Okpala OL

Oct 10, 2020

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Hey, look at little Bobby breaking some news, finding out that Moses Okpala has moved to the offensive line and reporting it like a reporting reporter. Way to go, little Bobby. Mom might take you to DQ after the game.

If you don't know what I'm rambling about, 2019 recruit Moses Okpala, who was at defensive tackle last season as a true freshman, has moved to the offensive line. Source? Uh, me, on Twitter. If you have an issue with that, call my editor. He's been on my case in the newsroom trying to make sure I hit my deadlines for the early edition.

Okpala was recruited as a defensive lineman out of Ladue high school just outside St. Louis. He's relatively new to football - half our roster is relatively new to football - and so our first try with Moses was defensive tackle. Now, for his second season, he's working out with the offensive line. It's a similar path to several other offensive linemen. Kendrick Green spent a year as a defensive tackle before moving to offensive guard. Verdis Brown spent a year at DT before moving to OG. Julian Pearl spent a year at DE before moving to OT. Even Nick Allegretti played some DT as a redshirt freshman before moving over to the OL.

And now Big Moses has moved over there. He was a solid recruit (offers from Nebraska, Ole Miss, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Missouri, and a dozen others), and all of those offers were based on "6'-7" guy with broad shoulders and a frame that can take more weight". A player like that either goes DE, DT, or OL, so now Moses is headed to the OL. I like it.

Let's look at the line after this line to discuss where he might fit. If not for Blake Jeresaty's injury, this line would be four seniors and a redshirt junior. It gets complicated with the Covid rule - technically, all of these offensive linemen could return for a second senior season next year - but let's just look at the OL once Vederian Lowe, Kendrick Green, Doug Kramer, Blake Jeresaty, and Alex Palczewski graduate.

And let's do this for the first game next fall. Incoming OT Brody Wisecarver will be a freshman, but so will the offensive linemen in the 2019 and 2020 classes. Evan Kirts, for example, arrived in the fall of 2019, redshirted, enters this season as a redshirt freshman, and will enter next season as a redshirt freshman.

The lists (and their year in school in 2021):

Julian Pearl (rs-SO)
Moses Okpala (rs-FR)
Brevyn Jones (rs-FR)
Phifer Griffin (rs-FR)
Blaise Sparks (rs-FR)
Brody Wisecarver (FR)

Verdis Brown (rs-SO)
Jordyn Slaughter (rs-SO)
Evan Kirts (rs-FR)
Josh Plohr (rs-FR)
Kevin Tyler (FR)
Josh Kreutz (FR)
Zach Barlev (FR)
Josh Gesky (FR)

So yes - everyone might return and the 2021 offensive line is just this same 2020 offensive line. Or three players might leave but two come back (plus Jeresaty returns from injury). It's really difficult to say how 2021 plays out. And remember, a player listed as a redshirt freshman there is actually a third-year player in 2021.

But regardless of when it happens or what year the next phase of linemen take over, this is what the roster will look like. The two tackles will have to come from those six players. Which is why this Moses move is a good one,

I should note - I get a little nervous with really tall players on the offensive line. I know there are plenty of 6'-8" offensive tackles in the NFL, but it takes a rare kind of athleticism to be able to play OL at 6'-8". So 6'-7" makes me a little nervous, but that's right at the cap for me before I start talking about "too tall". Just a personal preference, but I like my offensive tackles between 6'-5 and 6'-7". Okpala is at the high end of that.

I think there's depth at defensive tackle as well, so this move makes sense. Again, the numbers will get screwy because some players will take advantage of the Covid rule and some won't, but if we just remove the one senior (Roderick Perry), here's the defensive tackles in 2021:

Jamal Woods (rs-JR)
Deon Pate (rs-JR)
Calvin Avery (JR)
Anthony Shipton (JR)
Johnny Newton (FR)
Quinton McCoy (FR)
Sedarius McConnell (FR)

I think that's a decent-enough list to move Okpala over to OL. Those four juniors could technically play the next three seasons, so you're not going to have to rely on Newton and McConnell until 2023. And by then you'll add some more reinforcements. So this works.

What's that? You want me to close this post with a two-deep for the offensive line after the seniors and Kendrick Green leave? I won't give you starter and backup, but I will give you an ~OR~ chart:

LT: Brevyn Jones ~OR~ Moses Okpala
LG: Jordyn Slaughter ~OR~ Evan Kirts
C: Josh Kreutz ~OR~ Josh Plohr
RG: Verdis Brown ~OR~ Kevin Tyler
RT: Blaise Sparks ~OR~ Brody Wisecarver

I like that. Go Big Moses. Grab that LT spot after Vederian leaves.


PosterNB12 on October 10, 2020 @ 06:57 AM

Shouldn’t RT have Pearl? He’s way ahead of Sparks.

Robert on October 11, 2020 @ 07:06 AM

Good point. He hasn't been in any of the photos or videos for practice (guessing he's nicked up) so I kind of forgot about him when putting together that list. But yes, he should be in there.

WeatherfordForMVP on October 10, 2020 @ 12:04 PM

Thoughts on how this impacts the 2020 season specifically?

I keep hearing that the offensive line is in great shape and the defensive line is a big question mark. Now we've moved a tall, athletic DT with a little experience on the field from defense to offense. Does that make sense in the short term?

ktal on October 10, 2020 @ 01:05 PM

Maybe the coaching staff doesn't think the DL is a question mark?

WeatherfordForMVP on October 10, 2020 @ 01:13 PM

Well, true. That would be encouraging.

Robert on October 11, 2020 @ 07:09 AM

For this season specifically, I'm guessing he wouldn't be in the rotation at either spot. We're thin on experience at DT but a redshirt freshman who hasn't played yet probably wasn't going to fix that.

It might be as simple as "he's the 7th defensive tackle right now and we need offensive tackles - let's switch him".

Lee23 on October 16, 2020 @ 02:38 PM

Is Riggins still on the team?

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