Georgia State's offensive line lost four starters from last season and most would believe that is a sign of trouble for the Panther's offensive hopes in 2012. However, injury problems as well as discipline issues led to the unit struggling in 2011, and this year's group knows that those struggles directly correlated to poor offensive performances. While experience along the trenches would appear to be a concern for Georgia State, the Panthers actually have four players returning that have starting experience. The line will be anchored by two massive tackles, Ulrick John and Grant King. King has started every game Georgia State has ever played. John started games at three different positions in 2012 and is super athletic for a man his size. Harrison Clottey will likely take over the right guard position where he battled for playing time the last two seasons with the now depart Ladeven Kirkland. The biggest question for the offensive line is who will start at the all important center position. One thing that is not in question, however, is that this unit must improve over last season's production. They saw their number of sacks allowed increase, despite having a more mobile quarterback in Kelton Hill, from 2010 and consistently struggled against much smaller offensive lines. From talking to some of the players, this unit is aware of all this and has come together to put this season completely on their shoulders. If that is true and the offensive line can stay healthy, it will be a special year for the Panther offense.
Ulrick John- John is 6'8 and weighs 290 pounds. He certainly has the size to be a left tackle, but probably his best attribute is his athleticism. Coach Bill Curry as well as offensive coordinator John Bond both claimed that this year's offensive line is going to be much more athletic than the unit was in 2011. And when you watch John, it's hard not to see why. He is probably fast enough and can catch well enough to play tight end. Watching him peel out to make a block is quite an imposing sight. That athleticism gives him the versatility to play anywhere on the line and he proved that point last season by starting in three different positions. John had been the backup for Georgia Tech transfer Clyde Yandell the past two seasons.Yandell was hampered by injuries last season and when he was playing he was rather inconsistent. John will likely be a significant upgrade over his predecessor's performance.
Gabriel Hampton- Hampton received an extra season of eligibility because he was injured in the first game of the season last year and missed the rest of the season. That decision was tremendous news for the Panthers because it allows them to have depth, which can not be understated considering the injury issues of the season before. Barring injury John and right tackle King should start every game, but Hampton is a very capable of filling in as he did in four games in 2010.
Nick Nesmith- Nesmith certainly has been through a lot on his journey to Georgia State. But the walk-on has never complained and has been a tremendous influence on the team off the field as well. While playing time will certainly be limited, Nesmith can play any position along the line and served as the scout teams starting center in the past. If that position does not get a true starter or suffers a multitude of injuries, Nesmith believes he can fill that role for Georgia State.
Michael Davis- Davis is a player that has certainly had more than his share of the injury bug in his time as a Panther. He was slated to start at guard in 2010 before suffering a torn ACL. And then he played in the first three games of 2011 including starting a game at center before breaking his ankle in practice. Finally healthy once again, Davis could start at left guard if the Panthers' are able to find a viable option at Center. If that position struggles than Davis could easily slide over. The concern with that is that depth is a major issue for the Panthers' at guard. Davis' health is one of the biggest factors to Georgia State's success. As long as he is healthy and is able to play his natural guard position, then Georgia State's offensive line will be in tremendous shape.
Cade Yates- Yates has been a backup the last two seasons but could be thrust into a starting role if Michael Davis has to play Center. Yates is one of the smallest lineman listed at 280 pounds, but is again an improvement athletically to his predecessor Joseph Gilbert. He saw action in four games last season. While the ideal scenario would be for him to again backup the left guard position, if called upon he will be more than ready to step up and play significant minutes.
Tim Wynn- Wynn took a redshirt in 2011 after seeing action in four games at center in 2010. The redshirt sophomore is one of the most important players on the team. He needs to take a major step forward this offseason. Wynn struggles at time with the nuances of playing Center and needs to add strength as well if he is going to be a productive player. The coaches believe he shows promise but the light needs to come on for Wynn. Curry in particular is very hard on his Centers and will continue to expect the best out of this position.
