Purdue Football 2021: Position Previews – Offensive Line

In 2020 Jeff Brohm brought in analyst Neil Calloway to help further develop the offensive line and it definitely helped.  While Purdue reduced the number of rushing attempts per game from 2019 to 2020 they were able to increase their average yards per attempt from 2.9 to 3.4, bringing Purdue from last in the conference up two spots to twelve.  Brohm has in turn pushed things even harder and raised Calloway to an on-field coaching role, as TE coach Ryan Wallace has transitioned to an analyst role.  Another improvement of equal level would put the Boilermakers back to levels they were at for rushing in Brohm’s first and second year.  2020 was the year that Purdue started to build depth but Mark Stickford, Will Bramel, and Kyle Jornigan are no longer on the roster, reportedly due to injuries.  Between the three of them they had 19 starts, but weren’t heavily relied on in 2020, but depth has taken a hit this off season.  

Greg Long – Starter

Last year, Purdue brought in Greg Long as a grad transfer from UTEP and started all 6 games at right tackle for Boilers bringing his total number of career starts to 18.  During his career at UTEP, Long was marred by multiple injuries, but was able to deliver all season long in 2020 and will get a shot to move over to LT to replace Grant Hermanns, who is currently working to make the New York Jets roster.  

Gus Hartwig – Starter

Gus Hartwig came in as the most talented, ready to play freshman in recent years and boy did the freshman deliver.  Hartwig appeared in all six games and started the final three games of the season.  The true sophomore has great feet, which allowed him to overcome some of his strength deficiencies as a freshman, but with a full year under his belt he should be able to be even more effective.  Hartwig will command the interior of the line from the center position this year and will look to become a leader of the line.

Tyler Witt – Starter

Jeff Brohm and Co once again dipped their feet into the transfer portal to find an experienced offensive linemen and found their man back at their old stomping grounds with Western Kentucky’s Tyler Witt.  Witt was actually recruited to Western Kentucky by Brohm back in 2015, where he had a fantastic career making 43 starts over 5 seasons. Witt will be a stalwart on the offensive line and is slated to play right guard in 2021. 

Eric Miller – Starter

Eric Miller has appeared in 17 games over two seasons thus far, including 2 starts in 2019.  Last season Miller split time at right tackle with Greg Long, with Long taking all of the stats, but the split of time was more even than the stats would suggest.  So there is some experience to work with but also a massive frame to boot at 6’7” 305 lbs.  With Long likely sliding over to LT, Miller will get the nod at RT for 2021.

Offensive Line opens a hole for Zander Horvath against Northwestern in 2020

Spencer Holstege – Starter

Going into 2020 Spencer Holstege was making a push to get some playing time at both guard and center and his number was called early in the season after Cam Craig was injured in the season opener against Iowa.  Holstege went on to start the remaining 5 games and proved to be a bit of a revelation as he graded to be Purdue’s best pass blocker according to PFF.  On the other hand Holstege graded out on the lower end of PFF’s run blocking, which will have hopefully improved with an additional year of lifting under his belt.  

Cam Craig – Contributor/Potential Starter

Cam Craig appeared in just one game in 2019 and got the nod as the starting left guard in 2020.  But as mentioned before, his season came to an end just as it was beginning after suffering an injury early in the opener against Iowa.  Cam Craig will have a shot to earn a starting role since he earned that in 2020, but after a great season by SPencer Holstege and the addition of Tyler Witt from the transfer portal, I think it will be likely he won’t be and will serve in a back up capacity for the interior line and potentially slide over to tackle should one of the tackles be injured.

Sam Garvin – Contributor

Heading into 2020, Sam Garvin became the starting center after Viktor Beech medically retired due to injuries and the walk-on delivered and was solid in all six games. Garvin will be in a similar position for Cam Craig in that he has experience but the interior offensive line is as stacked as it has been since 2017.  Garvin will likely serve as back up Center in 2021.

Dave Monnot, Nalin Fox, Jared Bycznski and Josh Kaltenberger will serve as reserve on the offensive line and will likely not factor in unless there are multiple injuries to the seven linemen mentioned above.

Depth: Ben Kuhns, Gus German (walk-on)

Redshirts: Marcus Mbow, Mahamane Moussa, Jaelin Alstott-VanDeVanter, Zach Richards, Aaron Roberts (walk-on)

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