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Virginia loses Oluwatimi, Haskins, Bissinger: What this means for the O line in 2022

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Photo courtesy UVA Athletics.

Three huge losses for the Virginia offensive line have come down in the past 36 hours: Olusegun Oluwatimi is going to Michigan, Bobby Haskins is on his way to Southern Cal, and Joe Bissinger is headed to SMU.

“The last four years being a Virginia football player have been the most rewarding of my entire life,” Haskins posted in a Twitter message on Sunday. “I am forever grateful for the relationships I have been fortunate enough to build with my teammates, coaches, athletic trainers, equipment staff, and athletic staff members. For the rest of my life I will be proud to call myself a Virginia football player.

“With that being said, I am incredibly blessed and excited to put everything I have into my last year of college football, playing for Coach Riley at the University of Southern California. Fight on!”

“Thank you UVA for everything these past four years,” Bissinger tweeted on Monday. “I look forward to this next chapter as I am committed to SMU. I am coming home.

OIuwatimi was a second-team All-American at center in 2021. He made 12 starts, played 910 snaps and had a 79.4 Pro Football Focus grade this past season, tops on the O line group, and was a Rimington Trophy Finalist as one of the top three centers in the nation in 2021.

Olu allowed 20 QB pressures (three sacks) on 630 pass dropbacks (3.2 percent), second-best for the O line unit in 2021.

Haskins saw action in 10 games in 2021, with seven starts and 654 snaps. His 65.7 PFF grade ranked fifth among the seven Cavaliers who had starts on the O line this past season.

He allowed 27 QB pressures (three sacks) on 440 pass dropback snaps (6.1 percent), sixth among those seven.

Bissinger had four starts and 389 snaps in 2021, with a 59.7 PFF grade. He allowed just six QB pressures on 261 pass dropback snaps (a team-best 2.3 percent) this past season.

The two commitments come amid reports that new UVA head coach Tony Elliott is retaining the incumbent offensive line coach, Garett Tujague, whose group ranked 35th in pass blocking and 31st in run blocking in 2021, per PFF.

The retention of Tujague might have been expected to have influenced the decisions of the four O linemen who entered the transfer portal after Bronco Mendenhall stepped down earlier this month – Haskins, Bissinger, Oluwatimi and tackle Ryan Swoboda (11 starts, 787 snaps, 70.3 PFF grade).

And now Haskins is heading to SoCal, Bissinger is on his way to SMU, and Oluwatimi has been rumored to be on his way to Michigan for a couple of weeks now.

Guard Chris Glaser (12 starts, 864 snaps, 72.3 PFF grade) is done in terms of eligibility, having used his COVID redshirt year in 2021, so with him

With Oluwatimi joining Haskins and Bissinger on the waiver wire, it will be important for Elliott and Tujague to keep Swoboda, who at right tackle is the blind side protector for left-handed QB1 Brennan Armstrong, to provide something of a building block for the line for 2022.

Senior Ryan Nelson (12 starts, 806 snaps, 69.7 PFF grade) has a year of eligibility left, and junior tackle Jonathan Leech (two starts, 83 snaps, 62.0 PFF grade) is the only other guy to see any significant action in 2021 for Virginia.

The O line was a position of strength for Virginia in 2021. The way things are trending, it’s going to be a position of rebuilding in 2022.

Story by Chris Graham

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