The battle to become UM’s starting left guard has developed into a three-horse race between freshman Nick Linder (6-3, 285), sophomore Alex Gall (6-5, 306) and junior Hunter Wells (6-6, 312), and coach Al Golden said Wednesday he’s going to let it play out over the next 24 to 48 hours.
Last Saturday against Duke, it was Linder who replaced fifth-year senior Jonathan Feliciano at left guard when he was moved over to right tackle to fill in for injured starter Taylor Gadbois in the fourth quarter.
Gall, who hasn’t played since the Arkansas State game because of a back injury, finally practiced with the team as a full participant Wednesday. Wells, meanwhile, is back with the team this week after serving a one-game suspension against Duke for a failed drug test.
“Obviously, Alex was kind of the front-runner before the injury,” Golden said. “I’m interested to see as I go in and watch [practice film] how he did and how his conditioning is and all that. We’ll see how it shakes out in the next 48 hours.”
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Golden said Linder, the younger brother of former Hurricanes lineman Brandon Linder, is big enough and strong enough to physically handle the starting job even though he’s the youngest of the three fighting for it.
▪ After “protecting” Duke Johnson’s sprained right ankle in Tuesday’s practice, Golden said his star tailback “was great [Wednesday], 100 percent, ready to go.”