It appears Vanderbilt’s starting offensive line for the opener at Texas A&M is set, and it will look very different from the one fans were envisioning in the spring. After the oline was decimated in the preseason by a transfer and COVID-19 opt-outs, Coach Mason hinted at the possibility of moving defensive lineman to the other side of the ball.
During Coach Mason’s weekly visit on 104.5 the Zone’s 3HL Thursday, he made the first “recruit” from the defense official. Redshirt Senior Drew Birchmeier, who has started on the defensive line the past two seasons, will be switching to offense.
“We helped ourselves. Drew Birchmeier has moved from defensive line to the offensive line, and that helps us. You’re talking about a fifth-year senior, a guy who’s 310 pounds, moves well for a defensive lineman and his dad played offensive line. He’s got a little brother who’s one of the top recruits in the country.” Mason told 3HL.
“He started out as an offensive lineman, and he came to me as a veteran player and said, ‘Coach, I think I can help us.’ That helps tremendously, because now we’re not talking about a guy who’s got to get in the weight room. What you’re talking about is a guy who’s an athletic defensive lineman who’s moving to offense, and I think offensive football is so assignment-driven. He’s in graduate school right now, graduated with a 3.89 (GPA), so he’s smart enough to pick up anything that we throw in front of him.”
Mason also stated he felt confident with veterans Dan Dawkins, Connor Mignone, Grant Miller, Tyler Steen, along with Birchmeier as his “first five” with younger players like Brayden Bapst, Donald Fitzgerald, Jason Brooks, and Julian Hernandez as potential candidates for the immediate depth chart.
“I just think Coach Fitch understands their strengths and weaknesses, and now with (offensive line) Coach Rossomando, they’re doing a good job of trying to cement what those starting five can do and how the other guys are going to supplement because you’re going to have to play more than five guys.”