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Defensive Line Preview

August 20, 2009

“We’re better right now, a week before our opening game, than we were at any point during the 2008 season along the defensive line,” says West Liberty defensive line coach Brad Forshey. “I’m very happy with our group.

      “They have really bought into the blue-collar philosophy we’re preaching to them and have shown a great work ethic. We work these guys really hard in practice but they are so determined to improve that I’ve seen them stay after practice to work on their own. We are going to be better.”generic_line

      Here’s a look at how the position battles are shaping up along the defensive front heading into the final 10 days of pre-season work:

      Defensive End: Returning starter Ryan Mirich (6-4, 250, jr.) is having the best camp of his career. After battling through injuries for much of the 2008 season, Mirich spent most of the off-season in the weight room. He added 25 pounds without sacrificing any speed or quickness and can now play any position along the front. His backup is Derrick Rovira (6-1, 235, fr.), a true freshman who has impressed the staff with his speed and pass-rushing skills. Wilson Woicehovich (6-1, 230, so.) has made great strides since his freshman season and could also contribute.

      Defensive End: Isaac Omaits (6-3, 250, so.) made his presence felt a year ago when he started several games at defensive tackle as a true freshman. Moving back to his natural position, he also added some quality weight during the off-season and is regarded by Forshey as one of the team’s smartest linemen. He’s backed up by Josh Beadnell (6-0, 225, so.), a converted linebacker who brings great speed off the edge and has shown a knack for using technique and leverage to overcome his lack of bulk at the point of attack. Also vying for time here is Dante D’Antonio (6-0, 225, sr.), who started a couple of games last year before being injured, and Nathan Parry (6-3, 215, fr.), a hard-working freshman with a good motor. True freshmen Sean Lake (6-5, 220, fr.) and Steve Woodford (6-2, 230, fr.) have missed most of the pre-season due to injury.

      Defensive Tackle: Forshey said returning starter Joey McGee (6-4, 255, sr.) developed into a team leader during the month of August. A hard-nosed grinder who plays with great desire, McGee has made great strides with his technique in camp and could be in line for a big year. Leonidas Redding (6-2, 270, so.) is McGee’s primary backup and may be one of the most improved players on the team. Redding stayed on campus over the summer to work on his strength and conditioning and has shown marked improvement in both areas. Keep an eye out for Nick Ringwalt (6-4, 305, fr.). He had to redshirt last season with a knee injury but is regarded as perhaps the most physical defensive lineman and could be an impact player if healthy.

      Nose Tackle: Matt Betz (6-1, 255, so.) started several games as a freshman last fall but has elevated his game during the pre-season. “The light bulb’s really come on for Matt,” Forshey said. “He understands everything we’re trying to do now and has just had a great camp.” Zach Turley (6-0, 275, fr.), a true freshman from western Pennsylvania has caught on quickly to the college game and is expected to see immediate playing time. Tony Montgomery (5-11, 290, fr.), another promising true freshman, could help against the run game.

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