Scouting Combine Guards: Transfer Pays for Jackson
Part 1 of our two-part series on the guards includes Michigan’s Ben Bredeson, Louisiana-Lafayette’s Robert Hunt, Ohio State’s Jonah Jackson and LSU’s Damien Lewis. (Underclassmen are marked with an asterisk.)
Tremayne Anchrum, Clemson (6-2, 315): Anchrum was a two-year starter at right tackle, earning second-team all-ACC as a junior and first-team as a senior, when he was a team captain. To get ready, he trained in the offseason with former All-Pro offensive tackle Willie Anderson.
His father, also named Tremayne, played high school football in the state of Colorado and was all-state in football and basketball by the Denver Post before a standout basketball career at USC. Alabama coach Nick Saban recruited Anchrum via helicopter. He was nominated for the prestigious Senior CLASS Award, due in part to his seven-day service trip to Thailand. “My father always taught me to lead by encouraging others to follow me into battle, not simply telling people to go into battle themselves,” he told the school athletics site.
Ben Bredeson, Michigan (6-5, 325): Bredeson started 46 games at left guard in four seasons. He was a Freshman All-American, a three-time all-Big Ten selection and a second-team All-American as a senior.
At Hartland (Wis.) Arrowhead High School, he was Wisconsin’s Gatorade Player of the Year and winner of the Joe Thomas Award as the state’s top blocker. Before he was a football star, his love was hockey. "I think what got me going right away was that I played years of hockey and (had) learned how to crossover and turn and get around quick," he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "All the agility, it helps a lot in football once you figure out how to transition it right and learn what you can actually carry over.” He dreamed of playing for the Badgers but followed his brother to Michigan; Jack was a pitcher for the Wolverines. “Everyone likes to make it this big deal in my recruiting process,” he told the Michigan Daily. “It really was not. He was excited for me to come here cause it’s where I wanted to come. And when I say that, a lot of people don’t believe me. But we were raised by the same parents, with the same values, in the same house and it’s really no surprise that we both value the things that Michigan has to offer.” Another Bredeson is in the pipeline with Max, who is a high school pitcher and quarterback.
Robert Hunt, Louisiana-Lafayette (6-5, 322): Hunt started at guard as a freshman and sophomore and at right tackle as a junior and senior. He was first-team all-conference as a senior and was picked for the Senior Bowl.
Robert George Washington Handy Hunt was the unexpected sixth child for his mother, Kathi Handy. She had cervical cancer and was using contraceptives. One day, she was bleeding and feared the cancer had returned. Instead, her son arrived. Hunt was uprooted first by Hurricane Rita in 2005 and a fire in 2010. He overcame all of that – and much more – to emerge as a team leader. “I love it here, instead of back home — because home is so small,” Hunt told the Vermillion. “It’s been a blessing in my life, and I’m enjoying every bit of it.” At Burkeville (Texas) High School, he was a standout lineman in football and averaged a double-double in basketball. The football team was terrible, though. “We were getting killed,” Hunt told the Advertiser. “We were getting crushed, man. We were losing by like 70.” He was thrilled to move to tackle as a junior. “I feel like I’m an athletic guy. I know I’m an athletic guy,” he said in the Advertiser story. “I feel like I’m gonna be bigger and stronger than the little guys (he has to block).”
Cordel Iwuagwu, TCU (6-3, 311): Iwuagwu started every game in 2017 and 2019, earning an honorable mention on the all-Big 12 team as a senior. He started the first four games of the 2018 season before a season-ending injury.
Jonah Jackson, Ohio State (6-4, 305): Jackson was a graduate transfer from Rutgers. He immediately started at left guard for the Buckeyes and earned first-team all-Big Ten honors.
At Rutgers, he was honorable-mention all-Big Ten as a junior, when he started at right guard as a team captain. He started five games at center as a sophomore. “He was a captain at Rutgers — and that wasn’t a mistake,” Ohio State center Josh Myers told Cleveland.com. "He’s a great leader. He fit in so well. It can be touchy when a player comes in from another school. You have to really play it right because that’s a room of guys that have been there for four or five years and this is a guy that is trying to come in and start right and then he’s only got one year to do it. And you know, there can gonna be a lot of hostility in that room if the person who’s coming in goes about it the wrong way, but he didn’t do that at all.” In three seasons at Rutgers, Jackson’s teams went 7-29 and lost a combined 166-3 to Ohio State. “Honestly, if you told me I’d be here doing this right now, I’d probably laugh at you last year,” Jackson told Lettermen Row ahead of the Fiesta Bowl. “But it’s just a blessing. Just to have these guys here, everybody around me, being in this group and being a part of this culture and such a historical program — it’s incredible.” Losing again and again at Rutgers was difficult, but his work ethic was bred at his father’s car-detailing shop near Philadelphia. “I was just looking around and I was like, ’Well, I really am blessed to be in this position,” Jackson told the Columbus Dispatch. “I have no complaints.”
