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Position Previews: Offensive Guards/Centers

Entering 2007, the biggest question mark (this side of the QB race) was the interior offensive line, which was replacing three starters. Our solutions to the holes? Adrian Mayes at LG, Ryan Cantrell at C and Chet Hartley at RG. While successful as a group and part of an incredibly successful unit, the three individually had very different results.

Mayes was a mild success, a walk-on that provided decent stop-gap play. He could very easily be replaced sometime this season, although his main competition moved to RT (Jeremiah Hatch), so he just as well could be the starter throughout the entire season.

Cantrell was the biggest success of the group, playing well enough to be a fringe preseason All-Big 12 player. He is almost guaranteed of playing the entire year as the starter, with Sal Capra the odds-on favorite to succeed him.

Hartley, a JUCO transfer, was a good-but-not-great offensive guard who should have little trouble holding on to his job. However, he certainly isn't All-Big 12 worty. In essence, more of a success (and better lineman) than Mayes, less of a success (and worse of a lineman) than Cantrell.

However, since they all return as starters, senior starters I might add, this year the interior offensive line is being taken for granted. Right or wrong, nobody is mentioning the interior three as either a plus or a minus, they seem to be perfectly alright and acceptable to nearly everyone; voiced in nearly everyone's season preview of the Kansas Jayhawks.

With all of that said, here is a look at the depth chart over the next three seasons:

2008 2009 2010
LG1 Adrian Mayes (rsSR) Trevor Marongelli (rsFR) Trevor Marongelli (rsSO)
LG2 Sal Capra (rsSO) Sal Capra (rsJR) Sal Capra (rsSR)
LG3 Trevor Marongelli (FR) EMPTY EMPTY
RG1 Chet Hartley (SR) John Williams (rsFR) John Williams (rsSO)
RG2 Carl Wilson (rsSO) Carl Wilson (rsJR) Carl Wilson (rsSR)
RG3 John Williams (FR) EMPTY EMPTY
C1 Ryan Cantrell (rsSR) Brad Thorson (rsSO)
Brad Thorson (rsJR)
C2 Sal Capra (rsSO) EMPTY EMPTY

--- Italics denote projected redshirt year

--- Bold denotes EMPTY space in depth chart

Now, there are a couple of guesses on here. For one, I doubt that Capra will serve both as the primary reserve at LG and the starter at C, but I'm not sure which one he will be (if not the starter at LG, which is also a possibility), so I just put him at both. For another, I don't really know whether Williams will play LG or RG (I don't think anyone knows for sure, at this point) and Marongelli may or may not even end up making a guard. However, I figure he will be good enough to warrant getting on the field, and unless Spikes or Hatch drops off, they don't figure to be replaced next year.

Player-by-player previews after the jump...

Adrian Mayes :: #66 :: rsSR :: LG1

Adrian Mayes was a walk-on. However, the options were so limited last season at LG, that he won the starting slot. And, upon earning the slot, he played admirably, well enough to earn him a scholarship over the summer. Now, he is a returning, scholarship player, a lineman that seems like a dependable guy on paper.

That is exactly what Adrian is; dependable. He will be overmatched at times (read: Orange Bowl) and isn't on the same level athletically as some of the defensive tackles he will be matched up against, but he gets the job done more often than not. As a matter of fact, he reminds me a lot of Matt Darton; a fifth-year senior who can be counted upon to do an adequate job. Nothing special, just average-or-so. The difference between the two, of course, is that Darton is a reserve, unlikely to be called upon, while Mayes is a returning-and-expected starter. This can largely be attributed to one thing, in my opinion. Mangino has focused much of his early offensive line recruiting efforts on tackles, and for good reason. Tackles are much more important, especially in the pass-happy efforts of Mangino's system, and thus should be a much higher priority. And they have been, obviously. However, now that we have seemed to establish quite a bit of depth at the tackle spot (Spikes, Wolfe, Hatch, Lueken), we have now decided to make bigger runs at guard-types. Guys like Williams and Marrongelli (although Trevor could just as easily be a T).

And so, this just may be the last time we have a journeyman, Adrian Mayes-type entering into the season as the returnign-and-expected starter. No longer will there be a need for not one, but two two-year stopgaps (Chet Hartley, a JUCO transfer, being the other) at the guard position, as Mangino has finally been able to concentrate a large portion of his recruiting efforts on guards.

