The Huskies have shifted Ben Riva across the offensive line, moving the 6-foot-6, 306-pound junior from right to left tackle because, as Steve Sarkisian noted, Riva has shown the potential to be an “elite” left tackle with NFL upside.
“That’d be cool,” Riva said of his pro prospects. “(But) that’s really not my focus right now. I want to win some games here first.”
To do more of that, Riva knows he and his linemates will need to keep senior QB Keith Price upright this season.
“Everybody knows if he’s comfortable back there, he can tear (defenses) apart,” Riva said. “He’s really happy. He’s got his smile on and he’s having fun. It’s his senior year and we want to make it the best for him.”
Injuries riddled the O-line last year, but Sarkisian said he likes the progress made on the line during the first week of camp — and, in particular, the “nastiness” that is developing with the front five.
Among the linemen, Riva has “snatched the leadership role up by the throat,” Sarkisian said.
Riva has added about 30-35 pounds since arriving on campus from O’Dea High School a few years ago. He’s been eating six meals a day in the offseason to maintain his weight — no fast food, he said — and he seems to be fitting in quite well on the left side of the line.
“Obviously, offensive tackles get paid a lot of money (in the NFL) … but geometrically it’s no different (from right to left),” he said.
Micah Hatchie has moved from left to right tackle, with Dexter Charles playing left guard with the No. 1 offense and Mike Criste at center; Colin Tanigawa and James Atoe have split reps at right guard in camp so far as Tanigawa comes back from an ACL injury.
Riva has been impressed with Criste’s development at center, particularly with how he’s handled defensive tackle Danny Shelton.
“Mike’s doing a great job. It’s really starting to click for him,” Riva said. “I’m happy he’s there. I trust him a ton. You can just see on film the progress he’s made on film the last year, the last couple years. It’s night and day. … I remember he used to have a real problem with Danny Shelton in pass protection; now he’s doing a much better job.”
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