We continue to take a look at ESPN's ranking of ACC positional units by looking at ESPN's ranking of ACC offensive lines. It probably comes as little surprise that the Wake Forest offensive line currently ranks 14th out of 14 teams. What will the Wake offensive line look like this season?
Wake Forest's offensive line in 2014 was, by nearly any objective measure, the worst in the country. The 2015 offensive line was by no means fantastic, but statistically speaking took some decent steps forward. The 2016 offensive line will feature four returning starters, but will also have some position changes from the 2015 offensive line.
The starters on the 2016 offensive line are projected to be (from left to right) RS So. Justin Herron, RS Sr. Ty Hayworth, Sr. Josh Harris, RS So. Phil Haynes, and RS So. Ryan Anderson. The others expected to be in the rotation are RS Fr. Nathan Gilliam, RS Fr. TJ Haney, RS So. Patrick Osterhage, Jr. A'Lique Terry, and RS Fr. Jake Benzinger.
Wake Forest's success in 2016 will greatly depend on how much the offensive line continues to improve. If they cannot block with consistency, then Wake's passing and rushing attacks can only improve by but so much. Should ESPN have ranked Wake Forest as having the worst offensive line? At this point in the season it's certainly deserved. Hopefully come October the Wake offensive line will be one of the strengths of the team. The silver lining for Wake? They Deacs should have a good pass rush (which we'll get to in a future article), and Wake plays ESPN's 11th through 13th ranked offensive lines in Winston-Salem.
Dave Clawson has said that eventually the offensive line will be a strength of the Wake Forest football program. The caliber of recruits do reflect this, but year three is huge for Clawson. He made offensive line a point of emphasis in the first recruiting class because of the amount of time it takes to physically develop offensive linemen. They probably aren't to the point where he wants them, but they have made strides. It's about closing the gap with other offensive lines. This will be a major story to follow all season long.