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Nevada football 2020 spring position preview: Offensive lineman

After a rough 2019, the Pack return all five starting lineman for the 2019 season.

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UNLV v Nevada Photo by Jonathan Devich/Getty Images

Before I begin, I want to thank every single first responder, doctor, nurse, health professional and every essential worker around Nevada (where I reside) and the United States who are working to help us keep safe and defeat this pandemic. I hope everyone is, and remains safe during these troubling times. Hopefully this will all end soon.

Now lets jump into it.

With spring football postponed for the foreseeable future, we will be breaking down each position group of the Nevada football team every Monday.

Today, we will be looking the offensive line group, nicknamed “The Union”.

Previous weeks:

3/30: Quarterbacks

4/6: Running backs

4/13: Wide receivers

4/20: Tight ends

Anyone departing?

Jake Nelson

Nevada v Vanderbilt Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Nelson played in just five games last season before a broken arm versus Hawai’i forced him to sit the remainder of the season. Nelson was named to the preseason All-Mountain West team and was on the preseason watch list for the Outland award. Nelson started all 13 games as a junior. In 2018, he earned All-Mountain West Honorable mention for the first time in his career — anchoring an offensive line that allowed just 1.17 sacks per which ranked 14th-best in the nation. He started in all 12 games in 2018. The Pack allowed the fourth-fewest sacks and had the No. 2 passing attack in the conference that season.

Anyone returning?

Donovan Carter

Carter did not see the field last season. The 5-foot-11, 295-pound lineman chose the Wolf Pack over Fresno State, Air Force and Holy Cross. Out of Paraclete High School in Lancaster, Calif., Carter helped his team win back-to-back CIF Southern Section championships in 2016 and 2017 and a 3AA State title in 2017.

Blake Baughman

Blaughman redshirted in his freshman season last year. Baughman, according to 247sports.com, was a two-star recruit from Placer High School in Auburn, Calif. Blaughman was a two-time first team All-Foothill Valley League member. He also was a first-team All-Sac-Joaquin section team, first-team All-NorCal and a second-team all-state member in his senior season. He helped his team to four Pioneer Valley League titles, a section championship and a Northern California championship in 2017.

Aaron Frost

Frost started in all 13 games at both guard spots last season. Frost played in seven games with Nevada as a freshman, starting in two versus Toledo and Air Force. As a three-star recruit at Long Beach Poly High School in California, Frost came to the Pack as a defensive lineman before converting to the offensive line in camp. Frost received offers from San Diego State, Fresno State, Colorado State, Arizona State and Arizona.

Miles Beach

Beach started the first five games at right guard. Once Nelson broke his arm, Beach moved to the left tackle spot for the remainder of the year — anchoring Carson Strong’s blindside for the final eight games. Beach appeared in ten games as a sophomore in 2018. As a redshirt freshman in 2017, Beach saw time at both offensive line and tight end.

Cole Watts

Watts, Nevada’s backup tackle, appeared in just one game last season with Nevada. He played in Nevada’s 21-10 win over New Mexico. Watts attended Orem High School in Orem, Utah. He was an all-state and an all-state honoree.

Jack Bolduc

Bolduc, who redshirted in his freshman season in 2018, did not see the field at all during the 2019 season. Bolduc was a two-star recruit out of Junipero Serra High School in Santa Ana, Calif. per 247Sports. Bolduc was recruited by San Diego State, Hawai’i, Montana, Montana State and Eastern Washington, among others.

Nate Brown

Nevada v Vanderbilt Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Brown returns as arguably the Wolf Pack’s best offensive lineman. Brown, anchoring the right tackle spot, started all 13 games last season as a junior. He was named as the team’s Basalite Big Blocker of the Year. Brown started in all 13 games as a sophomore in 2018.

Trey Hamilton

Hamilton did not see the field last year after redshirting as a freshman in 2018. Hamilton, a local product from Reno High School, was named to the Northern Nevada 4A All-Region team in his senior season.

Jermaine Ledbetter

Ledbetter has appeared in 21 combined games with one start in his only two seasons with Nevada. He played at Coffeyville Community College prior to his Pack tenure, playing in 11 games. Ledbetter, ranked as the 182nd-best player and the 7th-best offensive guard in the 2018 JUCO class per 247Sports, originally committed to Kansas State before committing to Nevada.

Moses Landis

As a redshirt sophomore last year, Landis appeared in three games. Landis redshirted in his first year with Nevada in 2018. Prior to Nevada, the 6-foot-3 lineman played in one season at America River College in Sacramento, Calif.

Christopher Love

Love, after redshirting in his freshman season after playing just two games, did not see the field in his second season. He earned one of the team’s Scout Team Player of the Year awards. He chose Nevada over recruited by UTEP, Montana and Dixie State.

Nathan Edwards

Edwards was Nevada’s starting center last season. He started in all 13 games in his junior campaign after not starting a single game as a sophomore in 2018. Edwards mostly played on special teams for field goal and PAT attempts. Edwards is a local product as a graduate from Galena High School in Reno. He also followed in his father’s foot steps. His dad, Tony, was also apart of the Union with Nevada in the 1980s.

