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Nevada football 2021 summer position preview: Offensive Lineman

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New Mexico v Nevada Photo by Jonathan Devich/Getty Images

Nevada’s first game isn’t until Sept. 4 in a road contest against California — their first non-conference game since its 37-21 victory against Texas El-Paso on Sept. 21, 2019.

After finishing the year 7-2 — capped-off by a 38-27 win over Tulane in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl — the Pack look to replicate their successful season. But before the regular season begins, let’s preview the roster.

This week, we dive into the offensive line, also known as “The Union.” Let’s get into it!

Previous weeks:

Anyone departing?

Nathan Edwards

Edwards graduates. He played in 28 of Nevada’s 47 eligible games over his four years. Edwards started in nine of his 13 appearances in 2019, but lost his starting job to Tyler Orsini (see below) in 2020, making just two appearances (zero starts).

Nate Brown

Brown, like Edwards, did not elect to return for a sixth senior year. Brown held down the fort at right guard last year after starting the previous two seasons at right tackle. He was very reliable, seeing action of 44 of 47 games over the last two seasons. Brown was named the team’s Basalite Big Blocker of the Year in 2019.

Trey Price

After appearing the team’s final 10 contests in 2019, Price, a former American River College transfer, didn’t see the field in 2020 and entered the transfer portal in May. He did not conclude the year on Nevada’s two-deep depth chart last season. In one season with the Beavers, Price earned first-team All-Conference honors.

Zac Welch

Welch entered the transfer portal in May, per his twitter account. He played behind Nate Brown at right guard in 2020, making eight appearances. He redshirted in 2019, though he capped out the amount of games eligible for a redshirt player with four.

Cole Watts

Watts also entered the transfer portal in May — 16 days later than Welch — per his twitter account. He’s been the Wolf Pack’s second-string right tackle for the last two seasons. Watts made seven appearances last year after two games as a freshman in 2019.

Who’s returning?

Blake Baughman

Baughman did not see any action in 2020 after redshirting in 2019, his freshman year.

Aaron Frost

Frost is one of Nevada’s four returning starters amongst its offensive line entering 2021. He earned All-Mountain West second-team honors in 2020, starting in all nine games at right tackle. Frost has appeared in all 22 of the Wolf Pack’s eligible games for the last two seasons and 29 of 36 in total.

Jermaine Ledbetter

Ledbetter, a team captain, has also been a mainstay within The Union. Ledbetter is one of two super seniors on the offensive line, due to the NCAA granting an extra year of eligibility. Starting in all nine contests, Ledbetter made the All-Mountain West Honorable Mention team.

Tyler Orsini

Orsini is the other of Nevada’s two super seniors on its offensive line. Orsini earned All-Mountain West honorable mention honors in 2020 at center after starting at left guard in 2019. Prior to his stint with the Wolf Pack, he spent two seasons at Ventura College, where he earned the team’s Offensive Lineman of the Year award in 2018.

Gray Davis

Given his experience, Davis projects to take over for Brown at right guard. He was the backup left guard and played in just four games last year after starting in all 13 in 2019.

Jacob Gardner

Gardner was thrusted upon the scene last year. After left tackle Miles Beach effectively retired just weeks prior to the season’s start, Gardner, a freshman, took over the position. He held his own protecting Carson Strong’s backside, garnering All-Mountain West honorable mention honors.

Drew Cannon

In his first season with the Wolf Pack, Cannon redshirted. He spent the previous two seasons at Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas.

Donovan Carter

Carter did not see any action as a redshirt freshman in 2020.

Frank Poso

Poso was the Wolf Pack’s second-best offensive line recruits in their 2020 recruiting class, per His lone two appearances came on Nov. 5 versus Utah State and Dec. 11 versus San Jose State.

Grant Starck

Amongst the offensive line, Starck was Nevada’s best recruit — third-best overall — in its 2020 recruiting class, per 247Sports. He redshirted last year.

RJ Taylor

Like Starck, Taylor also redshirted. The former three-star recruit was Nevada’s fourth-best 2020 offensive line recruit.

