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Staff file photo by C.B. Schmelter / Cole Strange, left, should lead the way for a UTC offensive line that brings back starters at four of five spots entering the 2020 season.

With preseason football practice starting soon for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, the Times Free Press is taking a daily positional look at the Mocs, with today's preview on the offensive line:

 

Who's back

The Mocs return most of last season's unit that, despite numerous season-ending injuries, was one of the best in the Southern Conference. The lone loss from the starting five was four-year starter Malcolm White, which hurts the group, but the seven other UTC offensive linemen who logged starts in 2019 are back. The leader is 6-foot-5, 290-pound senior Cole Strange, who recently appeared in Phil Steele's preseason Football Championship Subdivision All-America lineup as a fourth-team selection and is one of two offensive linemen to start all 12 games for UTC last season. The other was junior McClendon Curtis (6-8, 325), the former Central High School standout who started at the other guard slot. Former Signal Mountain standout Harrison Moon (6-5, 290) is back for a sixth season after a knee injury took away his final eight games last year, while sophomore Colin Truett (6-3, 275) started the final eight in his place. Kyle Miskelley (6-1, 300) and Noah Ramsey (6-3, 295), a Southeast Whitfield graduate, both logged starts at center.

 

Who's new

Ja'Ny Alston was rated a three-star prospect coming out of Jireh Preparatory Academy — the same school that produced incoming quarterback Ty Gossett — as both an offensive lineman and defensive end. He'll begin his time with the Mocs on offense, where he'll be considered a player who can help down the road. The same could be said for incoming freshmen Jeremiah Katt, Haze Solomon and Reid Williams, a former Ringgold standout.

 

Strengths

Depth, cohesion and offensive line coach Chris Malone. The three combined will make the Mocs one of the best units in the SoCon once again. The injuries last season hurt, but even with that the team averaged twice as many rushing yards per game in 2019 as it did a year prior. Having a balanced offense is an endeavor led by the line, and the Mocs are equipped to make that happen.

 

Weaknesses

How quickly will the unit, despite limited alteration from last season, be able to jell? The abbreviated training time ahead of the Mocs' scheduled Sept. 3 season opener at Western Kentucky will cost the line precious days to develop some much-needed on-field chemistry, regardless of how Malone chooses to replace White.

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @genehenley3.

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