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2018 Villanova Football Preview: A look at the offensive line

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Led by a STATS FCS pre-season All-American, reinforced by tons of experienced veterans, the Villanova O-Line is in good hands.

NCAA Football: Villanova at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

They don’t get the glory of scoring touchdowns, but they’re one of the biggest reasons for causing them. The spotlight is on the unsung heroes and one of the important units for a football team: the offensive line.

To help count down to the start of the 2018 football season and the Sept. 1 showdown between Villanova and Temple, we will highlight and breakdown each position on the Wildcats’ football roster.

Other previews: Quarterbacks | Running backs | Wide Receivers


Returnees

#77 Brandon Hitner (6-6, 300), RS Sr.
#73 Ethan Greenidge (6-4, 345), Sr.
#70 Louie Csaszar (6-3, 300), Sr.
#72 Keegan Sheedy (6-4, 255), RS Jr.
#65 Paul Grattan (6-3, 300), RS So.
#67 M.J. Dumas (6-2, 315), RS So.
#71 Kofi Appiah (6-6, 290), RS So.
#57 Paul Meduri (6-0, 315), So.
#62 Colin Gamroth (6-2, 265), So.
#74 Patrick Lawler (6-6, 300), So.
#75 Patrick La Rossa (6-3, 265), So.

Departures

Matt Donoghue (6-4, 275)
Alex Coren (6-1, 280)
Chris King (6-3, 290)

Newcomers

#60 Michael Corbi (6-2, 310) -- Arnold, Md./Mount Saint Joseph
#66 James Petrovcik (6-3, 265) -- Westfield, N.J./Seton Hall Prep
#68 P.J. Szymanski (6-4, 285) -- Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks East
#76 Matthew Mazza (6-5, 270) -- Manalapan, N.J./Manalapan
#79 Nick Torres (6-5, 310) -- Whitestone, N.Y./Salisbury School


There’s a lot to be excited for with this year’s offensive line. The Wildcats return four starters--Ethan Greenidge, Louie Csaszar, Paul Grattan, and Brandon Hitner.

As for the fifth starting spot, it appears that M.J. Dumas is slated to start at right guard. The redshirt sophomore has enjoyed a great offseason and his coaches have raved and taken notice of his performance. Beyond these five starters, head coach Mark Ferrante is excited for the line as a whole and the depth that’s present.

“They look really good, they’re more cohesive,” Ferrante said “[Offensive line coach] Sean Devine did a great job with them. Not only last fall, but in the spring. Whenever you have an offensive line, and you are returning pretty much all five, that is a good thing. We got a lot of guys with a lot of a playing experience up front now.”

Leading the pack is Greenidge, who has been starting since his freshman year. He protects Zach Bednarczyk’s blind side. Greenidge has added 10 more pounds to his frame from last season and while he might have imposing size, he also has great footwork. He’s quick on his feet and is a solid run-blocker, as well as a pass protector. He’ll be one of the players to watch this season, as a STATS FCS pre-season All-American and an all-conference type player.

At the other tackle position is Hitner, a fifth-year senior who has taken big leaps in improving as a player with each passing season. Since being redshirted upon arrival, Hitner gradually started seeing more and more playing time, until becoming the full-time starter last year.

Offensive guard Csaszar also comes in with loads of playing experience. He’s gotten a taste of action since his freshman season and has started since his sophomore year. He has great lineman instincts when it comes to picking up assignments on the fly and blitzes on passing plays. However, he’s really impressive when it comes to run-blocking on interior plays. He has a high motor and explodes out of his stance, helping the creation of a lane for running backs to go through.

As for the man in the middle, Grattan, he’s shifting over from guard to center this season. He’ll be taking over the spot left behind from Matt Donoghue’s graduation.

“He’s good, he loves it,” Ferrante said of Grattan’s positional switch. “He has done a good job out there. You know he’s the one making the calls, and he has a good demeanor for it. He gets everyone going in the right direction and he enjoys being in that position I think.”

Grattan is part of a redshirt sophomore group that has shown tremendous potential since coming to Villanova—a batch that also includes Dumas and Kofi Appiah. Grattan got his opportunity to start last season and thrived as a guard, and the coaching staff is expecting the same for him as a center this year. Dumas is getting his chance this year, and Appiah has shown promise as well and while he might have to wait until next season for his time to start—expect him to get a steady dosage of playing time in the rotation.

The offensive line welcomes five newcomers to the offensive line—Michael Corbi, James Petrovcik, P.J. Szymanski, Matthew Mazza, and Nick Torres.

Heading into this season, experience and depth are two things this unit is well abundant in.