Moses Landis

Landis was the team’s second-string left tackle last season, appearing in just three games. He appeared in four in his first full healthy season with the Wolf Pack in 2019.

Trey Hamilton

The former Reno High School graduate appeared in three games last season, including the team’s win in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl against Tulane. It marks the only three games the now redshirt junior has appeared in.

Any new faces?

Dominic Eldridge

Eldridge was the Wolf Pack’s first verbal commitment of the 2021 class and was the highest. He was a three-star recruit from Pinkston High School in Dallas, Texas. He chose the Wolf Pack over Liberty, Louisiana Monroe, Kansas and Hawai’i, among others. Eldridge earned a first-team All-District selection.

Here is what Mountain West Connection’s Mike Wittmann wrote about Eldridge in Nevada’s 2021 recruiting breakdown:

Dominic is one of the best offensive lineman entering the Mountain West. He plays with a nastiness about him and specializes in pancaking defenders. Eldridge’s size and strength give him he advantage in pass protection, and he can move backward and sideways fluidly. He is aggressive in blocking for the run, getting the first step on defenders. Dominic should blossom into one of the better left tackles in the conference.

Trevyn Heil

Heil also played linebacker, but the Wolf Pack plan to initially play him with The Union. He was a three-star recruit from Grandview High School in Aurora, Colo. Heil chose the Wolf Pack over Northern Colorado, Yale and Air Force.

Here is what Wittmann wrote about Heil:

Trevyn played primarily in high school but he will be on offense for the Wolf Pack. His tape shows a number of traits and skills that can carry over to the other side of the ball. Heil is quick off the snap and relentless in making an impact play. He is athletic and mobile, with good footwork and proper hand placement. Trevyn will need time to learn the ins and outs of a new position at a higher level but figures to make an impact.

Andrew Madrigal

Madrigal was a three-star interior offensive line recruit from Norco High School in Norco, Calif., per 247Sports. He was a two-time All-League and an All-CIF selection, failing to give up a sack in his junior season. Madrigal chose Nevada over Colorado State, Harvard, Idaho and Eastern Michigan, among others.

Here is what Wittmann wrote about Madrigal:

Andrew is another great offensive lineman Nevada was able to secure. He is formidable in pass-protection, displaying impressive agility and footwork for his size. Madrigal is the focal point of the line, as most plays run through him, even if he has to pull or swing to another side. He routinely blocks second level linebackers which allows plays to extend longer for more production. Andrew is a tackle that can develop into an all-conference type of lineman.

Lysander Moeolo

Moeolo was a three-star recruit from Timberline High School in Lacey Wash. Per 247Sports, the only other offer Moeolo received was from Fresno State. He set Timberlane’s program record for most pancake blocks.

Here’s what Wittmann wrote about Moeolo:

Lysander is another o-line player in this class. He has great size and uses his power to push defenders around in the run game. Moeolo is pretty mobile, which allows him to block into the second level, ideal for a run-blocker. He sticks to his blocks and knows his assignments. Ideally, Lysander is used as a guard who can serve as a lead blocker in the run-game.

Jacob Nunez

Nunez transferred to the Wolf Pack from Arizona State in May. While not appearing in any games last season, he still has all four years of eligibility left. Out of Lompoc High School in Lompoc, Calif., he earned Channel league Offensive Lineman of the Year — fueling a Lompoc ground attack that recorded over 2,100 yards with 27 rushing touchdowns.

My thoughts:

The Wolf Pack saw massive improvement in 2020 under first-year offensive line coach Bill Best. Four offensive lineman made the All-Conference team after it posted just one (Austin Corbett) from 2016-19. It provided open lanes for tailbacks Toa Taua and Devonte Lee, while providing quality protection for Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year, quarterback Carson Strong. It jumped from the 8th-worst group in 2019 to the 56th-best (out of 127 teams) last year, according to Pro Football Focus. The Union places second in PFF’s preseason rankings — trailing San Diego State. If it can limit the penalties, this offensive line has the potential to produce another formidable season for this explosive Wolf Pack offense.