Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Opinion: Don’t count out KU’s new-look offensive line yet

Offensive line coach Tim Grunhard works his players through drills during practice on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012.

Offensive line coach Tim Grunhard works his players through drills during practice on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012.


Nothing beats an offensive line with a few fifth-year seniors loaded with game experience. Five years of body sculpting. All that time spent refining blocking technique. Such rich chemistry from so many practices spent together.

No wonder Kansas University running back James Sims always went out of his way to thank the men paving the way last season. Left tackle Tanner Hawkinson, left guard Duane Zlatnik and center Trevor Marrongelli formed a rare trio in terms of time spent together in the huddle as their games and frames steadily grew. They combined for 909 pounds and 110 starts.

Now they’re gone, but hope is not.

Second-year offensive line coach Tim Grunhard always has a story from his days at Notre Dame or the Kansas City Chiefs he can customize to what his blockers need to hear at any given moment.

“When I was a sophomore, we had a senior-laden line just like we did here last year and when all those guys left, guys like Andy Heck, me, Dean Brown and Mike Heldt had to step in and play,” Grunhard said.

The preseason magazines didn’t like Notre Dame’s chances because of the inexperienced offensive line.

“We went on and won a national championship with that line,” Grunhard said. “I’m not saying that’s what’s going to happen here, but what I keep telling these guys is if they get together and they believe in each other and they overachieve and they work hard together they have a chance to do something special.”

Two physical junior college offensive line recruits are participating in spring football and one more reports in the summer, but it’s returning senior Aslam Sterling whose potential is the most intriguing. Listed as the starting right tackle on the depth chart, Sterling already has done something special in terms of reshaping his body. He reported to summer camp last season as a junior college transfer weighing 368 pounds. He recently weighed in at 312 and said he feels far more energetic.

Sterling was thrown into games last season carrying too many pounds and with limited knowledge of the playbook. He was unaccustomed to the speed and sophisticated techniques of opposing defenders.

“I think you’re going to be surprised how physical Aslam can be,” Grunhard said. “I think last year not being sure what was going on, he hesitated a little bit and struggled a little bit that way, but when Aslam knew what he was doing last year, he was pretty dominating. So we’re expecting him to know a lot more this year and be a lot more comfortable.”

Grunhard is high on Sterling’s ceiling.

“He’s got a pro body,” Grunhard said. “When you look at any offensive lineman on our field, you look at him and say that guy’s got a pro body. That’s what a prototypical right tackle looks like in the NFL.”

That’s not what Sterling was told at home in New York during Christmas break.

“My mom still calls me fat,” he said, smiling.

Maybe she meant phat.


melrank 8 years, 7 months ago

Tom said "phat". I laughed in my coffee. Nice.

jhox 8 years, 7 months ago

Last year's O line had the run blocking thing down but not so much the pass blocking. I would hope we've upgraded in that respect.

clevelandjayhawker 8 years, 7 months ago

Last year it was the tale of two sides, we could do anything we wanted on the left side and couldnt give more than 2 sec of protection on the right. We can have the best RBs in the conference, but if we cant block it wont matter. On the plus side, I think we have the right coach to get them ready and hopefully guys are getting a better feel for what they need to do.

Work hard each day, at 1-11 last year we cant afford days off. Rock Chalk

KGphoto 8 years, 7 months ago

Wow! Losing 56 pounds in a year is pretty good. Says a lot about Holsopple. I imagine he’s only gotten stronger as well. I bet he feels great.

There is so much more I would like to know about this Oline. What’s Dylan Admire’s weight? He needed at least 10-15 pounds IMO. Tough to be a center in the Big 12 at 280.

Pat Lewandowski is listed as the starting LT over Spencer. He was at 287 on last years roster. Has he put on the extra 10-15 he’ll need?

Where does Grunhard think Joey Bloomfield will fit into the depth chart?

What other linemen have been reshaped under Holospple’s watchful eye? Connolly came at a towering 6’7” but only 287, and Weis said he was just a pup at that point. Where’s he now? Beckman and Peters have a year in the system. How are they coming along?

I’m a very needy fan.

KGphoto 8 years, 7 months ago

Thanks coach! Lol, you just out-scooped Keegan.

It’s awesome to hear Sterling is dominating, and that Ngalu can replace Zlatnik. Hey, I think you answered every one of my questions and more, except for Connolly. He was the big “potential” guy. I guess if you haven’t heard, he must not be there yet.

I knew Admire was sharp. I also remember hearing he was a real tough guy and could probably play at a lighter weight. Still I can’t help but think that he needs to be at least 290-295.

Mark Lindrud 8 years, 7 months ago

So, who would the early starting line be at the moment? Also curious which juco guys are already making an impact. I'm not counting out our line at all because of the experienced guys we had backing up and the guys coming in.

schmucker 8 years, 7 months ago

Are the football message boards ever coming back?

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