Trey Price

Price, in his first season with the Wolf Pack, appeared in ten games with the Wolf Pack. Prior to Nevada, Price played one season at American River College, earning first team All-conference and first team all-league. Price, ranked as the 228th-best JUCO recruit in the 2019 class per 247Sports, chose Nevada over Washington State, UTEP and Old Dominion. Out of Christian Brothers High School in Sacramento, Price won two league championships and a two-time All-Metro selection.

Gray Davis

Davis appeared in all 13 games for Nevada last season. After Nelson’s injury, Davis started at left guard for the final seven games of the season. The 6-foot-4 lineman did not start in any games in 2018 after redshirting a freshman the year prior. Gray was rated a three-star recruit per 247Sports. While at Parish Episcopal High School in Dallas, Texas, Davis was an all-state selection on both offensive and defensive in his junior and senior seasons. He was recruited by New Mexico State, Central Arkansas, Yale, Cornell and Dartmouth.

Tyler Orsini

Orsini appeared in nine games in his first season with Nevada. He spent the season behind Edwards for the starting center spot. Orsini spent his two first collegiate seasons at Ventura College in Sacramento, Calif. Orsini won Offensive Lineman of the Year honors in 2018. Orsini anchored an offensive line that ranked 13th out of 68 teams in the California Community College Athletics Association (CCCAA) in rushing (203.5 ypg).

Alex Tancreto

Tancreto has seen the field in just one game in his first three eligible seasons with the Wolf Pack. That one game came in the 72-10 victory in the 2018 season opener versus Portland State. Tancreto redshirted in his freshman season in 2016.

Zach Welch

Welch played in three games last season. Welch attended Oak Ridge High School in El Dorafdo Hills, Calif. He was named to the first team All-League, first team All-Section, first team All-Nor Cal and and second-team all-state.

Any new faces?

Grant Starck

Starck is Nevada’s third-highest recruit and the best tackle in its 2020 class per 247Sports. Starck, rated as a three-star recruit, was ranked as the 135th-best guard in the nation. He chose Nevada over Oregon State and Idaho.

Here is what MWCConnection site manager and recruiting guru Mike Wittmann said about Starck in Nevada’s 2020 recruiting breakdown:

“Grant is an athletic tackle joining the Pack. He moves well laterally and gets out in front of running plays or screens with some speed. Starck comes out of his stance explosively and his strength is evident on his tape. He finishes blocks and plays through the whistle. Grant plays left tackle in high school and he would do well at either tackle spot at Nevada due to his size and blocking ability.”

Frank Poso

Poso is Nevada’s second-best tackle in its class. Poso was ranked as a three-star prospect, and the 152nd-best offensive tackle in the 2020 class nationally per 247Sports.

Here is what Wittmann said about Poso:

“Frank is a towering figure on the offensive line coming to Nevada. He gets in good position before making a hit and doesn’t let defenders off of his blocks thanks to his strength and good hand placement. Poso appears to have a high football IQ and his tape shows he understands his assignments well. He is equally skilled at pass protection and run-blocking, although he has a tendency to stand up a bit too tall. Frank seems like a great bet to be a future starter at right tackle during his career.”

Jacob Gardner

Gardner is ranked as the Pack’s third-best lineman in their 2020 class. Gardner was ranked as a three-star prospect and the 195th-best tackle nationally per 247Sports.

Here is what Wittmann said about Gardner:

“Jacob is another offensive linemen coming to Nevada in this class, a clear point of emphasis for them. He is a physical presence who explodes into blocks after the snap and plays through the whistle. Gardner was athletic enough to play both ways in high school and moves with agility and nice footwork. He can buy time to extend plays thanks to his steady blocking. Jacob plays mostly tackle in his tape but could slide over to a guard spot if he adds weight thanks to his frame.”

RJ Taylor

Taylor is Nevada’s final offensive line recruit in this 2020 class. Taylor was ranked as a three-star recruit per 247Sports.

Here is what Wittmann said about Taylor.

“RJ brings nice size to the interior of the offensive line. He shines as a guard who can pull and become a key blocker on running plays. Taylor keeps his body low and makes square contact when delivering hits. He isn’t the fastest player on the field but he balances it out with his strength. RJ will need a year or two to develop but should settle into a starting guard position.”

My thoughts:

This was not a good position group for the Wolf Pack last year — it was arguably their worst. The offensive line surrendered a conference-high 33 sacks, ranking T-102 nationally in that category. The yards per carry on the ground decreased from 4.6 yards in 2018 to a conference-low 3.4 yards last season with essentially the same crop of backs. Nevada’s group ranked 8th-worst according to Pro Football Focus — including 4th-worst in its run grade. With offensive line coach Angus McClure departing for Cal, Bill Best takes over to coach the Union. The Pack have had just one all-conference lineman since 2015 (Austin Corbett) after having at least one each year from 2001-15. This program has been known for its stellar offensive line play — but haven’t seem to find its stride over the last several seasons. Nevada returns all five of its starting lineman, so it looks to build off a rough 2019 with continuity heading into 2020.