New offensive line coach Dwayne Ledford will have his work cut out for him as we approach kickoff with three starters gone from the offensive line. Center Quinton Schooley, guard Alex Barr, and All-American tackle Joe Thuney all will need replacements. There is going to be a little bit of sorting out to do along the line, but the addition of a pretty impressive graduate transfer center has made things that much easier.
Joseph Scelfo is that transfer, and he should be the man in the middle when the first snap is taken this year. Scelfo, who was an all-conference selection during his junior season at South Alabama, brings 25 starts worth of experience at center to a team that returns zero total. He’ll also allow junior Tony Adams to remain at guard, which is Adams’ primary position. Adams seamlessly moved to center for one game after Schooley left with an injury against UNC in 2014, and he was the best option to take over there prior to Scelfo joining the program.
Adams was held out in the spring with an injury, but at 100% he’s a sure thing to start, and Scelfo is probably pretty close to a sure thing as well. After those two though, things start to get a little messier. Redshirt sophomore Will Richardson started nine games at right tackle last season, but a lengthy suspension leaves a lot of questions about his situation when he returns. Tyler Jones saw time last year at both tackle and guard. The redshirt sophomore was the expected starter at one of the two tackle spots last year until some late shuffling sent him to a backup role. He’s a good bet to find a starting spot somewhere along the line.
Everybody’s favorite offensive lineman is Emanuel McGirt. Big expectations combined with his spurning of UNC to come to Raleigh have made things that way. He looked physically ready at the spring game and started at left tackle, but lack of experience compared to the other leading candidates puts him at a disadvantage. McGirt, Jones, and (assuming everything is good with his return to the team) Richardson are probably the top three candidates to fill the two tackle spots. Redshirt freshman Aaron Wiltz would probably be fourth in line.
The left guard spot opposite Tony Adams also has a few different players fighting for a starting spot there. The coaches seem to be big fans of redshirt sophomore Garrett Bradbury, who bounced around to a few different positions before landing on the offensive line. He played some center this spring, but should be a leading player to claim that guard spot at the start of the season. Tyler Jones is currently listed as a tackle, but it’s feasible that he could slide into that guard spot as well. Graduate student Bryce Kennedy, defensive tackle convert Coult Culler, and gigantic person Terronne Prescod are probably second tier candidates for the job.
Obviously there’s a good deal of uncertainty along the line. Hopefully we’ll hear a bunch of really good things in the fall and have a cemented starting five by the time William & Mary comes to town.