Solomon Kindley, Georgia* (6-4, 335): Kindley started 32 games at both guard spots during his three seasons with the Bulldogs. He played through an ankle injury in 2019. A three-star recruit, he developed into a top-notch starter. “I’m never complacent with anything I do,” Kindley told Dawg Nation before the season. “So, yes, I started the last 15 games or whatever it was last year; I’m trying to start every game this year. That’s the competitiveness we’ve got as an offensive line.”
Kindley was 9 pounds, 5 ounces at birth. He was an avid swimmer and once helped save a boy from drowning. Swimming helped “Big Fish” improve his athleticism. “When you can swim, coordinate your body, to be a lifeguard, to save a life if you have to, that’s a lot of athleticism,” said Deran Wiley, football coach at Jacksonville’s Raines High School, told Dawg Nation. “Most big guys are not coordinated. So that’s the one asset that he has that makes him different from a lot of folks.” He was too big to play football when he was a kid. “When I was younger I couldn't play football until I was in like the sixth or seventh grade,” he told the school athletics site. “I started playing basketball when I was like 5, so I can play basketball really good. That's what got me the way I am now, I've got good feet because of basketball. That was my first sport and I didn't know anything about football until I got to the sixth or seventh grade. He cut Debbie Cakes from his diet to get down to 330.
Shane Lemieux, Oregon (6-4, 316): Lemieux was a four-year starter at left guard. He was a first-team all-Pac-12 choice as a junior and senior.
For several years starting at age 6, Lemieux was tasked with helping take care of his younger sister. When his mom remarried, his stepfather and step-grandfather would change his life. “Both of them did a phenomenal job of raising me,” Lemieux told the Daily Emerald. “I didn’t really have a hobby, because I was always raising my sister and taking care of my mom. When I was introduced to football, it was everything for me. It was another opportunity for me to go hang out with my friends and it was something for me to do on the weekends.” Capped by the Rose Bowl, he ended his career with 51 consecutive starts. "I absolutely take a ton of pride in that streak," he told the Yakima Herald. "It's something that's very important to me. When my number is called I've always wanted to be ready to go and never let my teammates down. I prepare in every way possible, take care of myself and do all the things necessary to stay of the field."
Damien Lewis, LSU (6-3, 322): A junior-college transfer, he started all 27 career games at right guard. As a senior, he was voted second-team all-SEC but earned some All-American recognition. Along with center Lloyd Cushenberry, he was considered the heart and soul of the Tigers’ offense and was a key part of an offensive line that won the Joe Moore Award as the nation’s top front wall.
Lewis from crime-plagued and poverty-filled Canton, Miss. “It’s a little place where a couple of people make it out,” Lewis told the Advocate. “Too much gang activity. People want to just fight and drop out of school.” One of those people is his father, who spent several years in prison and missed most of Lewis’ formative years. Because of his grades, he didn’t receive any major-college offers. He wound up at Northwest Mississippi Community College. He dominated on the field, packed on the muscle and earned his associate’s degree in just 18 months. This time, the scholarship offers rolled in. And his father was paroled. “Not seeing my dad outside prison for eight to nine years … ” an emotional Damien started. “His son is ending up playing at a big-time school doing what he wants to do, pursuing his dreams. It’s going to be huge. We’ll go out to celebrate.”
Netane Muti, Fresno State* (6-3, 307): Muti was named an all-Mountain West honorable mention following his redshirt freshman season, whe started all 14 games in 2017. However, back-to-back season-ending injuries – an Achilles in 2018 and a Lisfranc foot injury in 2019 – limited him to a combined five games the past two seasons. Plus, he missed the 2016 season with a torn Achilles.
“A lot of things went into me making that decision,” he told USA Today of turning pro. “I sat down with my trusted circle and that’s the decision we reached. My injury history played a bit of a role in that. I didn’t wanna go back and get hurt again. I felt like right now is my best chance to go and compete at the next level. I’m trying to make it happen.” He was born in Tonga, where he played rugby, and went to school in high school in Hawaii, where he was exposed to football as part of the band. “When we used to play in the stands for the football games, I just saw them playing football and thought it was cool and went out,” he told the Fresno Bee.