2010 Bryant Hornets preview: Offensive line

Cody Elmore (85), Landon Pickett (62) and Justin Rauch (73) clear some space against Conway in 2009. (Photo by Rick Nation)By Rob Patrick

Photos by Rick Nation 

They are a quarterback’s security blanket, a running back’s entourage and, for a football coach, they’re the cool, soft pillow that helps him sleep at night.

Any team with a top-notch offensive line has a chance every night.

And the Bryant Hornets will, with the group deployed in 2010. One of the strengths of the team, they have size, strength, quickness and experience, invaluable especially for an offense with little experience elsewhere.[more]

Austin Johnson has orally committed to play in college at Henderson State University. (Photo by Rick Nation)

“I feel like it is one of our biggest strengths right now,” concurred Hornets head coach Paul Calley. “I thought we played well the other night (in the scrimmage against Pine Bluff).”

Colby Maness (6-5, 285) will start at left tackle with Steven Lacamu (5-10, 220) at left guard and Justin Rauch (5-11, 285) at center. The right guard spot will be shared by Jordan Murdock (5-10, 270) and Landon Pickett (5-11, 225) with Pickett backing up Rauch at center and Murdock at left tackle. Austin Johnson (6-3, 290), who has recently committed orally to play in college at Henderson State University next year, starts at right tackle with Cody Elmore (6-2, 210) at tight end along with Josh Hampton (6-2, 255). All are seniors.

Rauch, Johnson and Pickett started most of the time last year. The others gained playing experience including Lacamu who lined up in the backfield at times as part of a blocking contingent to record-setting running back Chris Rycraw.

“A.J.’s put on about 50 pounds since last year,” Calley said. “His technique has improved tremendously. He’s got a bright future ahead of him. He’s going to do nothing but get better.

“Pickett was slowed by an injury,” the coach continued. “He’s got great feet, got great football instincts and he’s really quick. He was very solid as a starter most of last year and he’s also a very good center.”

Of Rauch, Calley said, “He continues to get better. He’s impressed me throughout practice and, on the film of the scrimmage. He’s really agile for such a big guy. He’s almost 300 pounds but he’s got great feet.”

The coach called Lacamu, “probably the best pulling guard that we have.

“He’s always going to find the defender,” Calley continued. He’s always seems to be in the right spot and he’s not scared to hit you. He’s the smallest one but he still packs a punch and that’s what makes him so good.

“Maness has improved tremendously since last season,” said the coach who noted that 2009 was the tackle’s first year to play. “He’s got such natural ability. Because he’s so big and strong and long that I think he can be a really effective tackle, especially on the left side, before the season’s over with.

“Murdock’s another big guy, low to the ground, low center of gravity that has gotten better,” Calley added. “He knows the system better now and playing him at two positions gives us added depth. I feel good about him at guard more that tackle because he’s practiced at guard more but I think he can play either position. He’s strong and he wants to do well. That means a lot.”

At tight end, Calley said, “Elmore’s hands are suspect. He catches some balls and he drops some but he’s worked on his blocking technique. He’s got to get a little bit stronger but I think he’s starting to understand what we need from him and he’s improving also.”

Hampton, a stalwart on the defensive line who's already been offered by Ouachita Baptist University, caught three passes for 26 yards at tight end last year but his devastating blocks make him invaluable in short yardage.

Senior offensive linemen, from left, Cody Elmore, Austin Johnson, Jordan Murdock, Landon Pickett, Justin Rauch, Steven Lacamu, Colby Maness, Bryan Bowden and Brannon Smith. (Photo by Rick Nation)

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