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OwlBytes: 2023 FAU Spring Practice March 14th - Offensive Line & Notes

Spring camp for FAU football has finally begun this morning in preparation for the 2023 season in the fall.

This time, however, will be the first with head coach Tom Herman taking charge.

"I've absolutely fallen in love with this team," Herman said. "They're full of pleasers, they're guys that want to win, they want to be shown how to win. We got a lot of room for improvement, but it was very cathartic to get back out there and and watch the guys run around a little bit."

The team was in helmets and shoulder pads today and will do that once more on Thursday before going full pads on Saturday after getting their required day off on Friday.

"We're gonna learn how to practice and we're gonna demand effort and ball security, and we'll teach everything else," Herman said.

The offensive line position is seen as having a lot of potential on FAU's roster. Losing Nick Weber and Brenden Bordner due to maxing out their eligibility, notable returning starters include Marquice Robinson and Chaz Neal while Jordan Church and Wallace Unamba headline the newcomers who add a lot of promise to the position.

As training camp starts to take shape, here is the first of our parliament Owl position previews, beginning with three names on the offensive line, and some notes from today's media availability.

On The Line

  • Expected to Lead Marquice Robinson: Returning for his sixth and last season in the fall, Robinson will showcase his leadership as a veteran among a group of mainly youngsters in the Owls' offensive line. The 6'4, 320 lb lineman has experienced a lot with the team since being a 2018 commit from Austin High School. His increased workload in 2019, which included a start in the Boca Raton Bowl that saw FAU dominate SMU 52-28, garnered him praise after landing on C-USA's All-Freshman team. He continued to be a mainstay in the starting rotation from then on. In 2022, he appeared in all of FAU's 12 regular-season games including 10 starts. Redshirt senior Chaz Neal is a close second. Transferring from FSU in 2021, he started every game for the Owls during the 2022 season and will seek to raise the level of his game to benefit those at the position, especially the freshmen.

  • Keep An Eye On Wallace Unamba: Unamba (pictured) signed with FAU earlier this year coming out of Kilgore Community College, choosing the Owls over Georgia Southern and East Carolina. Ranked as a three-star player by 247Sports, the 6'6, 332 lb JUCO product helped Kilgore finish with an 8-4 record while receiving NJCAA All-American Honors. Jordan Church is also worth keeping notes on. Joining the team alongside Unamba, Church picked FAU over FSU, Louisville, Tennessee, among others. Receiving a 3-star evaluation from 247Sports, the 6'4, 325 lb lineman was highly productive during his time at IMG Academy, winning First Team All-County and Third Team All-State honors with his strength and effectiveness.

  • Dark Horse Candidate Woody Jean: This year's freshman signees will have a chance to shine, and Jean could be one of them. The 6'5, 315 lb transferred to FAU from the University of Arizona. He rode on the Wildcats' bench for the last two seasons, only making three appearances which occurred during the shortened COVID-19 season in 2020. Prior to that, he was a key cog in one of the best high school football programs in the country with Deerfield Beach High School, helping the Bucks finish with a 10-4 record in his last year in 2019. He obtained a 3-star ranking from 247Sports before committing to Arizona. Now with FAU, he looks to make the most of his second-chance opportunity under Herman.

OwlBytes for March 14th

  • Teaching Moments for a Retooled O-Line Of the 16 linemen listed on the roster, 5 are newcomers. With the amount of depth, youth and potential there is at the position, Herman has expressed optimism in seeing what they are capable of once they are fully padded. "One thing that has stood out to me is how well we can run," Herman said. "For young guys that are 320 or 330 lbs, that they can get out and go on screens and different things like that, they are very athletic for big guys." He was highly complimentary of offensive line coach Ed Warinner (phot center below) and strength and conditioning coach Joey Guarascio. "Those two guys have been the guys that protect our men," Herman said. "It's the experience, the attention to detail, and Coach Warinner has done that at the highest of levels."

  • Quarterback Evaluation Competition at quarterback will be intriguing. Following the departure of last's year starter N'Kosi Perry, Herman finds himself in a peculiar situation of who will stand out from the rest. "We've got a guy in Tyriq Starks that has got a lot of talent. We need to get it out of him," Herman said. He also stated that Michael Johnson Jr. is undergoing injury rehab and will not participate in spring practice. That mainly leaves Daniel Richardson and Ben Ballard remaining, who were active in the drills with their passing. "We need that position to be very productive and reliable, so it'll be one that we will be watching very closely throughout the spring," Herman said.

  • Shorthanded at Inside Linebacker FAU has taken a hit to their depth at inside linebacker. Jamie Pettway, who was seen walking with a sling on his right arm, is out to begin spring practice. He became more heavily involved with the Owls' defense towards the end of last year, putting up 51 total tackles including 21 solo in 10 appearances. "The inside linebacker spot is one we desperately need to keep our eye on and develop guys quickly at that position because it's thin and a bit inexperienced too," Herman said. As Pettway's injury alongside Eddie Williams' knee rehab hinders what is a position with limited depth, it is possible that Justice Cross or Makai Sawtelle could take the opportunity to show what they can provide in their absences.

Video Play

Head Coach Tom Herman headlines Video Play.

Today was the first of 15 scheduled sessions the Owls will hold for the Spring, which will be slotted over a five-week period of time, and conclude with the Spring Game on April 15th.

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