For as long as I can remember (which isn’t long) Indiana’s offensive line has been a cobbling together of the haves and have nots. IU has recent offensive line standouts turned professionals in Roger Saffold and James Brewer, but in their years with Indiana football there was still some struggle with the line. The Hoosiers have lost two starters from last year, Brewer at right tackle and Aaron Price at guard. That means within the last month or so Kevin Wilson will had to have replaced 2/5 of last year line and likely more.
I’m going to admit outright before some of these player profiles that the lower guys on the depth chart are hard to find information on. This was a problem that I also ran into with the wide receivers and will likely occur with some other deep positions. So instead of Ivan Renko-ing some players I will just leave them out. It is not intended as an offense to them, it is just that walk-ons and the like are hard to be informed about without seeing them practice (which I have not). So without further ado…
Justin Pagan: 2008 recruit and current senior Justin Pagan will be looking to build on a solid two seasons of work. Pagan has started a total of 26 starts between the tackle and guard positions. I have found conflicting evidence in my research even within the same network. Rivals claims he’ll likely start at RT but they have him number one on the RG depth chart. If I were a betting man I would say he’ll fill into James Brewer’s old spot at RT. His experience on the line should help seal the edges on the run game and provide some solid protection to the QB’s visual side. With a stellar season Pagan has the size, potential and skill set to go from low rated recruit to NFL player.
Will Matte: The junior to be, Will Matte, is second to Pagan in career starts but barely. Matte has 24 career starts for the Hoosiers and will likely carry that streak into this year. Starting center is the most likely slot we will see Matte. At 6’2" 290 lbs, the Illinois native is the typical build for a college center and provides a good foundation for the rest of the line in the middle. Between Pagan and Matte the Hoosiers have two knowns in an offensive line that will likely be filled with unkowns.
Andrew McDonald: Last year’s starting left tackle for 11 games will be looking to fill that position yet again this season. He was a solid part of last year’s line. With McDonald at left tackle the Hoosier line only gave up 12 sacks. So the pass blocking ability is there. What is missing is the ability to seal off the run. McDonald has struggled to create push at the line in order for the running backs to pass through and unless he does that there is a potential for him to be unseated. I would say that is still unlikely and expect him to be there at LT when the season begins in two weeks.
Marc Damisch: Damisch has the inside track to be the starting LG and has the experience to make an impact. It really depends on how well he can absorb blocks and create space though. The guard position more than anything is important for getting push at the line and clearing space for the backs and if he can’t provide the push that he struggled to provide last year there is a chance he could be unseated from the position. There are several potential newcomers to the offensive line that have some great potential but I still favor Damisch and his experience to put it together this year and have a better run blocking season to go with the stellar pass blocking.
Cody Evers: The RG position was the hardest to project of all the starting linemen because of the shift of Pagan to RT and the void he left. I believe Evers is the most likely to fill that position as he is no longer the overweight and slow linemen that he has been in the past. He has lost "a lot" of weight according to Matt Weaver of Rivals and "it shows". A lighter more athletic Evers would make him the front runner for the other guard position and he should be the run blocker that Indiana so desperately needs, because even though he has lost weight he is still a monster of a man. Ever is still a solid 6’4" 300+ lbs mass of a human being and it will be up to him to help Pagan create push on that right side and make way for running backs like Nick Turner that need a little space to work their magic.
Josh Hager: Hager is a senior recovering from a knee injury. However, if he can make a full recovery he has the ability to compete at tackle and possibly slot into a starting guard position. He’s most likely going to be depth to begin with and be first off the sideline to fill in for any possible injury at the tackle positions.
Charlie Chapman: Yeah, I thought of Charlie Chaplin at first too. Chapman is likely to find himself in an offensive tackle depth position as well. The sophomore has one career appearance to his name and will likely not add anymore this season unless the injury bug hits. It isn’t so much a knock against Chapman’s abilities as it is a credit to the ability of the rest of the depth chart. No one is a major standout on the line but they are all extremely competitive individuals. As ESPN’s Big Ten blogger stated, "there are many good individuals on the line they just need to put it together as a group."
Bill Ivan: The Hoosier sophomore and Michigan native will likely be more depth behind the starters this season. At 6’5" 280 lbs he is still a bit light to be a big contributor at anywhere on the line outside of center. Instead he’ll get a lot of reps during the weeks on the practice field but not many on Saturday.
Pete Bachman: This will be an interesting individual to watch as the season and practices progress. He is making the switch from defensive line as a redshirt to the offensive line. He played OL in high school for one of Ohio’s standout programs so it shouldn’t be too hard of a transition. He likely won’t see the field this year but will be projecting towards a starting position in the future. He could potentially be a diamond in the rough if he can progress and add some weight this coming season.
Ralston Evans: Incoming freshman Evans has the advantage over many other freshman in that he enrolled in the spring semester and thus has an extra couple months and reps with the team under his belt. Because of that he had a great spring camp and is in the mix to possibly land a starting spot to begin the season. I’m going to be that Wilson will trust his veterans for another year before Evans finds his way into the rotation though. (edit: As pointed out in the comments Evans suffered season ending knee surgery on August 10th and will not be around again until spring of next year at the earliest)
Peyton Eckert: Another potential diamond in the rough. An injury riddled senior year in high school had a lot of programs looking past him, but his ability to put it together at the back end of the season and in his workouts garnered a lot of attention. He, like Evans, is a future starter and potential star in the making for the Indiana Hoosiers.
Greg Lewis: Lewis is another potential superstar for Indiana. This incoming freshman class is loaded with potential and if any of them can convert to that potential into results we could see a resurgence of the Indiana run game to go with its big passing game. Matt Weaver of Rivals gets the feeling that Lewis could be another Roger Saffold in the making. He has a basketball background and is a big athletic guy that has the footwork to make him very projectable at the college level.
David Kaminski: Kaminski is the final member of a projectable freshman class. A solid three sport athlete in high school, he is likely the center of the future with just as much projectability as the other players in his class. Coach Wilson loves his athletes in the line and he was lucky to inherit such an athletic class of linemen that Lynch was able to grab because of injury or being overlooked by larger programs.