Sal Capra :: #59 :: rsSO :: LG2/C2

Coming to Kansas from Rockhurst, Capra was listed by Rivals as a LB. On the SB Nation rosters, he is listed as a LB. He did play center in high school, but that wasn't thought to be his future in collegiate football. And yet here he stands, the reserve center. Now, this could be partially because of a lack of centers on campus. However, he is also the reserve left guard; a position he rarely, if ever, played in high school. The extent of his experience lining up to the left of the center is all on the practice field, where mistakes generates one man's ire, not an entire fanbase's. Needless to say, the #1 reason why Adrian Mayes should feel confident in his ability to hold on to the job all season is the lack of incredible talent behind him. Sure, Capra is probably a fine player, but he seems to be in the same mold as Mayes, and likely won't be good enough in practice to beat out Mayes.

If he has a future as a starter at Kansas it is almost assuredly at C, as the guards of the future are both true freshmen who need a year of seasoning before they can contribute at the collegiate level. Therefore, Capra only has to be ready in case of emergency and he will have done his job.

Trevor Marrongelli :: #69 :: FR :: LG3

I love this kid. I think he has big things in his future. I'm not going to go too in-depth, because he is a lock to redshirt this season, therefore little impact on the actual games, and I'm running behind on these things, but I think he could start anywhere but center. Where he will start is still up in the air, although it figures to be replacing one of the departing Gs as the tackle spots seem to be locked up for years to come.

Chet Hartley :: #79 :: SR :: RG1

Hartley, a JUCO transfer last season, came in and performed quite well, clearly earning himself another year as the starting RG this season. He is a standard, BCS-level RG. Not a professional prospect, but plenty good enough to start at RG without embarrassing him and/or the team.

However, as a two-year stopgap, his 'type' may also never have a place at Kansas again. Hopefully, we can continue to replenish the system of incredibly talented guards, and there will be little need for a JUCO transfer other for depth purposes. I like Hartley, and he is a solid starter, but you never want to be in the position, as a college coach, to be forced to recruit and start a JUCO right away.

Carl Wilson :: 68 :: rsSO :: RG2

A recruit I forgot completely about, Carl Wilson comes in at #2 on the RG depth chart. He was actually a pretty solid prospect, being a 3-STAR, 5.5 RR, although he chose Kansas over a host of MWC and WAC schools, not a single other BCS program offered him a scholly. And now here he sits, in a position to play some garbage minutes and, were there to be an injury, be the starting RG. With Capra also being the reserve center, you would have to think that Wilson is the de facto #3 G on the team, at least for this season before Marrongelli and Williams get a year of practice and teaching under their belt.

But for now, Wilson just might be as high as he'll ever be. Sure, he'll likely be the main backup next season, if not part of a competition for a starting slot, but he could also sink. Honestly, Carl wasn't on my radar at all entering the season, and I will be interested to see him in action, if I get to, to get a read on how good he really is.

John Williams :: #71 :: FR :: RG3

Despite what SB Nation is trying to tell you, John Wiliams is not a WR. Not quite. No, he is about the polar opposite of a WR; a hole-making, road-grading 6'5" 338 beast of an offensive lineman. I can't wait to see this guy get on the football field, and I would all but guarantee that he is starting at either LG or RG this time next year.

Ryan Cantrell :: #50 :: rsSR :: C1

Last, but not least, in this interior offensive linemen preview is Ryan Cantrell, last year's unsung hero. He performed tremendously last season, and figures to be even better this year. He isn't an upper echeleon center in the Big 12, but he comfortably sits in the second tier, not a bad place to be at all. He is an obvious starter, a plus for this football team, and a great football player.

He will be fine this season. However, besides Capra there isn't really anyone who could replace him. Hatch could, I guess, but it would be a lot to ask a guy to switch from G to T to C all in two years. Of course, that would also open up a tackle spot for Wolfe/D'Cunha/Lueken/Marrongelli, and one of them is bound to be more-than-ready to start at RT by next season. So, maybe that will be the decision. Or, maybe it will be Capra for a year before a recruit can take over. It will certainly be something interesting to watch, however, off the field; who figures to be next year's replacement to Cantrell. My money, if pressed, would probably be placed on a move by Hatch, particularly if he struggles early on.


Next Up: Defensive Ends

On Deck: Defensive Tackles