Junior right tackle Tyrone Novikoff (6-7, 310)
A WEEK AND A HALF AGO, FOLLOWING THE FINAL SCRIMMAGE OF FALL CAMP, COACH AKEY CONFIRMED a starting offensive line had been selected. The group is enormous, averaging 6-foot-4 and 316-pounds tackle-to-tackle. What the group lacks in experience they make up for with moxie and talent, including a preseason All-WAC pick at left tackle, a JC Gridwire All-American at guard, and a loaded depth chart.
It took nearly eight months, but about two weeks ago the Idaho coaching staff made their final selection for the 2010 starting offensive line. The biggest battle was for left guard and center, positions vacated by NFL first round pick Mike Iupati (guard) and 2nd Team All-WAC selection Irvin Stevens.
From left to right: Tyrone Novikoff (6-7, 310), Tevita Halaholo (6-5, 330), Clell Hasenbank (6-2, 289), Sam Tupua (6-2, 340), Matt Cleveland (6-4, 311).|
The unit has had two steady weeks to practice without substitutions, and the reports we are getting state that the line is beginning to mesh. Cleveland the leader, Tupua the powerful drive blocker, Hasenbank making the calls, and the right side of the line is flat-out enormous. The line overall averages an impressive 6-foot-4, 316-pounds tackle-to-tackle, and is comprised of two seniors and three juniors.
Below is a quick breakdown for each starter, as well as the top three backups.
#70 Matt Cleveland, 6-4, 311, Jr
The most experienced of the 2010 Vandal line, Cleveland started every game last year at left tackle and is considered a preseason All-WAC pick for 2010. He would have been a two year starter (being named the starting LT as a redshirt freshman in 2008), but a fall camp injury forced him to miss the entire '08 season. An aggressive lineman with a mean streak, he is responsible for watching Enderle's blind side. And as the most experienced returning lineman, he is also responsible for leading Idaho's newly rebuilt offensive front going into 2010.
#50 Sam Tupua, 6-2, 340, Jr
Tupua joined the program in January after an impressive career at Palomar College, picking Idaho over offers from Nevada, Southern Miss and New Mexico State. He earned looks at both center and left guard in spring and fall camp, before settling in at guard. He's shed 35 pounds since signing day, and although he was slowed with an injury for much of spring camp, has proven to be an exceptional addition to the Vandal front line and a powerful run blocking athlete.
#71 Clell Hasenbank, 6-2, 287, Senior
Hasenbank joined the program two years ago out of College of the Siskiyous and has worked his way to the top of the center depth chart this fall. Idaho's number one backup at center last fall, he took every opportunity at playing time he could get. For his efforts has been rewarded by working extensively with the first unit this offseason. Hasenbank has a knowledge of the offense that comes with years in the system, and is poised to lead the Vandal 0-line this fall.
#61 Tevita Halaholo, 6-5, 330, Senior
Halaholo joined the program last year as a redshirt junior and was one of Idaho's top backups all season. At College of San Mateo he had a decorated career, winning almost every honor possible for a junior college offensive lineman, headlined by being named a JC Gridwire All American. His list of honors include being named a Football Coaches All-American, All-California Region 1, and a First Team All Nor-Cal selection. At Idaho this spring and fall he has settled into the top right guard position, and with his size and strength gives Idaho a powerful right side punch.
#67 Tyrone Novikoff, 6-7, 310, Jr
Monstrous lineman Tyrone Novikoff earned his stripes last fall as a redshirt sophomore. He could often be seen coming in on double-tight sets, lining up as a tightend next to former right tackle Bryce Sinclair. When Iupati went down briefly for a few snaps last year, it was Novikoff that stepped in at guard for the All-American. Considered an athlete that Idaho could line up at guard or tackle, Novikoff has anchored the right side of the line the entire offseason and is poised for a breakout 2010 campaign.
Below is the future of the Vandal offensive line, represented by a true freshman, a redshirt freshman, and redshirt sophomore. Others such as Ron Mallory, Charles Wiley and rest of the young depth chart continue to make significant progress, strengthening the Idaho depth chart.
#74 Mike Marboe, 6-2, 298, True Freshman
Generally considered one of the top overall recruits in the 2010 Idaho class, Marboe has not disappointed anybody since arriving on campus (he completed high school a semester early and was at Idaho for spring drills). Ranked the No.19 center in the country by Scout.com as a senior, he also earned a 3-star rating for his efforts -- there is little question of his talent or potential. He came to Moscow in exceptional condition, and whatever he lacks in collegiate experience he more than makes up for in physical ability. Currently listed the No.2 center, the staff will likely try to redshirt him this fall. But if Hasenbank falters or is injured, look for Marboe to get the nod at center. Regardless, he will be a player to watch in the future at Idaho.
#68 Guy Reynolds, 6-2, 301, RS-Sophomore
Considered one of Idaho's top line recruits in the 2008 class (ranked the No.19 center in the nation by Scout.com as a senior), Reynolds hit the conditioning regimen hard last offseason and battled throughout spring and fall camp at both center and guard, getting numerous reps with the No.1 offense. Look for Reynolds' number to be called if either guard falters this fall.
#77 Jordan Johnson, 6-5.5, 310, RS-Freshman
Another offensive line gem recruited by Coach Finn out of the high school ranks, Johnson was considered the No.94 offensive tackle prospect in the country by Scout.com as a senior and signed with Idaho as part of the 2009 recruiting class. He is a bit of a 'tweener, meaning he could line up for Idaho in the future at either tackle or guard for the Vandals. Look for Johnson to start getting reps this fall on special teams, and to get his shot if one of the starters goes down.