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Vanderbilt’s offensive line became a patchwork overnight

This could have been an experienced unit. Instead, it’s going to rely on transfers and young players.

NCAA Football: UNLV at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Vanderbilt offensive line was a problem area in 2019, but at the end of the season, you could at least point to the fact that just about everybody on that unit would be back in 2020, with a potential All-SEC player at left tackle.

Instead, after a transfer and three opt-outs due to COVID-19, Vanderbilt’s offensive line suddenly enters 2020 as a patchwork that will have to turn into a cohesive unit in a hurry. This isn’t to say that the offensive line has no experience. Tyler Steen is the line’s lone returnee who started all twelve games at right tackle a year ago, and Grant Miller (seven starts) and Dan Dawkins (two starts) at least have some starting experience.

And Vanderbilt did add a couple of graduate transfers in the offseason. Connor Mignone was a two-time First-Team All-Northeast Conference selection at Central Connecticut State, where he played for new offensive line coach Peter Rossomando, and Michigan graduate transfer Stephen Spanellis appeared in 37 games over three years for the Wolverines.

Got all that? Good, because the remaining offensive linemen on the roster have combined to play in one college game. Julian Hernandez briefly appeared in the ETSU game last season while redshirting; aside from him, Vanderbilt has eight more offensive linemen on the roster who have yet to play a college snap.

You can probably cobble together an okay starting unit here — Steen and Spanellis at the tackle spots, Miller, Dawkins, and Mignone (in some combination) filling the interior — but the lack of depth here is utterly scary. (And that’s before you get into the part where the offensive line last year was mostly ineffective, and that was with Devin Cochran anchoring the left side.)

Oh, right: and with the nonconference schedule cancelled, this unit will have to figure out how to work together with its first live reps coming against Texas A&M, followed by LSU. This isn’t going to be fun.