Promising Hornet offensive line puts injuries in past

Hornets center Cade Pedro, a preseason All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference selection, missed the final eight games of his sophomore season with a knee injury but feels great in training camp. DSU Athletics photo

DOVER — There was a lot of optimism about Delaware State University’s offensive line headed into last season.

Its young core was coming off a strong 2016 campaign. But thanks to injuries, the next step many envisioned for the unit never materialized in 2017.

By year’s end, three of the starting five were sidelined.

As the Hornets progress through preseason camp, the line is healthy once again.

It’s led by junior center Cade Pedro, a preseason All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference selection. Pedro missed the final eight games of his sophomore season with a knee injury.

“I feel great,” Pedro said. “I think the whole injury process allowed me to take a step back and learn the game mentally because that was where I struggled in the past. If anything it just made me stronger.”

Sophomore left guard Matthew Derks and junior right tackle Kaiden Crawford also missed multiple games due to injuries in 2017.

Like Pedro, they each spent the off-season rehabilitating. Pedro started his rehab only three days after surgery.

“It was very aggressive,” Pedro said.

“I wanted to make sure I had my range of motion back and my strength back because that’s what I need at my position.”

The three were all part of DSU’s 2016 offensive line, which helped the team to 128.7 rushing yards a game. That mark was good enough for sixth in the conference, the best showing for the Hornets in the past eight years.

Liki Seu is also back for his sophomore season after winning a starting spot as a freshman in 2017. Seu will line up at right guard.

Cade Pedro

The final spot is at left tackle, where R.J. Moli is considered the front-runner. Moli is a junior college transfer from DeAnza College in California who was projected to play guard, but has settled as the first choice at left tackle for the time being.

First-year coach Rod Milstead said sophomore Savion Hopes is also pushing for playing time at left tackle.

“It’s a good position for us and we got some backups who are fighting to be in that position,” “The great thing about it is we got two more weeks to decide who is going to be our starting five.”

The Hornets do not have a single senior offensive linemen on the roster.

“We got a lot of talent and a lot of hard working kids that have a lot to prove,” Pedro said. “We got a lot of kids with nothing to lose and everything to prove.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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