Chris Glaser had his best season as an offensive lineman at UVA in 2020. You knew that. What you didn’t know: he played the season on a torn labrum in his hip that would eventually require surgery.
What makes this more remarkable: he knew it all along.
“The torn hip was found out right before the season, and it was more of a struggle, just because I knew that I’d eventually have to go get the surgery,” said Glaser, who put up a career-best 67.4 Pro Football Focus grade and averaged a career-high 73.4 snaps per game in 2020.
The hardest part about it: “knowing that at the end of the season, I’d eventually have to get the surgery, that it was a date that was coming, and just trying to put it behind me, not think about it, take the proper medication, rehab during the season, to keep it at bay as long as possible,” Glaser said.
That’s a lot weighing on you as you’re also practicing, trying to stay in tip-top shape and getting up to speed on game plans each week.
And again, this was a guy who had his best season as a collegian last year. Glaser allowed just 11 pressures – and no sacks – in 461 pass-blocking snaps, for a 97.6 percent success rate and 78.0 PFF grade, while grading out at 63.9 on his 273 run blocks.
Offensive line coach Garrett Tujague praised Glaser’s “warrior mentality” in playing through pain to anchor the unit last season.
“Last year was his greatest jump in production, it’s not even close, when he went from being maybe an average player to a good player in the ACC. I’m anticipating him taking that same jump this year, but with a better, much more functional hip,” Tujague said.
Glaser had surgery shortly after the season finale last December, and was able to work himself back to be available for the final four practices before the spring game.
The super senior is a fixture on a line that returns 11 of the 12 players who took snaps in 2020, accounting for 90.3 percent of the snaps for the position group in 2020.
It’s a deep and experienced group that should be a strength for a UVA offense that goes into 2021 with high expectations.
“Yeah, man, I love the depth, right,” Tujague said. “It’s been awesome, because there’s battles going on at each tackle spot, there’s battles going on at the guard spot. And so again, it’s just like, come here, you’re out and put the next guy in. There’s no better motivator than the bench. When you’re standing next to me on the sidelines, that’s not fun. You want to be out there.
“Being able to have that depth and knowing, you know, that anybody can replace you at any time, that’s a great feeling as a coach. And I think I think the guys are embracing it too, because they know that their reps can be limited based upon their performance,” Tujague said.
The O line depth is a big part of the high expectations for the UVA offense. The Cavalier line is among the most experienced in the nation heading into the season.
To Glaser and his line-mates, that’s all just talk.
“As offensive linemen, you don’t have the limelight, nor should I think you should expect it,” Glaser said. “Our job is just, you know, to go out there protect those skill players, make them look good. So when that stuff does come up, it’s more of a just leave it behind you. You hear it, but you don’t take it in, because at the end of the day, we still have to do our job, and whether they say we’re good or not, we have to uphold that standard that we had last year.”
Story by Chris Graham