The Nevada football team's potential 2020 season has been pushed back to spring 2021 at the earliest, but we might as well finish the countdown we started earlier this summer. We are counting down the Wolf Pack's 25 most important players, one each as we head toward what is hopefully a season opener. Today's player: No. 13 Tyler Orsini.
Hometown: Ventura, Calif.
Career college stats: 10 games (four starts)
Why he's on the list: Center is an interesting position for Nevada. The Wolf Pack returns its top two starters at center from last year in local kid Nathan Edwards, who walked on to Nevada from Galena High, and junior-college transfer Tyler Orsini, who joined the team last season. Both are seniors, and both started some games last year. Edwards started nine games to Orsini's four, and Edwards was ranked by Pro Football Focus as the Wolf Pack's best offensive lineman last season. But the coaching staff appears to like Orsini more at the starting center position, which is why he gets the nod here. (Worth noting the line has a new position coach in Bill Best, so every player on the line has to make a new first impression on him.) Whoever wins the job will have to stabilize a line that was poor last season, especially in the run game between the tackles (Pro Football Focus ranked Nevada 123rd out of 130 FBS offensive lines, including 127th in run blocking). This year's group returns all five starters, including three seniors and two juniors, so inexperience can't be a crutch. The center position is crucial because that's the spot that makes the protection calls, and Nevada had issues there last season with a freshman quarterback (Carson Strong) working with inexperienced centers. After starting the season as a reserve following his transfer up a level from the JuCo ranks, Orsini took over as the starter halfway through the season before a foot injury sabotaged the back half of his season. If he can stay healthy and productive this year, it would be a big boost for an offensive line looking to return to the standard usually expected of the Union.
Sports columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @ByChrisMurray.