As a three-year starter, Ramadan Ahmeti has the experience and talent to successfully protect the blind side of Central Michigan quarterback Cooper Rush. A strong offensive line will be imperative this season for the Chippewas, as it is the key to a successful rushing attack, and, therefore, a successful season. He returns the second-most starts on the Central Michigan offensive line with 23, trailing only fellow redshirt senior center Nick Beamish, a 1st Team All-MAC selection in 2014, with 38. Cooper Rush will rely on these two for their pass protection prowess in 2015.
A big year is to be expected from Ahmeti, our 31st ranked player in the MAC, as he was named to Phil Steele's preseason All-MAC first team and Athlon's All-MAC third team. Despite losing 72 starts on the offensive line to graduation, the group still had room for improvement last season. They ranked in the bottom half of the league in sacks allowed, surrendering 28 sacks last season. This season, they lose guard Andy Phillips and tackle Kevin Henry, which will make Ramadan's performance that much more vital to the team's success in both the rushing and passing attacks.
With an inexperienced crop of running backs for the Chippewas this season, Ahmeti will be called upon to open holes for these young backs. At 6-foot-7 and 296 pounds, according to Central Michigan's website, the sociology major boasts a lean frame for a lineman of his height. This athletic build allows for him to be able to reach the second level and make the necessary blocks to further open up holes in the running game.
Ramadan Ahmeti will be put to the test in a couple of contests against major non-conference opponents. In week one, Ahmeti will come face-to-face with Oklahoma State stud defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah. In week four, the Chips will visit East Lansing for a game against Michigan State, where Ahmeti will have to protect his quarterback from one of the top defensive ends in the 2016 draft class in Shilique Calhoun. Ahmeti's performance against these strong opponents may determine his team's offensive success.
Back in 2013, when CMU's then-starting left tackle Jake Olson broke his wrist in a game against New Hampshire, Ahmeti took his spot, and started the rest of the games that season. After his first start the following week at UNLV, then-head coach Dan Enos said, "He played well. He was solid in there... UNLV’s defensive ends are physical and explosive and I thought he did a pretty good job." From that point on, Ahmeti has been a strength of the Central Michigan offensive line. He has learned from former number 1 overall pick Eric Fisher, and I expect him to come through with an impressive senior season for the Chippewa offense.
He will play at a high level (perhaps higher than the rest of the offense), and earn himself a spot on an All-Mac team by season's end.