Georgia State will need to improve in a lot of areas in order to turn around last year's 3-8 season. This series will identify five players that could be candidates to have a breakout season for Georgia State and give them a push in a certain area. The players highlighted must have started fewer than 6 games for the Panthers, but also were on the team last season. The third player featured in this series is offensive tackle Ulrick John.
Position: Left Tackle
2011 Review: Started four games at three different positions. He filled in at left tackle when Clyde Yandell was injured to start the season, and started at center against Houston when Ben Jacoby went down. Then left guard Joseph Gilbert was suspended for the Murray State game, so John filled in there. John played in 10 games overall and was one of the Panther's most reliable options all season.
Spring 2012: The common theme of spring camp was that this year's offensive line will be much more athletic than the group has been the last two years. It doesn't take long to realize that John is one of the big reasons for that assertion. One of his fellow linemen told me that he is so athletic that he could play tight end if he wanted to and be incredibly successful. At 6'8 and 290 pounds that would be quite the sight as John moves incredibly well despite his size. John was one by far one of the best lineman on the field during spring.
2012 Depth Chart: John has the left tackle spot on lockdown. He will be backed up by senior Gabriel Hampton, but hopefully John is able to stay healthy.
2012 Outlook: Defensive ends will have a hard time getting around John this fall. His size and strength combined with his elite athleticism make him the perfect left tackle. It is a little hard to quantify what would be considered a "breakout" year for an offensive lineman, because to be successful at that position usually means your name is being mentioned very much. Nonetheless, Panther fans likely know what to expect from John on the field, but it's the intangibles off the field that need to be shown. Georgia State has suffered largely from a lack of leadership. With so few experienced players along the offensive line, John needs to be someone the coaches can count on to rally his teammates and become a role model for his younger counterparts.
Worst Case Scenario: It is certainly hard to imagine John not being successful in 2012, so the worst case scenario would likely be if he gets injured and misses significant time. However it is also possible that John is forced to play another position and his play suffers due to all the shuffling.
Best Case Scenario: The line gels together behind John's shining example. He anchors a line that is improved in every way from 2011 and most importantly... They stay healthy!
Prediction: John's performance seems almost a given at this point. It seems as though the only things that can slow him down are being dragged down by those around him. Barring injury, he is your starter for the next 23 games at left tackle.