2012 Louisville Football Outlook: Offensive Line

Senior center Mario Benavides is the anchor of this group, as he enters his fourth year as a starter. Benavides missed spring practice after having off-season surgery, but will be ready to go by the start of fall camp. He has missed just four games in his career and is one of the toughest players on the team. Redshirt freshman Mike Romano is the heir-apparent at this position and is coming off a strong spring.

Sophomore Jake Smith remains at right guard after a solid season in 2012. Smith started all 13 games and became the first U of L player to garner FWAA freshman All-America accolades last year. Smith is a ferocious competitor and will only continue to get better. Redshirt freshmen Chase Petersen and Josh Stearns will battle for the back-up role.

The left guard position was locked down last season by another promising freshman in John Miller. The 6-foot-2, 313-pounder started 10 games last season and will be an anchor at that position for the next three years. Miller is extremely talented and was one of a handful of true freshmen to start on the offensive line across the country.

Junior Kamran Joyer is a hard-nosed performer who has battled injuries the last couple of seasons. He started a game last season before an injury ended the rest of his season. If he can stay healthy, Joyer can be a valuable performer at left guard. At left tackle, Alex Kupper is one of the most versatile players along the line. He has started games at both center and tackle throughout his career, but has settled in at tackle. Kupper started all 13 games a year ago and has made tremendous strides after coming to Louisville as a walk-on. Sophomore Chris Acosta has worked hard to improve and will add depth at that position.

Red shirt freshman Aaron Epps was moved back to offensive tackle after working at tight end in the spring. He has added strength and size and will fight for playing time this fall. Sophomore Jamon Brown was moved from defensive tackle to the offensive line earlier in the season last year. He started the North Carolina game after a week of practice, and since then the coaching staff is in love with Brown’s potential at this position.

Brown will be penciled in at left tackle, and with his athletic ability and the way he moves, he will be tough to replace. Red shirt freshman Ryan Mack has tremendous size and ability and will compete for playing time with Brown. The duo gives the Cardinals a ton of size and athletic ability at one of the key offensive line positions.

Position outlook courtesy of 2012 Louisville Football Media Guide

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