Young Offensive Linemen Show Their Potential in Season Opener

Christopher Hall

West Virginia University football head Neal Brown found himself in a peculiar situation on Saturday, suspending 11 players for the season opener for violating team rules.

Of the 11 suspended were four starters, two of which were on the offensive line - center Chase Behrndt, a redshirt senior and a player that is considered one of the team leaders, and redshirt freshman left tackle Junior Uzebu, who was set to make his first career start.

West Virginia Mountaineers head coach Neal Brown leads his team onto the field prior to their game against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels at Mountaineer Field at Milan Puskar Stadium.
Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Insert in-state product and true freshman Zach Frazier. Albeit he was second on the depth chart, the Fairmont, WV native had never taken any snaps at center during his high school career but got the start for the suspended Behrndt, and he played well.

“I was impressed with what Zach did in his first extensive college action, and it’s tough. Center, to me, is the hardest position to play early, but he did it, and he did it well,” said Brown. “I was proud of not only of how he performed but how he prepared during the week because that gave him an opportunity.”

Uzebu had just won the starting job over redshirt freshman Brandon Yates at the conclusion of fall camp, but the suspension gave a young inexperienced Yates an opportunity.

“I thought Yates did a nice job. He started as a redshirt freshman. The unique situation for him is he didn’t get here till fall camp last year. So, he’s never gone through a summer conditioning program either year. And so, he’s really young physically, but I thought he did a nice job. He’s got to be more consistent. His good plays are really good, but there were too many negative plays by him, but he’s a guy that has a lot of potential, and he’ll continue to play and get better as we move along.”

Under a Neal Brown ran program, no starting job is safe, and Brown, who is in just his second year at the helm in Morgantown, appears to be breeding competition not only on the offensive line but at every position. 

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