Commodores just got another verbal commitment from a three-star offensive lineman. Earlier this summer, it was James Lewis, an athletic, basketball-playing, 6-5, 275-pound tackle prospect from Arlington, Tenn., with offers from Kentucky and Illinois. This week, it's Jake Bernstein, a physical, hard-nosed, 6-4, 275-pound guard prospect from Illinois with offers from Cincinnati, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Memphis and others.
This is great news. We needed running backs and went out and got two good ones last year. We needed wide receivers and went out and got four this year, and three of them will likely be on the field as true freshmen against Northwestern. And we needed O-linemen and have gotten two good ones already.
You know about our woes on the offensive line this season. Some ill-informed fans are blaming a lack of planning in our recruiting efforts. Not true. A returning starter (Reilly Lauer) left school before his fifth year, our best lineman (James Williams) got drummed out academically, two past recruits left school at least two years early (Rob Ashabranner and Richard Cagle), a solid backup can't keep his balance because of an inner ear problem (Chris Aaron) and a promising redshirt freshman wrecked a knee (Justin Cabbagestalk). That's six guys gone. So we're starting over.
But wait till next year. Here's what we'll have in 2011:
• Eight of this year's top nine linemen: Senior Kyle Fischer; juniors Ryan Seymour, Caleb Welchans and Jabo Burrow; and sophomores Wesley Johnson, Mylon Brown, James Kittredge, Logan Stewart
• Three raw talents, at least one of whom will have redshirted: Grant Ramsay, Chase White and Andrew Bridges
• Two talented true freshmen with the option of redshirting: Lewis and Bernstein
That's 13 solid offensive linemen, and 14 when Cabbagestalk returns. And of those 14, all but one of them are slated to return for the 2012 season.
I'd say that's good planning.