UVA’s unsung heroes on O-Line receiving recognition

Published: Aug. 22, 2021 at 6:00 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The offensive line is expected to be a key contributor for the Virginia football team this season.

The Cavaliers return six players with starting experience, and they’ve combined to start more than 120-games.

But as senior left tackle Ryan Nelson points out, even the best linemen, are still fairly anonymous.

“I mean let’s be real,” says Nelson, “you guys generally do not know who we are until you hear ‘Holding on so-and-so,’ and the whole stadium is like, ‘Oh, that guys is terrible.’”

The Cavaliers offensive line was one of the best in the nation last season.

They led the ACC in Pressure Rate Allowed, Yards Per Rush before Contact, and Percentage of Runs Stopped for a Loss or No Gain.

The boost in profile has been beneficial with the new Name, Image, and Likeness legislation.

Ryan Nelson has signed a deal with a clothing company based in his hometown of Los Angeles, but he says there are some limitations for the big guys regarding NIL.

“You’re not going to see an offensive lineman sign like (Oklahoma Quarterback) Spencer Rattler’s deal with Raising Canes, because they know they’d go bankrupt for that,” says Nelson. “I’d be there every day. You see guys getting some kind of attention. It’s kinda cool to see dudes who have worked their entire life actually getting anything.”

The line will be getting more responsibility this year.

Head coach Bronco Mendenhall says, “The offensive front will take on more, as we become more creative, more innovative, but also, when we have to be traditional, can be.”

“I’m going to do my job, and not worry about what someone else thinks,” adds Nelson. “If you want to throw praise at us, or do that, we’ll accept it, but put it to the side and keep going. It’s kind of the way we’re expected to do things here.”

Virginia is scheduled to kickoff the season at home against William & Mary on September 4th.

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