our offensive line has a number of starters back and another
year of experience under their belts," said FSU head coach
Jeff Pierce. "They should be a more athletic
group this season and that will allow us to do more things on the
offensive side of the ball."
A local product, sophomore Jake Hancock (Big Rapids), is vying to be the starter at center as is redshirt freshman Taylor Phillips (Orion/Lake Orion), who also has the ability to play at tight end, and fellow redshirt freshman Clark Wright (Elkhart, Ind./Central).
Junior Joe Voiles (Flushing/Grand Blanc) has seen time as a valuable reserve in the past and is a quality player with experience who should challenge for more time this campaign and a possible starting role.
"Several of the guys we return up front really performed well in the spring and have taken steps up into leadership roles on this team," Offensive Coordinator Matt McCarthy said.
Two other redshirt freshmen, Trevor Smolinski (Battle Creek/Marshall) and Taylor Sprague (Saranac/Lowell), are also among the candidates to see action up front after productive first years in the program. Smolinski was the recipient of the Tomorrow's Team Offensive Player of the Year Award for his work last fall. Sophomore Rich Rosenberg (Traverse City/West), among others, has been around the program for a couple of years and could help provide depth as the year goes.
The Bulldogs also placed a focus on the offensive line during the recruiting period and several incoming freshmen should help provide depth up front and contend for time as reserves.
Next Installment: The "Countdown To Kickoff" series will resume on Friday (Aug. 21) with a look at the defensive line.