The offseason hype and accolades for the Chattanooga Mocs football program have been primarily focused on the defensive side of the ball. Five UTC defenders made the preseason All-Southern Conference team and four have earned preseason All-American nods.
This might be one of the reasons the offensive line is the most overlooked unit on the team. UTC was banged up for the majority of 2012, with starting left tackle Brandon Morgan (Hoover, Ala.) going out midway through the season and left guard Synjen Herren (Dalton, Ga.) playing with a sore shoulder.
Both missed spring practice with new offensive coordinator Jeff Durden,, but both are now back and healthy for 2013. All of the sudden, the Mocs have a very experienced unit with seven returning letterwinners.
Five returners have started at least seven games in their careers, including Herren (6-4, 313) who started every game as a freshman despite his nagging injury. He is fully recovered from the offseason surgery that kept him out of spring practice and is back at No. 1 on the depth chart at left guard. Morgan (6-2, 290) has started 12 games over the last two seasons and is also working with the first group and left tackle.
Other returning starters include seniors Hunter Dockery (Newport, Tenn.) and Kevin Revis (Dayton, Tenn.) and junior Patrick Sutton (Sevierville, Tenn.). Revis (6-2, 280) is a preseason second team All-SoCon pick. He is a two-year starter after transferring from Tennessee in 2011.
Dockery (6-5, 305) took over at left tackle for Morgan and started the last seven games. He switched sides and is battling for the top spot at right tackle with redshirt freshman Corey Levin (Dacula, Ga.). Levin (6-5, 275) is currently working with the first group, but will have to beat out Dockery’s experience to win the job.
Sutton (6-1, 275) is the only offensive returner who has started every game over the last two years. He is back in the middle and competing with junior Shaun Hill (Bethlehem, Ga.) at center. Hill (6-3, 285) has seen action in seven games over the last two years. Sophomore Casey Hybarger (Cleveland, Tenn.) is the only other returner with game action. The 6-5, 300-pounder, played in two games at right tackle last season.
“We have a lot of returners,” stated offensive line coach Alex Atkins. “We are returning four guys who played a lot of games for us. We are getting Brandon Morgan back, so we have about five guys who played in nearly every game last year. That is something a lot of teams don’t have. We have a bunch of young guys who took reps in the spring, so we are starting to get to where we need to be as far as depth and having experience on the front line.”
The Mocs were seventh in the SoCon in rushing offense last season at 166.4 yards-per-game. UTC was also No. 7 in the league, allowing 2.4 sacks per game. With the amount of talented experience returning, everyone expects those numbers to increase.
“We need to take it to another step this year because we have all played together so much,” stated Revis. “We all know what to expect from each other. We need to take that next step and start being a great offensive line instead of being average. We really need our younger guys to step up, come in there and give us some depth.”
One of those young guys is Revis’s younger brother Jacob. At 6-3 and 295 pounds, Jacob is currently No. 3 at center. He and fellow freshman Logan Teichman (Brentwood, Tenn.) are both two-star prep prospects who will be battle for playing time as true freshmen.
Marshall transfer Channing Smith (Kermit, W.Va.) is another newcomer expected to make an impact. At 6-4 and 280 pounds, he is currently No. 2 on the depth chart at left guard.
“I think we are going to be pretty good,” added Sutton. “The difference between this year and last year is that we have way more depth. If somebody went down last year, we were really scratching to see what we had and trying to get different people in. This year we have nine good people who can play, and Channing can play any position – center, guard or tackle – and there’s Shaun behind me. You have three or four good offensive tackles so the biggest thing we are working on is becoming a tough offensive line.”
Freshmen Jose Bruno (Clarksville, Tenn.), Robert Hill (Buford, Ga.), Brenton Leeper (Kingsport, Tenn.) and Hunter Townson (Ider, Ala.) all went through spring practice and add depth across the line. True freshman Alex Hooper (Cleveland, Tenn.) is also competing on the line.
“I like our offensive line,” stated UTC head coach Russ Huesman. “I think that they are really good workers. We were a little banged up with Synjen Herren and his shoulder and Brandon Morgan out. It’s good to have them back. You can never say it is a good thing, but it gave Hunter Dockery a lot of snaps so we have a lot of kids with experience. I like some of our young guys. I think Corey Levin is going to be really good and Shaun Hill is doing a nice job. I think we have seven or eight that can play and help us this year.”
The Mocs open the 2013 season on Thursday, Aug. 29, against UT Martin. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. (E.D.T.) and tickets are on sale now on GoMocs.com or by calling the UTC Ticket Office at (423) 266-MOCS (6627). Be sure to click here for more information on getting a FREE T-shirt by taking the “Tried & True Blue Pledge.”
2013 Offensive Line Depth Chart
|RT||62||Corey Levin||6-5||275||Fr.-RS||Dacula, Ga.||Sat out last season as a redshirt|
|75||Hunter Dockery||6-5||305||Sr.-3L||Newport, Tenn.||Played in all 11 games...started last seven|
|79||Casey Hybarger||6-5||300||So.-1L||Cleveland, Tenn.||Played in two games off the bench|
|RG||52||Kevin Revis||6-3||280||Sr.-2L||Dayton, Tenn.||Started all 11 games|
|54||Robert Hill||6-2||280||Fr.-RS||Buford, Ga.||All-area prep player ... sat out as a redshirt|
|69||Jose Bruno||6-2||285||Fr.-RS||Clarksville, Tenn.||Sat out last season as a redshirt|
|C||72||Patrick Sutton||6-1||275||Jr.-2L||Sevierville, Tenn.||Former walk-on who has started every game of his career|
|50||Shaun Hill||6-3||285||Jr.-2L||Bethlehem, Ga.||Played in seven games in his career|
|53||Jacob Revis||6-3||295||Fr.-HS||Dayton, Tenn.||All-state as a prep player|
|LG||74||Synjen Herren||6-4||315||So.-1L||Dalton, Ga.||Started every game last year|
|71||Channing Smith||6-4||280||So.-TR||Kermit, W.Va.||Transfer from Marshall|
|63||Brenton Leeper||6-2||305||Fr.-RS||Kingsport, Tenn.||Sat out last year as a redshirt|
|LT||73||Brandon Morgan||6-2||290||Jr.-2L||Hoover, Ala.||Started first four games in 2012 before an injury|
|78||Logan Teichman||6-4||270||Fr.-HS||Brentwood, Tenn.||Two-star prep prospect|
|76||Alex Hooper||6-1||310||Fr.-HS||Cleveland, Tenn.||All-district prep player|
|70||Hunter Townson||6-4||280||Fr.-HS||Ider, Ala.||Enrolled at UTC in January|