Heading into his fourth season at Georgia Tech, junior utility lineman Ray Beno has played all three positions on the offensive line for the Jackets before finding a home at left tackle. Beno will head into fall practice penciled in as the starter at that position, but there is plenty of competition for playing time and the Jackets' most versatile lineman isn't taking anything for granted.
After sitting out the 2009 campaign and redshirting, Beno shifted from center to guard and eventually ended up at offensive tackle. As a sophomore, Beno started 12 games at left tackle and played in all 13 contests. This past spring with just 16 games of experience Beno found himself as one of the most experienced players on the team and a leader to the younger offensive linemen.
"It is very surreal and it seems like just yesterday I arrived here as a freshman and was being redshirted. Now I have one year under my belt and I am in a position where I have to teach the younger guy," Beno said. "It is very surreal and it came quick."
Beno won the starting left tackle job in fall camp last year, but he says he really enjoys getting to play everywhere on the line.
"It is fun to play everywhere and my versatility helps the team out. I know all of us can play anywhere on the line, but getting snaps at the different positions really keeps me up to date and keeps me very sharp on the different positions," he said.
Heading into the 2012 season the Jackets have the most talented and deepest group of offensive linemen head coach Paul Johnson has seen in his five years on the Flats. Beno says younger players will push at every position and he could be in a dogfight to maintain his spot at left tackle.
"Trey Braun really caught my eye this spring. He has been here since last spring and he is coming along well in the year he has been at Tech. Bryan Chamberlain has also impressed me a lot. The amount of effort and energy Bryan has put in to be the number two guy at tackle or even possibly beat me out and be the starter is amazing. He is really working his butt off and really starting to focus on spot," he said.
Beno and company could return all five starters from the end of the 2012 season if Omoregie Uzzi is cleared for competition before the start of fall camp. It would be the first time in Coach Johnson's tenure at Tech that has happened.