‘The Union’ goes back to work

By on September 2, 2015

When an offensive line loses three starters who combined for more than 120 career starts to the NFL, there are naturally positions to be filled.

Head coach Bobby Petrino and offensive line coach Chris Klenakis tinkered and toyed with all five spots throughout spring ball and fall camp, but only one thing is for certain, the unit is ready to go to work.

Klenakis gave the collective unit the moniker ‘the Union’ for their gritty, hardnosed approach.

“Union means solidarity, we are together, we are one, we are blue collar,” Klenakis said. “We are blue collar guys, we stick together, they don’t know us, but without our effort the company doesn’t run.”

The leader of ‘the Union’ is fifth year senior Aaron Epps. The 6-foot-7 left tackle started six games last season and was voted a team captain in early August.

“He is a hard worker and he is a student of the game. He really takes things personal and he wants things done right” Klenakis said. “He wants the unit to do good and he takes a lot of pride in the unit, the union as we call ourselves. He takes a lot of pride in the union and he does a good job bringing the younger guys along.”

While Epps seemed to lock down the starting left tackle spot early on, the other four positions on the line have been up for grabs.

“Those first five will be pretty exciting to watch because everyone is competing right now. Everybody is competing,” Epps said. “We’re all in this together; we’re all in this as one. We know that in the game if anything comes up we all have each other’s back.”

With Epps entrenched on the left flank, players have rotated positions throughout fall camp to try and find the most effective spot.

“We have to challenge them every day in practice to not be in a hurry,” Petrino said. “It’s a daily process, we have a great offensive line coach in Coach Klenakis, it is not new to him, he is going to build young guys and get them ready to play. I am excited, I like our ability, I like our new guys as far as our size and athleticism, their competitiveness, but we have some work ahead of us.”

Pedro Sibiea, a redshirt junior that played in just two games last season will more than likely start at the center position.

Two true freshmen, Geron Christian and Kenny Thomas could start the season opener against Auburn.

“I like all of our freshman, they are big and they are athletic and they have a lot of energy. They can bend well and run so I am excited about all of our freshman,” Klenakis said.

Christian, the brother of former Cardinal tight end Gerald Christian is slated opposite of Epps at the right tackle spot.

Inside of him, the 6-foot-6 Thomas would play a guard spot.

Khalil Hunter, a 6-foot-4 junior college transfer from Eastern Arizona could start at the other guard position.

Throughout fall camp, 12 players rotated work at the five different spots along the offensive line, so Petrino and Klenakis are still looking for the right combination.

Despite still trying to lock down spots along the line, Klenakis knows what he wants from each and every member of ‘the Union.’

“Play hard with great effort and great technique. When you can turn on the game film and see great effort and great technique, players anticipating things before they happen that is a pretty good deal,” Klenakis said.

About Sam Draut

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *