he New England Patriots will be expecting first-round pick Cole Strange to make life easier for Mac Jones but the offensive lineman didn’t always enjoy protecting the passer.
While it might seem like it, Strange didn’t start off as an offensive lineman. He was primarily a defensive end in high school but never played the position in college.
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After being red-shirted in his first season at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, it took a while for Strange to earn the starting guard position. He ended up starting the final six games of the season in 2017 for Chattanooga.
But when Strange was first learning to become an offensive lineman, there was some areas of the game that he liked more than the others.
“Whenever I moved to O-line, pass blocking was the most foreign thing in the world to me, and I hated it, because I was like, ‘I’m backing up.’ I was like, ‘I hate this more than anything,’” Strange said to Trench Warfare’s Brandon Thorn. “In high school, every play I was firing off the ball, moving forward. I came around to it, obviously. I hated it, I think, a lot more because I was just not very good at it at first.”
Lots of Turnover
Strange spent six seasons thanks to being red-shirted in his first year and gaining an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
While Strange had stability staying at the same school for his entire collegiate career, his time in Chattanooga was quite volitile. He had six offensive line coaches in six seasons with the team.
“I had six offensive line coaches at my time at UTC,” Strange told Thorn. “So we got taught outside zone differently by different coaches. The last coach I had taught us a certain way, but by game two or three … He taught us a certain way, but he told us, ‘If you can block it, block it.’”
The lack of having consitent coaching played a role in how his technique developed. In the 2021 season, Strange’s offensive line coach was alos the running back coach for Chattanooga.
“We didn’t have an offensive line coach, so I jumped over there for the spring,” Ricky Spradling told CLNS’ Evan Lazar. “To be honest with you, I leaned on Cole and a couple of those older guys to help us get through the spring season.”
Lean, Mean, Blocking Machine
Patriots fans can expect to get a hard working player once Strange hits the field in New England. He doesn’t mold his game after anyone, he wants to create his own style of play.
“I have always wanted to play my own game and make it to where people are saying ‘I’d love to play like Cole Strange,” said the Patriots’ first round selection when meeting with the media after being selected by the team. “I have never really looked at anyone else and wanted to emulate what they were doing. I wanted to create my own way of playing which is aggressive and trying to play nasty, which is the way I think the game of football is supposed to be played.”
With minicamp beginning on May 13th, Patriots fans won’t have to wait long to see Strange on the field.