VIDEO: Kevin Day Interview
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. - This is the sixth part in an eight-part series breaking down each of Carson-Newman football's positions. Kevin Day breaks down the offensive line and tight ends for 2017.
Carson-Newman has to replace AFCA Good Works Team member Dan Gallman and All-SAC selection Austin Lewis. However, just about every Eagle who returns from last season has some starting experience.
"The good news is that we have a young, old offensive line," Day said. "Because of the injuries last year, so many guys got meaningful reps in meaningful games. They know what it's like to play college football. Even though you have three true sophomore and more than that who will get playing time, they already have significant playing time."
Jordan Seal, Phillip McDowell, Tavon Murray, Dillon Wilson, Stokes Rowe and Micah Pressley all grabbed starting experience last year along the offensive line. With the exception of Seal, who finished the year starting eight straight games, every player just mentioned also missed multiple games due to injury last year as well.
C-N started 11 different five-man fronts in 11 games last season.
"We will make mistakes out of youth," Day said. "However, there is great promise, because they have a desire every day to get better. They are willing to do whatever it takes to get that job done. They've done a great job of coming together and bringing one another up. They are doing a phenomenal job making sure that everyone knows what's going on and that anyone can step in and not miss a beat."
Seal has the accolades even for a sophomore. The Morristown East product earned All-SAC honors in the preseason. Seal tallied a whopping 13 knockdowns in his seven starts last year, the second most on the team overall, but the most knockdowns per game on the team. He matched single-game school record with a four-knockdown effort against Limestone (10/29).
"Jordan is extremely athletic," Day said. "He can make a mistake early in the play and get out of it because of that athleticism. It's a very unique skill set that he has that makes him a big guy who can get the job done in a position that requires you to be low."
Pressley and Rowe are the veterans in the group and two of five seniors on offense as a whole. Rowe started the Eagles' first three games last year before getting dinged up, while Pressley appeared in five games.
"They're geniuses," Day said. "Stokes is pre-med, and Micah is one of the few football players to successfully pull off nursing as a major. They embrace the fact that there's competition. They have done a great job of showing the youth of the best way to do things."
At tight end, the Eagles have Trevor Makarov and converted defensive end Jon Mason at their disposal.
"Two tight ends battling for the same spot and battling for playing time are pushing this entire group along," Day said. "They refuse to not be the very best. Trevor refuses to lose any drill. Jon, coming from defense, having never played offense before, took to the position naturally and finds himself staring down playing time."
Carson-Newman football's position previews continue Tuesday with special teams.