Rattlers’ offensive line showing improvement

Quarterback Ryan Stanley had plenty of praise for the Rattlers’ offensive line after Saturday’s scrimmage.
Photo courtesy FAMU athletics

By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer

A little lateral pass from FAMU quarterback Ryan Stanley to Ricky Henrilus drew a crowd. The play seemed to be going nowhere.

It seemed every man on the offensive line pushed his way to the ball. Henrilus found a hole and scampered 65-yards.
Reminded of the play at the end of the Rattlers’ second scrimmage last Saturday, Stanley said it’s proof of how far the players in the trenches have come from last season.

“Our starting five is doing a real good job,” Stanley said. “They have given us good looks and when we get certain pressure they put the protection. They’ve been doing a great job all camp; protecting me and opening holes for the running backs.”

There is obvious respect for the Rattlers’ offensive line from coaches around the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, too. They selected three players to all-conference teams, making FAMU the only team in the conference to have as many offensive linemen named for the pre-season honor.

Sophomore Obinna Nwanko made third team, while Osman Aguilera and Loubens Polinice made the second team.

The offensive line assembled from first-string players seemingly is the deepet that coach Alex Wood has fielded in his three seasons at the helm. The unit has more depth with 17 players, five more than last season.

“They are making gains,” Wood said. “They are making strides.”

The depth isn’t lost on center Aguilera, who along with left tackle Rashad Williams, are the lone seniors on the first team.

“We have good guys; from the ones, twos and threes,” Aguilera said. “We see a lot of guys coming along and getting better every day. If anybody goes down you’ve got the next guy to come in.”

Leading all of that, of course, is Aguilera. He is doing so from a position that he’s played his entire career until the last three seasons when he played right guard.
“I like being the brains of the operation; being the captain and leading everybody,” he said. “It feels good to come back at my natural position. I just have to put people in the dirt.”

He is captain of a line that last season gave up 18 sacks that left it third highest among the 11 teams in the league. This year their goal is to keep Stanley or whoever is under center upright in every game.

They are that much in synch with their quarterbacks, said Williams. Especially when Stanley or Vincent Jefferies are directing the offense.

“They are pretty much the same, you can’t really tell the difference,” he said. “It might be Vince (under center) and I might think it’s Ryan.

As a unit, they are still a work in progress that Williams said is getting close to being complete in time for the season opener on Aug. 26 against Texas Southern.
“We are five players; one mind,” he said. “We don’t even have to talk to each other. We are together going through it.”

A little more than three weeks after the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference name three offensive linemen to the all-conference team for the pre-season, they seem to be validating the choice.

No wonder that quarterback Ryan Stanley, who is in a close competition for the starting job, is praising them in pre-season camp.