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Published: Wednesday, 4/13/2011

UT SPRING GAME

Mancz looks to start at guard for Toledo

BY ZACH SILKA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

It didn't take being selected second in the University of Toledo football team's annual spring draft for Greg Mancz to know he's making tremendous strides in his development as an offensive lineman.

In fact, Mancz wasn't even aware that he had been drafted that high until coach Tim Beckman told him after Tuesday's practice.

The redshirt freshman has caught the eye of the coaching staff and his teammates over the last four weeks of spring practices with his maturity, poise and high level of play.

"It's been a lot of fun," Mancz said. "I'm sort of sad that spring [workouts are] almost over."

Every year on the Monday before the spring game since Beckman has been the head coach at UT, the Rockets' seniors have convened to divide all the players, coaches and staff members onto Blue and Gold squads.

As no surprise to anyone, junior All-American returner Eric Page was taken first in this year's draft, followed by Mancz and junior defensive end T.J. Fatinikun.

Page declined to comment on being the No. 1 pick after practice Tuesday in order to seek treatment for an injury. Page later tweeted that he suffered a thigh contusion.

"It's a lot of fun," Beckman said of the spring draft. "The kids enjoy it. They see who's respected. Eric was the first taken, and then Greg Mancz was the next one taken, which shows the type of spring Greg Mancz has had."

A native of Cincinnati, Mancz first became familiar with football in northwest Ohio when he and his Anderson High School teammates faced Southview in the 2008 Division II state championship game. Mancz was a junior right tackle that year for Anderson, which fell 29-25 to the Cougars after winning a state title in 2007.

Mancz later moved to left tackle for his senior year and now is working primarily at right guard for the Rockets, who have a vacancy there with the graduation of three-year starter Nate Cole.

"I want to secure a starting spot, there's no doubt in my mind," Mancz said. "I want to be the best I can be and help out the team however I can, and get on the field a little bit too."

Mancz used his redshirt year in 2010 and winter conditioning to add 20 pounds to his 6-foot-5 frame. He now checks in at a sturdy 295 pounds.

"He's done a great job. He's not playing like a freshman," Beckman said of Mancz. "I think he'll have a great shot at being one of the starters at guard [in the fall]."

In addition to the emergence of Mancz, the Rockets have been able to cultivate some much-needed depth on the offensive line over the last year.

Mancz's three roommates for next semester -- redshirt freshmen Josh Hendershot, Robert Lisowski, and Jeff Myers -- were also considered prized signings from last year's recruiting class and should all be in the mix for playing time next season and in years to come.

"We're all really close," Mancz said. "We go out to eat and hang out a lot."

The foursome, along with junior A.J. Lindeman, has helped compensate for the graduation of Cole and center Kevin Kowalski and the loss of right tackle John Morookian for the spring with a shoulder injury.

"We have a lot more depth on the offensive line than we've had here in a long time," Beckman said. "[Offensive line] coach [Matt] Campbell has done a great job of recruiting some players who can play."

Contact Zach Silka at: zsilka@theblade.com or 419-724-6084.



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