BOCA RATON – Like most offensive linemen across the country, Dillon DeBoer doesn’t garner much adjulation.
That may be about to change.
“Dillon DeBoer has proven to be something special,” Charlie Partridge said.
Last season, when FAU needed someone to play center, DeBoer made the move but admitted the position wasn’t his favorite.
Preference aside, DeBoer played well enough to earn inclusion on the list of 64 centers to watch for the this year’s Rimington Trophy, an award presented to the nation’s best center.
“I think it’s becoming his natural position – I really do,” Partridge said.
As comfortable as DeBoer has grown at center, his versatility could still be a factor for FAU. Should injuries strike the Owls’ front five – and doesn’t that always seem to happen – the next man up at any given position could well be DeBoer, who could slide either left or right along the line.
He enters fall camp as the Owls’ quickest offensive lineman, probably the one who uses the best technique, and possessing the mental fortitude that enables him to do what it takes to help FAU win.
“The ability of him to move [at center] allows you to do some things someone with less athletic ability could not – pulling, reaching guys in certain alignments, things like that,” Partridge said. “He’s such a leader through his work ethic. That matters in the center spot. There’s a lot of communication that comes with that.”
A redshirt senior, DeBoer anchors an experienced offensive line that lost only right guard Mike Marsaille to graduation from last year.
Junior Reggie Bain has been the starter at left tackle ever since he set foot on campus. After transferring from Central Florida in 2014, Kelly Parfitt is entering his second year as a starter at the other tackle spot. Antonyo Woods has been in and out of the starting lineup over the past two seasons and fellow walk-on Roman Fernandez would have been the Owls starting center last season had it not been for an injury suffered late in fall camp.
It was the absence of Fernandez that prompted DeBoer’s move to center. Fernandez returned in the spring and begins camp as the starter at left guard, where he’ll line up next to DeBoer.
FAUOwlAccess.com Projected Depth Chart
Reggie Bain (6-4, 295, Jr.)
Struggled early in the spring to keep up with the pace of new offensive coordinator Travis Trickett’s offense before returning to the form that made him a Preseason All-C-USA selection. Brings confidence, athleticism and now leadership to the offensive line. “We have a much better version of Reggie Bain because of those barriers that he had to go through,” Partridge said.
Bryan Beck (6-6. 290, R-Fr.)
With Byers Hickmon expected to miss the opening days of fall camp, Bryan Beck is likely to begin August on the two-deep. After redshirting last season, the state of Wisconsin product could be poised to climb the depth chart a bit quicker than expected.
Roman Fernandez (6-0, 305, R-Jr.)
Would have been in Owls starting center last fall but concussion-like symptoms forced him to miss the entire year. One of the strongest offensive linemen, Fernandez has full clearance for the fall.
Tarrick Thomas (6-4, 280, R-Fr.)
Extremely athletic interior lineman who shows good enthusiasm and effort on the field. The quicker he matures, the quicker Thomas could challenge for a starting spot. “We need Tarrick to grow up as fast as he can so that he can sustain focus and (learn the offense),” Partridge said.
Dillon DeBoer, (6-6, 295, R-Sr.)
Can play any position along the line. Partridge characterized DeBoer as a “relentless worker.” He leads by example, important since DeBoer was one of the first to embrace the challenge of getting into the kind of physical shape necessary to run Trickett’s offense.
Richard Williams (6-2, 290, R-Fr.)
Recruited and signed specifically to play center. Is progressing at the expected rate. Coaches would love the opportunity to get him some playing time during lopsided games this season, but if the season started today and the Owls suddenly needed a replacement for DeBoer, Fernandez would likely get the call.
Antonyo Woods (6-3, 295, R-Jr.)
The strongest man competition along the offensive line comes down to either Woods or fellow Loxahatchee-Seminole Ridge grad Fernandez. Personable and cheery off the field, can show a nasty streak on the field. Battle between him and Jakobi Smith for the starting right guard spot may run through fall camp.
Jakobi Smith (6-3, 300, R-Jr.)
Played in every game last season. Entered spring as a likely starter along the offensive line but struggled to keep up with the new offense. Has the talent to play at this level. Does he have the focus to do it consistently?
Kelly Parfitt (6-6, 313, R-Sr.)
Banged up much of last season but is said to be fully healthy heading into fall camp. An experienced and healthy Parfitt bodes well for FAU in the running and passing game.
Matt Weiner (6-4, 275, R-So.)
Walk-on saw significant time during the spring. Should Parfitt need to miss time, Owls would likely shift a player from another position along the line to start at right tackle. Still, Weiner is getting closer to a regular spot on the two-deep. “He will surprise you with things he can do.” Partridge said. “We value Matt Weiner and what he brings to us.”
OTHER POTENTIAL CONTRIBUTORS
Byers Hickmon (6-5, 290, R-So.)
Progressed nicely during the spring but suffered a physical setback that will cause him to miss the opening days of fall camp. If he returns quickly enough, Hickman should begin the season on the Owls’ two-deep.
Jack Breshears (6-5, 300, R-Fr.)
Will likely fit at guard for in the future. While he’s progressing at about the pace that would be expected, Breshears may still be another year away from contributing.
Siffo Pierre (6-4, 310, R-So.)
Big body is better suited to guard but could play right tackle in a pinch. Still acclimating to the new offense.