Friday, Nov 24, 2017
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Depth, versatility help lift UT on offensive line

Seniors offensive tackles Elijah Nkansah and Brant Weiss have been constants on the University of Toledo offensive line the past few seasons.

This year they’ve anchored what has been a constantly changing offensive line. Season-ending injuries to guards Yazeed Atariwa and Chandler Cotterman led to increased playing time for players such as Sami Kassem, Brandon Heidecker, and Bryce Harris.

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Toledo’s Diontae Johnson gets past Ohio’s Jalen Fox to score a touchdown during the first half of Wednesday’s game at Peden Stadium in Athens. The Rockets lost, 38-10.

ATHENS MESSENGER/LOUISE FISH Enlarge

“It’s really nothing surprising,” Nkansah said. “During practice we switch things up all the time. Brant [Weiss] and Nate [Jeppesen] and I have been here and we all came in together.

“We’ve played on the same line with each other the past four or five years. Whatever curveball comes at us we are ready for, and we adapt and handle the adversity, and we just keep on playing.”

Jeppesen has missed time as well this season, with his center spot taken by Harris in his absence. Depth and versatility have been the trademark of Toledo’s offensive line, and that has definitely been tested with all the injuries.

Wednesday against Ohio, Jeppesen was in the starting lineup at center and Harris shifted to guard to replace Heidecker, who was injured against Northern Illinois.

“It’s tough not having the depth that we started out with,” Nkansah said. “But nobody on this O-line has any quit in them, and we all adapt and play whatever position we are asked to, and do whatever we can to be successful on the field.”

WOODSIDE A FINALIST: Toledo senior quarterback Logan Woodside has been named one of 10 national finalists for the NCAA Senior CLASS Award.

To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character, and competition.

Woodside graduated in the spring with a 3.42 GPA in marketing and is currently pursuing his master’s degree in recreation administration.

The CLASS award stands for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, and it encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.

The finalists were chosen by a committee from the list of 30 candidates announced in October. Nationwide fan voting begins immediately to help select the winner, and fans are encouraged to vote on the Senior CLASS Award website through Dec. 4. Fan votes will be combined with media and Division I head coaches’ votes to determine the winner.

The Senior CLASS Award winner will be announced during the football bowl season in early January.

ANDERSON INT: Freshman safety Tycen Anderson, a St. John’s Jesuit graduate, came up with his first career interception when he hauled in a pass near the sideline in the second quarter.

The play was not called an interception on the field, but it was after a review.

Contact Brian Buckey at: bbuckey@theblade.com419-724-6110, or on Twitter @BrianBuckey.

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