RICHMOND, Ky. – For an offense to be productive, or even prolific, it all starts up front. Luckily the Eastern Kentucky University football team features experience along its offensive line in 2016.
Of Eastern’s six returning offensive starters, three are linemen. A fourth made four starts a year ago.
The trio of Justin Adekoya (10 starts), Chance Edwards (nine starts) and Z Stephenson (seven starts) are the returning starters. Ryan Garretson started four times in 2015.
While several starters return on the offensive line, they will be coached this season by a newcomer to EKU, Terry Heffernan. Coach Heff spent the last three seasons with the Detroit Lions in the NFL, including two seasons as assistant offensive line coach. He also has made coaching stops at Michigan and Louisville.
Adekoya is a 6-foot-5, 294-pound redshirt senior from Ringgold, Georgia. He earned preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference honors in July. Last season Adekoya was a regular starter along an offensive line that helped EKU rank 30th in the nation with an average of 256 passing yards per game and 34th in the country in sacks allowed. He was the starting left tackle when Bennie Coney became the first Colonel quarterback ever to throw for 400 yards in a game, finishing with 417 at Murray State.
Garretson (6-foot-5, 327), also a redshirt senior, started the final game of the season at left guard. Stephenson (6-foot-2, 290) was thrown into the fire as a true freshman in 2015. He took over as the starting center before Eastern’s near upset of Kentucky and went on to start seven times over the final eight games. Edwards (6-foot-5, 328), a redshirt junior, started eight times at right guard and once at right tackle last season. In his first two seasons, Edwards has played in all 24 games and has started 16 times.
Other returning offensive linemen include redshirt seniors Colton Scurry (6-foot-2, 260) and Landon Rasnick (6-foot-4, 280), and redshirt sophomores Cameron Kowalewski (6-foot-5, 272), Justin Myles (6-foot-3, 280) and Justin Rawlins (6-foot-2, 268).
Additional depth along the line comes in the form of four true freshmen: Nick Cavinee (6-foot-7, 260), Jackson Bardall (6-foot-3, 280), De’jour Simpson (6-foot-3, 320) and Nathan Murray (6-foot-7, 325).
The Colonels will be back on the field Saturday at 11:20 a.m. for practice No. 3. All practices are scheduled to be held at Roy Kidd Stadium and are open to the public.
EKU is ranked No. 25 in the nation in a preseason poll by Athlon Sports and was picked to place second in the Ohio Valley Conference this season by the coaches and the media.
The Colonels begin the 2016 season on Sept. 3 at Purdue. Eastern’s first home game is slated for Thursday, Sept. 8. For ticket information, contact the EKU Athletics Ticket Office at 859-622-2122.
Preseason Camp Schedule
(Note: dates and times are subject to change)
August 6 Saturday 11:20 a.m.
August 7 Sunday 7:30 p.m.
August 8 Monday No Practice
August 9 Tuesday 6 p.m.
August 10 Wednesday 6 p.m.
August 11 Thursday 7:30 p.m.
August 12 Friday No Practice
August 13 Saturday 10 a.m.
August 14 Sunday 1 p.m.
August 15 Monday 11:20 a.m.
August 16 Tuesday 11:20 a.m.
August 17 Wednesday 5:30 p.m.
August 18 Thursday No Practice
August 19 Friday 10 a.m.
August 20 Saturday 10 a.m.
August 21 Sunday 1 p.m.