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Senior Jon Halapio is the veteran among Florida's returning offensive linemen.

Monday March 11, 2013Gators Spring Preview: Offensive Line

Senior Jon Halapio is the veteran among Florida's returning offensive linemen.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The offensive line has been a work in progress since the day Gators coach Will Muschamp arrived.

In Muschamp’s first season the Gators were so thin up front that they brought in sixth-year senior Dan Wenger, who spent five injury-plagued seasons at Notre Dame, over the summer and Wenger started 11 games. A slimmed-down Wenger is now a Gators graduate assistant.

As the Gators prepare for their third spring practice under Muschamp, the offensive line’s outlook has improved significantly the past two years. While Muschamp envisions more depth in the future, the unit is not nearly as rag-tagged as it was his first season.

The Gators return senior right guard Jon Halapio, whose 33 career starts are more than any player on the roster, and starting center Jonotthan Harrison, who has started 26 consecutive games over the past two seasons.

The starting left side of the line last season – left tackle Xavier Nixon and left guard James Wilson – has moved on.

Sophomore D.J. Humphries is the projected starter at left tackle entering spring practice. Humphries (6-foot-5, 280 pounds) started three games as a true freshman and was one of the top prep offensive linemen prospects in the country coming out of Mallard Creek High in Charlotte, N.C.

Redshirt junior Max Garcia (6-5, 307) transferred from Maryland and sat out the 2012 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Garcia started at left tackle for Maryland in 2011 and is considered the front-runner to replace Wilson at left guard when camp opens.

Garcia has been in the program for a full year and knows the calls and schemes used by second-year offensive line coach Tim Davis.

Redshirt junior Chaz Green started 10 games at right tackle last season and figures to get plenty of playing time in the fall. Muschamp said recently that Green underwent arthroscopic ankle surgery at the end of last season. Green is expected to be limited or out during spring practice.

Redshirt sophomore Tyler Moore is the leading candidate to take most of the reps at right tackle this spring. A former standout at Clearwater Countryside High, Moore (6-6, 312) started as a true freshman at Nebraska in 2011 and spent last year taking classes at St. Petersburg Community College while waiting to resume his football career at UF.

A key reserve on the offensive line is fifth-year senior Kyle Koehne, also known as Mr. Versatile. Koehne can play all five spots along the line but should see the bulk of his playing time inside if the tackles stay healthy.

Redshirt sophomore Trip Thurman (6-5, 313) is set to back up Humphries at left tackle this spring. Thurman was a member of Muschamp’s first recruiting class in 2011 and had shoulder surgery early in the season and redshirted. He played in three games last season.

The status of left guard Jessamen Dunker (6-4, 300) is uncertain for spring practice. Dunker had off-the-field legal issues recently and was suspended from all team activities indefinitely by Muschamp.

Meanwhile, redshirt junior Ian Silberman continues to recover from shoulder surgery and is expected to miss spring practice. Silberman played in eight games last season, starting two at left guard.

While Moore is the only early enrollee offensive lineman in camp this spring, the Gators have more help on the way by fall.

Florida signed offensive linemen Trenton Brown (6-7, 345), Cameron Dillard (6-3, 280), Octavius Jackson (6-4, 275) and Roderick Johnson (6-5, 320) in the 2013 recruiting class. The Gators also added 6-foot-6, 265-pound Braden River High basketball standout Trevon Young late. Young has the size and athleticism to play on the offensive line or at tight end.

 

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