Left tackle is a franchise position on the football field. Tasked with protecting the blind side of most team’s prized possession, its quarterback, the the left tackle is the offensive line’s most scrutinized player. In addition to being a designated pass protector, the left tackle must also be proficient in all other offensive line tasks such as run and zone blocking, scraping, and occasionally pulling.
We discussed responsibility differences of the left and right tackle in a prior Glossary post. In this piece we’ll take a look at a prototypical NFL left tackle, overview preferred and coveted traits on the recruiting trail, and overview Kentucky’s trio of blind side protectors.
Preferred and Coveted LT Traits on the Recruiting Trail
-Quick feet with mental capability to understand leverage and physical competence to enforce positioning.
-High Football IQ. That term is loosely used, but in this case it pertains to basic understanding of pass routes and comprehending the quarterback and offensive coordinator’s intent.
-Long arms to counter outside or edge speed rush.
-Height, 6’5 or taller is the norm. Weight varies, 290 seems to be the low-end bench mark.
-Upper and lower body strength to sustain the bull rush.
-Confidence. Left tackles are frequently left on an island to combat the opponent’s top pass rusher who is in many cases the best athlete on the field.
-Competitive natured. The good ones compete out of necessity. The great ones love to compete regardless of activity. Most effective left tackles were multiple sport and position athletes in high school. Basketball is the optimal additional activity along with wrestling and track & field.
Prototypical NFL Left Tackle:
Joe Thomas, Cleveland Browns
NFL Combine results: 4.92-40 yard dash, 28 repetitions of 225 on the bench press.
High School: Offensive tackle, defensive end, tight end, fullback, punter, and kicker at Brookfield Central HS where he was named as a Prep All American. Thomas also set school records for the shotput and discuss and earned four letters in track and field.
Now let’s take a look at Kentucky’s left tackles:
Senior Cole Mosier: 6’6, 335-pounds
High School: Multi-year starter on Walton Verona’s offensive and defensive line. He twice lettered on the basketball team as well as track & field plus tennis.
As a Wildcat: Reliable, Mosier has played in 33 career games with 12 starts at both left and right tackle and guard.
Picture of a US Air Force A-10 Warthog
Cole Mosier is the A-10 Warthog of the Kentucky offensive line. The A-10 is a versatile, long-serving combat aircraft that was due to be replaced by sleeker flying machines on several occasions. It’s loud, packs a serious punch, doesn’t fly supersonic, and still relies on maps for navigation. In other words, it’s not flashy but remains reliable, powerful, durable and has proven its worth for many decades. When called upon, the Warthog always responds accordingly.
Mosier is a utility player turned left tackle. He’s been asked to play every position along the line-of-scrimmage except for center and has performed those duties at a high level. His strengths are, well his strength, powerful punch, and a nasty demeanor that perfectly mesh with Eddie Gran’s in-your-face offensive philosophy. With physical traits are perfectly fitted for a right tackle; Mosier productively transitioned to the left side.
An incredible story of perseverance and player development, this former walk-on has the opportunity to find his way into an NFL training camp next spring.
Sophomore Landon Young: 6’7, 310-pounds
High school: Young, a Lexington Lafayette grad, was a six-year letter winner in wrestling and four-year letter winner in track and field in the shot and discus. Won the 2016 KHSAA state wrestling title, finished his senior year with a 19-0 record on the mat. Ranked as the state’s top wrestler at 285 after finishing fourth in the state as a junior. Three-time Class 3-A track and field champion in the discus. Won the 2015 state shot up title and finished second in 2016. A 5-star prospect on the football field, he was named to various All American teams and played in the US Army All American Bowl.
As a Wildcat: Played in 13 games; started 3 as a true freshman. Named to Athlon’s All SEC Freshman Team.
With an unlimited ceiling and team-first attitude, Landon Young will occupy the LT position for the Wildcats for the next 2-3 years. Having Cole Mosier as a mentor and rotational partner at the same position has only boosted the rising sophomore’s development.
True Freshman Naasir Watkins: 6’6, 305-pounds
High school: A former tight end, Watkins checks all the blocks that John Schlarman pursued while identifying his future left tackle. Long arms, 6’6 and growing, and was a pass catcher prior to a permanent move to tackle suitably fits the bill. The Kentucky coaching staff is extremely excited about Watkins’ prospective. He will be a noteworthy case study of prospect identification and player development.
What does all this mean?
College football teams are constructed with all types of players with various backgrounds, physical traits, and stories. Mosier, Young, and Watkins are a perfect example of positional diversity. Mosier was a 0-star walk-on turned starter from northern Kentucky. Young was a 5-star All American that stayed home and has lived up to that billing by earning Freshman All SEC honors in his rookie season. Watkins is a 3-star former TE from the Washington DC area that is still growing into his body. Three personalities, one position, same goal. Kentucky is in good shape at left tackle for quite some time to come.