NASHVILLE --- The Tennessee State offensive line returns four starters from a season ago and expect to regain their form from 2016 where they were the anchor to the top scoring team in the Ohio Valley Conference. Ty Allen is the lone departing starter from a season ago. Allen started the first four games of the season at center in place of an injured Thomas Burton. Once the Tigers original center returned, Allen returned to his home at right guard.
Burton, Jamahl Jelks, Chidi Okeke and Justin Brooks all return as starters. Burton will anchor the trenches at center for the fourth year and will be flanked by Lachavious Simmons at left guard. Simmons played in all 11 games, starting six at various spots, a year ago. Okeke will spend hiss econd season at right tackle after transfering from LSU.
The right side of the line will have competition as transfer Raekwon Allen will battle Jelks and Brooks for time. Newcomers Jamahl Covington, Raymond Horton and Marlon Black, Jr. will provide depth. Redshirt freshman Anthony Geter impressed during his first year with the Tigers and will push Burton for time at center.
TSU spent the offseason building a deep unit in the trenches. The Tigers entered camp with 18 linemen and look to put themselves in a position to reload for years to come. Demetrius Cooley, Noah Shattuck, Herman Joseph, Myles Sails, Cedrick Banks, Anthony Williams, Tyrese Thornton and Keith Thomas bring the ability to solidify the line for the near future.
|LINEMEN||HT||WT||YR||TRANSFER||Gms Played||Gms Started|
|Dametrius Cooley||6-2||288||Jr.||Eastern Arizona CC||--||--|
|Raekwon Allen||6-3||330||So.||Georgia Military College||--||--|
|Jamahl Covington||6-2||295||So.||Georgia Military College||--||--|
|Marlon Black, Jr.||6-6||295||Fr.||--||--|
Junior Offensive Lineman Jamahl Jelks
- On the Offensive Unit
“We are coming together. It is way better than last year. Everybody is really getting along and coming together. The chemistry is great and we love practicing. We are getting after it and we are ready to get back after it again this year.”
- On Depth
“We have a lot of depth. The key to keeping us together is that we are all like brothers. All of us came from similar backgrounds, so it is real easy to stay together. We are all working for the same goal, we la just want to win. We are out here just working hard.”
Sophomore Transfer Raekwon Allen
- On Transition to Tennessee State Football
“Coming in from a junior college, I need to get the plays down and learn a new system. But the key is to bond with these guys and communicate to put the pieces together.”
- On the Veterans Help with the Transition
“They help me with my footwork and the little things as well. We come out early and work every day. They just continue to help me, even when I have questions late at night.”
Redshirt Freshman Anthony Geter
- On Having an Opportunity after Redshirt Season
“I’m just trying to be a leader. I’m coming in knowing my plays and helping my younger teammates, teaching them new things, staying active and being vocal.”
- On his Role
“I see myself in the middle. Last year, I was the only offensive lineman they brought in and I learned a lot from the veterans. Now I have to carry it on and teach it to the younger guys.”
- On the Success of the Line through the Beginning of Camp
“Coach E (Ehrenfeld) is just trying to instill a different mindset. We are going to smack somebody in the mouth every time we come off the ball. It is a grind. There is a passion to the offensive line. You have to want to come out here every day and block a person.”