BOCA RATON – Reggie Bain came back to football in the spring. In a couple weeks FAU will learn whether Bain can return to being the same caliber player he was at this time last year.
A preseason All-Conference USA selection at tackle prior to last season, Bain missed the year after breaking his hip in a motor scooter accident.
Bain was back on the field in the spring, reclaiming his left tackle spot – at least for the moment.
“I’m hoping for a huge jump by the time we come back in fall because now he can really work out all the time and do all the different lifts with (strength coach Wilson) Love to strengthen him and get him back to full strength,” FAU coach Lane Kiffin said.
During the spring Bain wasn’t a lock to remain at left tackle. FAU signed Joey Palmer from Butler CC with the intention of starting him immediately. Kiffin even intimated that he might move Bain to the right side to make room for Palmer in the starting line-up.
That is no longer a possibility.
Palmer failed to qualify academically and told OwlAccess.com that he will attend Division II Angelo St. in Texas.
“I’m not coming,” Palmer said. “It’s my own fault.”
The loss of Palmer is potentially a huge blow to an offensive line that was already a bundle of uncertainty.
The injuries that crippled FAU last season carried over into the spring, with three of the four experienced linemen who missed all of spring having made at least one start last season.
All players are expected back for the start of camp, which should make for plenty of mixing and matching throughout August.
“I think we’ve got a really good feel for the skill guys because of their health in the spring,” Kiffin said. “The fall will be huge to figure the line out.”
OWLACCESS.COM PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
Reggie Bain, 6-4, 285, R-Jr. Bain actually tried his hand at center during the spring but, barring a setback, he’ll be starting at tackle this fall.
Matt Murphy, 6-7, 310, R-Jr. The transfer from Buffalo had opportunities to impress during the spring but didn’t deliver. Has the size to play tackle. Did the summer workouts help?
Brandon Walton, 6-5, 300, So. Walton played as a true freshman last season but wore down late. Has the size and strength to own this position for a long time.
Tarrick Thomas, 6-4, 285, R-So. Early injuries allowed Thomas to jump into the starting line-up, but a knee injury of his own ended his season early. If Thomas is fully recovered he will likely be a starter, supplanting Walton here or moving to right guard.
Antonyo Woods, 6-3, 295, R-Sr. Named to the watch list for the Rimington Trophy, presented to the best center in the nation, the versatile Woods can play any position along the line. He moved to center in the spring and appears to have locked down the starting spot.
Richard Williams, 6-2, 290, R-So. Brought to FAU specifically to play center, Williams missed the spring with a knee injury. If Williams isn’t fully recovered look for walk-on Jake Jones to work with the second team or the Owls could slide Roman Fernandez over a spot.
Roman Fernandez, 6-0, 305, R-Sr. One of the strongest players on the team, Fernandez started at both guard and center last season. Teammates going back to their days at Loxahatchee-Seminole Ridge High School, Fernandez and Woods work together like a machine.
Jakobi Smith, 6-3, 300, R-Sr. A better game day player than practice performer, Smith started several games at guard last season.
Bryan Beck, 6-6, 290, R-So. Beck started games at both tackle positions last season as a redshirt freshman. He underwent his second knee surgery in as many years during the offseason and missed the spring. How long it will take him to get back to full strength is uncertain.
Matt Weiner, 6-4, 280, R-Jr. Versatile offensive lineman, Weiner could fill in at either guard or tackle spot. Started multiple times for the depleted Owls last season.
Dillon DeBoer – Started every game last season, playing center and tackle, before signing a free agent contract with the Los Angeles Chargers.
Kelly Parfitt – Began the season in the starting line-up before injuries cut short his senior year.
Jack Breshears – Like nearly many of his brethren listed above, Breshears missed all of the spring. The rapidity with which Breshears can return to the form that allowed him to start games last season will determine how quickly he climbs the depth chart. If healthy, it could happen rapidly.
B.J. Etienne – The St. Thomas Aquinas product profiles as an interior lineman. FAU has some experience in those spots, but many are returning from injuries. He’s already on campus and taking part in the FAU weight program, so that could give him an edge.
Robert Hawkins – At 6-6 and 335 pounds, Hawkins has the size to play tackle. Like Etienne, Hawkins may be able to get an early look because so many linemen are returning from injuries. Unlike Etienne, Hawkins isn’t expected to arrive on campus until the day before camp starts.
PREVIOUS POSITION PRIMERS
FAU FOOTBALL CAMP PREVIEW: Quarterbacks
FAU FOOTBALL CAMP PREVIEW: Offensive Line
FAU FOOTBALL CAMP PREVIEW: Running Backs
FAU FOOTBALL CAMP PREVIEW: Tight Ends
FAU FOOTBALL CAMP PREVIEW: Wide Receivers
FAU FOOTBALL CAMP PREVIEW: Defensive Line
FAU FOOTBALL CAMP PREVIEW: Linebackers
FAU FOOTBALL CAMP PREVIEW: Defensive Backs
FAU FOOTBALL CAMP PREVIEW: Special Teams