Purdue Football 2020: Position Previews – Offensive Line

Offensive Line

This season may very well be the deepest and most talented offensive line room Purdue has had since Jeff Brohm arrived.  With the arrival of new offensive analyst Neil Calloway, the offensive line is looking to make a massive jump from a liability in 2019 to a group that can be counted on consistently in 2020.  While it maybe unclear who exactly the starting five linemen will be October 24th, there are about 9-10 guys that have shown that they can play Big Ten football.  The cream rises to the top and that will be the same case for this offensive line room in 2020.

Grant Hermanns – Starter

Fifth Year – 6’7” 305 lbs.

Hermanns practices drills during preseason fall camp in 2019. (Dave Kovich)

While we don’t know who the five starting offensive linemen will be in 2020, we certainly do know who one of the starters will be and that is Grant Hermanns at left tackle.  Hermanns is by and far the most experienced and oldest member of the offensive line room and he will certainly be leaned on as such.  Hermanns is all around a really good left tackle both in the pass and run games.  If you go back and watch the game winning reverse to David Bell against Nebraska, the seal block from Hermanns on the defensive linemen on the edge was absolutely perfection.  I will be curious to see who the elite pass rushers are in the Big Ten this year and will be eager to see how Hermanns is able to handle and negate them.  If Hermanns has a good year this season I think he has a shot to be drafted in 2020.

Will Bramel – Potential Starter

Sophomore – 6’6” 300 lbs

Will Bramel gets set before an 11 on 0 drill during fall practice in 2019. (Dave Kovich)

Will Bramel is one of those offensive linemen for Purdue that I think is “nearly there” in terms of going from an adequate linemen to a really good one.  Bramel took a majority of the snaps at right tackle in 2020 and for good reason.  I think Bramel did a very good job for a freshman in pass protection and alright in the run game last year but saw some room for improvement.  Specifically in the run game I would like to see Bramel get his pads lower, now this certainly isn’t an easy task, but something that I think would go a long way for the young tackle.  In pass protection I noticed a few times where he almost stopped moving his feet and got beat. If those two things improve for Bramel going into 2020, Purdue should have great production at both tackle spots.  Reports are that Bramel has missed some time in the fall camp which isn’t great but he should be ready to go for week one against Iowa.

Greg Long – Potential Starter

Junior – 6’4” 295 lbs

Greg Long is a grad transfer from UTEP that should have two years of eligibility left heading into 2020.  Long is very athletic for his size and despite not being your typical sized tackle he should be getting a shot at the right tackle spot in 2020.  Long has seen some playing time at his previous school, UTEP, but his career thus far has been marred by injuries.  By my estimation Long has played around 17 games in his career with about 12 starts.  Hopefully the Purdue athletic training staff has been able to identify any nagging issues and corrected them so he can be full tilt during the entire 2020 season.  Long, Bramel and our next linemen will be battling it out to start at right tackle throughout the season.

Eric Miller – Contributor

Sophomore – 6’7” 300 lbs.

Eric Miller is yet another linemen who has seen some action, including two starts against Maryland and Iowa and nine additional games of participation in 2019.  I think Miller has prototypical size but still really needs to work on his technique.  From the highlights I have been able to watch Miller has issues with keeping his feet moving and leaning that really need to be addressed.  The combination of those two are huge liabilities that a good defensive end can take advantage of.  I think if we are comparing last year’s tape Miller has further to go to catch up to Bramel in 2020, but it has been nearly 10 months since we lost saw Miller, a ton can change then.  

Cam Craig – Potential Starter

RS Freshman – 6’5” 305 lbs

Cam Craig appeared in just one game last year against Indiana and was able to retain a redshirt, something that I think will prove to be very valuable down the line in a few years.  In the game Craig showed off that he was a good run blocker and pretty solid in pass protection.  There were a couple of plays where he was able to come off a double team to pick up a blitze, while it wasn’t the best blitz pickups he was able to recognize it and get in front of the blitzer, a good sign for a freshman.  Overall, I really like the motor and effort Craig showed against Indiana last year.  If that transferred over to the weight room and practices in the off season Purdue very well may have their man for starting left guard.

Sam Garvin – Probable Starter

Junior – 6’3” 295 lbs

Sam Garvin watches as King Doerue muscles in for a touchdown against Maryland in 2019. (Dave Kovich)

Sam Garvin came to Purdue as a walk-on and a finance major, so he definitely has the mental acuity to play center for the Boilers and he got his chance last year in 2019.  Garvin backed up Victor Beach who is no longer on the team in 2020 because of some back issues that prevented him from playing, so Garvin was the next man up playing in nine games and starting the final six games of the season.  When you have to start a walk-on on the offensive line it can make many people uneasy and that was the case with Garvin initially, but the more and more he played the more and more reliable he became.  By the end of the season if you told me Garvin was a walk-on I wouldn’t have believed you.  Garvin’s smarts should go a long way since he plays center, which often is the play caller on the offensive line.  We aren’t sure if Garvin is still a walk-on or on scholarship this season but regardless of that status fans should be glad he is likely to be anchoring this offensive line.

Mark Stickford – Contributor

Junior – 6’5” 305 lbs

Mark Stickford is yet another linemen who has some significant playing experience returning in 2020.  Stickford appeared in ten games, eight of which were starts in 2019.  Overall I think Stickford has a solid season in 2019, I would consider both his run game and pass game blocking to be average and both can be worked on.  I think the thing that sticks out the most is aggressiveness.  You can almost tell when he is playing aggressive and when he is not, and as you might expect the aggressive demeanor is often much better, so we would like to see more of that in 2020.  One other thing that stuck out was the blitz pickups, they definitely happened but often times a bit late so if he can improve that reaction time coming off doubles I think it would go a long way in 2020.

Kyle Jornigan – Potential Contributor

RS Freshman – 6’4” 315 lbs

Kyle Jernigan is one of the few underclassmen being talked about as part of the offensive line rotation this year that hasn’t had any in game experience.  This may prove to be one of the issues that ultimately leads to minimal playing time this year for Jernigan, but you have to start somewhere.  Reports out of camp are that the staff really likes Jornigan’s size and strength and that he is one tough dude.  Jernigan is high on the list of linemen I would like to see this season, even if it is just to get a gauge of where he is at.  This will be one to watch and wouldn’t be surprised to see him in some goal line situations this year at the very least.

DJ Washington – Potential Contributor

Junior – 6’4” 315 lbs.

DJ Washington is one of the biggest interior linemen on Purdue’s squad and well over 300 lbs so he has that ready off the bus body Purdue hasn’t had in a long time.  The question with Washington is can he harness and utilize that body and is his technique up to par?  While Washington spent mostly time in a reserve role in 2019 that shows maybe he wasn’t back then but we are nearly 10 months removed from the last time we saw him perform and time is the best cure for technique issues.  If Washington has been able to work hard in the off season, it would not be surprising to see him get some minutes or even start in 2020.

Spencer Holstege – Potential Contributor

RS Freshman – 6’5” 305 lbs

Jack Plummer throws a strike to Brycen Hopkins in 2019 as the Purdue offensive line maintains a clean pocket. (Dave Kovich)

Spencer Holstege has been a name kicked around this year and even was last year when Beach was injured and Purdue was relying on walk-on Sam Garvin.  So Holstege has been in the conversation for getting playing time at center and that has also been the same case this year.  Reportedly, Garvin had some minor injury issues early in the fall training camp and Holstege got some reps at Center.  We expect Holstege to push for a starting spot at center over Garvin, but it is our opinion the center spot is Garvin’s to lose at this point.  Should there be any issues with Garvin, Holstege should be the guy waiting in the wings as the next man up.

Gus Hartwig – Contributor

Freshman – 6’5” 305 lbs.

Gus Hartwig is without a doubt the most talented, ready to play freshman Purdue has recruited on the offensive line in years and reports are that he is definitely the real deal.  The true freshman from Zionsville was an Army All-American and had some great combine time prior to the bowl game.  The importance of him performing well against the top defensive recruits in the country cannot be overstated.  More so than any other position, offensive line recruiting is a bit of a crap shoot so when Hartwig performed very well against the best of his age, Purdue must’ve been absolutely elated.  Hartwig was an early enrollee in the spring before the session was ultimately cut short after just 8 practices, but Hartwig has continued to impress the staff.  O According to interviews, Hartwig is mentally sharp and has the ability to play at any position on the offensive line, which is pretty incredible for a true freshman.  Hartwig has really good feet that he has said help him to overcome his lack of college level strength training.  Overall reports have been promising and Hartwig is someone I think the staff will work to rotate in some this season depending how the game situations unfold.

Depth: Jimmy McKenna, Dave Monnot, Ben Kuhns, Gus German (walk-on)

Redshirts: Nalin Fox, Jared Bycznski, Josh Kaltenberger

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