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Projecting the Depth Chart: Offensive Line

Most of the line’s starting jobs are spoken for, but there are still some other spots to hand out.

Andrew Higley/University of Cincinnati

Question marks along the offensive line can be the first sign of real trouble for a program. Luckily for the Cincinnati Bearcats, there are not many puzzles to be solved up front, at least in terms of the starting posts. Figuring out who will be first off the bench is a bit trickier.

Definite Starters

Deyshawn Bond, C

The second-team All-American Athletic Conference center and Rimington Trophy contender started in 12 games last season. If he isn’t at the very top of the depth chart at center something went terribly wrong.

Ryan Leahy, OG

Another second-team all-league choice, Leahy started in all 13 games last season and will continue to build on that games started streak in 2016.

Idarius Ray, OG

Ray has the experience (a senior who started in nine games in 2015) and the size (6’6", 312 pounds) that makes him a no-brainer to be a starter defending the UC backfield.

Position Battles

The interior of the line will be a force most defensive lines will be unable to break. However, now that Parker Ehinger and Justin Murray have moved on, getting the right protection on the edges will be a critical focus. Korey Cunningham, Delonte Murray, David Niehaus and Ryan Stout are the most likely candidates to fill those slots at least if game experience is all that matters.

Cunningham, a 6’6", 305-pound junior could fit in nicely flanking either Leahy or Ray. Stout only got into one game last season but the former three-star prospect could be in for a big boost in playing time now that the line has some openings. Niehaus got into four games last season and Delonte Murray is a former JUCO transfer who could be in line for a promotion. Speaking of JUCO transfers, Kendall Calhoun is a three-star recruit who will likely be given a chance to play right away.

Filling in the gaps from there will be an ongoing process, considering there are a host of new players in the mix and many of them are young. With six redshirt freshman and two true rookies, UC will be working a number of new faces into the rotation.

Final Projection

First Team

Deyshawn Bond, C

Ryan Leahy, OG

Idarius Ray, OG

Korey Cunningham, OT

Ryan Stout, OT

The first three are obvious. Cunningham and Stout are both fortunate enough to not have such entrenched players in their way at tackle, as the departure of Ehinger and Justin Murray opened up spots for them. Niehaus and Delonte Murray are both better suited to playing on the interior and therefore will likely not be pushing for starting gigs since those posts are filled.

Second Team

David Niehaus, C

Delonte Murray, OG

Will Steur, OG

Kendall Calhoun, OT

Reed Armagost, OT

If UC wasn’t so stacked at the interior line positions, Niehaus and Delonte Murray would be fine starters. Should Bond, Leahy or Ray go down for extended periods, and let’s hope that’s not the case, the Bearcats have excellent contingency plans.

Steur is a junior who has played in five games over the previous two seasons. Even that limited experience may be enough to push him ahead of some of the young bloods.

Calhoun was named the No. 15 JUCO offensive tackle by ESPN so he should get playing time and potentially push Cunningham and Stout for a starting job.

After redshirting for a year, Armagost, a two-star recruit who came to UC a bit undersized, could get a look at offensive tackle. Evan Mallory and Tyler McGarr were both three-star recruits and also redshirted last season, but both are projected to play on the inside. Of those two, Mallory has the best chance to be moved from guard to tackle should the needs arise.