With the 2018 season right around the corner, The Chronicle breaks down each of the eight major position groups: quarterbacks, running backs, receivers and tight ends, offensive line, defensive line, defensive backs, linebackers and specialists.
The backbone of any great offense is a dominant offensive line. Stability is key in crafting such a unit, as communication and experience are as important as talent and size up front. Unfortunately for Duke, three offensive line starters and their coach moved on from the team after last season. New offensive line coach Jim Bridge, who replaces Marcus Johnson, may have his hands full in forming a formidable group.
Key players lost: Evan Lisle, Gabe Brandner and Austin Davis
In Lisle, Brandner and Davis, the Blue Devils lost 74 combined starts and 5,682 snaps of game experience. It will certainly be nearly impossible to replace this level of production, and quarterback Daniel Jones may be left uncomfortable in the pocket without his former teammates.
Projected starters: Christian Harris, Julian Santos, Zach Harmon, Rakavius Chambers, Robert Kraeling
Santos and Harmon return to the line this season as the only two returning starters, although Harmon will shift back to center, his natural position, from right guard. Harris and Kraeling slide into the open tackle spots and will be tasked with leading the charge in pass protection. Moving into Harmon’s spot at guard is Rakavius Chambers, who appeared in 441 snaps as a true freshman.
Dark horse: Jack Wohlabaugh
Wohlabaugh, who became the second Ohio State offensive lineman to transfer to Duke in the last three years, has pedigree—the former four-star recruit’s father was for a time the highest-paid center in NFL history. Although Harmon blocks Wohlabaugh’s path to playing time this fall, the Akron, Ohio native may shift to guard.
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