Ronald Martin- Martin split time with Wynn at center during spring practice, but neither really separated themselves from the other. Martin could consistently be seen being pulled aside by Curry after blowing an assignment. Both of these players have the talent to be productive centers, but they have yet to live up to their potential. The number one priority for Martin as well as Wynn needs to be adding size and improving their reflexes. Centers have to have incredible awareness and flexibility, something both of these players need to improve upon. This position could be the Panthers' largest question mark coming in to the 2012 season.
Harrison Clottey- Clottey is an imposing figure at 6'5 and 310 pounds. He battled with Ladeven Kirkland for a starting role the past two seasons and with Kirkland's eligibility being used up Clottey will need to take the next step and become one of the Panthers' dominant lineman. He is one of the more talented players in his unit, but for whatever reason has not been able to take it to the next level. He performed well during spring practice but the team needs him to take on a leadership role this fall and be an anchor for the line. If he realizes his potential than the right side of the line will be one of the best around.
Kam Cheatham- With David Huey and John Marshall Sauls moving over to the defensive side of the ball, the guard position is in some desperate need of depth. Cheatham will look to add that depth at the right guard position. The Junior has never seen game action for the Panthers' but has the size and talent to do so if called upon. As with the right guard position, the ideal situation is for Clottey to remain healthy and for Cheatham to serve his backup role. But with the luck the Georgia State offensive lineman had in that area last season, all of the offensive lineman need to be prepared to step in at any moment.
Grant King- King has started and performed well in every single game Georgia State has ever played. He has been the model of consistency and will be the leader of the unit in every way this season. Having someone like King who has been through the battles is invaluable to a team. He will be looked upon to shepherd this young group and help them realize their full potential. As stated previously, as long as the two remain healthy, the right side of the line will be something special this season.
Rammel Davis- Davis is one of the enigmas of the Georgia State football team. He certainly has the physical tools to be an extremely dominant offensive lineman, but was consistently beaten by smaller more athletic defensive lineman during spring practice. Davis is an important player for the Panthers because he will likely be the primary backup for both tackle positions. He needs to improve his athleticism in order for Panther fans to be confident when he is on the field.
LT Garrett Gorringe- Gorringe is the probably the one player that is the most physically ready to play as a true freshman. He is known as being an incredibly hard worker and someone who will be a mainstay on the line for his career as a Panther. If health is not a concern for the Panthers then they would love for Gorringe to take a redshirt, but he is one of the few guys you could look at and know that he could play on the offensive line as a true freshman. Keep an eye out for #59 this fall.
RT Treavor Flannigan- Flannigan is the most likely redshirt candidate on the offensive line. He needs to add size as he comes in at just 265 pounds and will get the chance to do so. Hampton's extra year of eligibility allows for Flannigan to have that opportunity and keep his name in mind in a couple seasons when King and John have moved on. It would be a very pleasant surprise for Georgia State to find to tackle anchors in one class.
C Mark Ruskell- Ruskell is the dark horse in the battle for the center position. Wynn and Martin have given no indication that they have the position locked down. Ruskell is a very intelligent athlete who was an all-county selection in the super competitive Gwinnett County. He has the size already at 6'2 and 280 pounds. I am told he has already added muscle to his frame this off season and could be ready to play as a true freshman. If he does prove to be the best option at center, then that would free up Michael Davis to play next to him at left guard. The value of that can not be understated. Davis has not only played center, but he is the president of the leadership council and would be an incredible asset to a young center. It will certainly be an interesting battle this fall to see who will anchor down one of the most important positions on Coach Bill Curry's team.
Aaron Thomas- Georgia State has two signees that have yet to make it on campus. Guard prospect Thomas one of this two. It is unclear whether or not he will be here in the fall, and if he is not then that will be a big loss for the Panthers as Thomas could have been a candidate for early playing time at the left guard position.