Clay: OL Question: Heinrich

I enjoyed you OL article and it is great to see this much competition.
I am curious about Jake Heinrich. I really liked his potential when we signed him.
How is he progressing?

I probably missed an update along the way, but in following the latest on our OL progress I notice that Jalen Merrick is no longer being mentioned. He was a highly regarded talent a couple yrs back. Any updates you can share?

He was working with the second-team OL at right tackle today.

Merrick is one of those rolling in with the second team at right tackle. The thought that I hear mentioned most often about Merrick is just a great athlete, but not a great feel for playing the offensive line. Experience is just so much about what happens up front. He played very little high school football.

I didn’t notice where Heinrich is working today. I spent more time on the defensive end of the field in the 90 minutes we were out there today.

Uh guys my question was about Heinrich, not Merrick?

Yeah, ah, I said I didn’t notice where Heinrich was playing. So far, he’s just not been a factor.

So what do you do with a massive, great athlete like that Clay? Would it be easier for him to play on the D-line? Would he be effective as a jumbo back or lead blocker in short yardage and goal line situations? I remember the frustration of not being able to pick up a half yard when we needed it last year. Especially the A$M game. I sure hope we find some way to utilize these good athlete, not so good football players like Bell and Merrick.

If he is making progress then you leave him at OL. He will only be a redshirt sophomore this upcoming fall so he will have two more years to push for a starting spot.

Believe he will be redshirt freshman.

Merrick is a third-year sophomore. Heinrich is a redshirt freshman.

I don’t think Merrick has shown the aggressive nature to make me think he’d be a decent convert to defensive line.

The difference between good and great OL’s are stars and seasons. You can have a young OL if they are all very highly ranked. You can have a very good experienced line made up of 3 and 4 stars. When you get 4th and 5th year seniors that are 4 and 5 stars you have something special. OL takes time.

Well stated for sure and he has 2 years to get it together.

Star-gazer propaganda.

Replace “3 and 4 stars” with “talented players”, and “4 and 5 stars” with “elite talent”, and the above makes sense. As written, it gives way too much credibility to the greatly flawed "star’ system.

There IS a different in talent, and it DOES make a difference. But merely chasing/counting “stars” is not the way to go; better for our coaches to go after what their instincts, eyes and HS coaches tell them are the most talented athletes with the best work ethic, and respected by their peers. Star systems focus way too much on height, weight, 40 times and vertical jump. Those things can matter, but using them alone to grade talent is woefully inadequate and inaccurate.

Where the OL is concerned, specifically, I’d say work ethic - in the weight room and on the field - of the five man UNIT . . . is every bit as important as raw talent.

Excellent point Wiz. If stars were indicators of O-line performance,Wallace and Merrick would be a lock for starting positions right now. They are not. I know of no other position that produces more walk on to scholarship players and even starters, than O-Line. You can conceivably be a great skill position player without a great work ethic. You can not be even an adequate O-lineman without a great work ethic and some smarts. I’m not knocking Wallace and Merrick. They may yet develop into very good players. That will be determined by factors other than their star rankings however.

My point being that you CAN have a true Freshman that is an absolute stud. Highly unlikely that he would not carry a high star rating as he would have been on someones radar. You can have lower rated players that develop and perform well past their HS rating. The magic is when you can get very talented players playing with each other for multiple years. That is why some of the best lines play at schools that draw top talent. Ideally, your OL will red-shirt and play all 5 years.

Just look at what this line could have looked like if everyone red-shirted and stayed for 5 years. Would you like to add Denver and Skipper to this line? Great teams do not have to force OL to play early.