Wake Forest offensive lineman Frank Souza has been playing right guard for only a handful of months now, so you would expect the typical bumps in the road that come with completely changing positions.
Yet Souza has made a relatively smooth transition, avoiding most of the major roadblocks to win a starting job despite his limited experience playing offense.
Souza made his first career start at right guard against Liberty last week, and will be in the starting lineup again against North Carolina on Saturday. What is truly remarkable about his story is the progress he has made in such a short period of time to go from backup defensive lineman to offensive starter.
“What we like about Frank is he's an aggressive guy and he's very coachable,” coach Jim Grobe said. “He's a guy that we think, as we go forward -- I know he's going to have some growing pains early -- but we think athletically he's a guy that can be a really good offensive lineman.”
Souza played in 18 games, with three starts, as a defensive lineman. But coaches thought he could be even better on offense, particularly with depth concerns and a glaring need to replace four starters on the line.
When coaches approached him about moving, spring practice was nearly over. He started out at left tackle. With only a handful of practices under his belt, he played in the spring game without knowing much of anything.
“I basically watched what everyone else was doing,” Souza said in a recent phone interview. “It was tough. I just tried to remember the basic kind of things as to what I was doing and if I had any questions, they told me what to do. Most of the plays were basic. I felt like I handled it well.”
After Souza returned to school for the start of offseason workouts, coaches told him they wanted him to move to right guard.
“Coach walked up to me and said, ‘I figure you don’t know the left tackle spot as it is now,’ so he walked me through everything and told me what to do,” Souza said. “That’s when I started hitting the play book to understand the right guard spot.
“I did a lot of film study, too. It helped coming from a defensive point of view. I already know as a defensive lineman what I have to do to try and beat an offensive lineman so I already have in my head what’s going on. I feel like I know the answers before they’re even there.”
Souza credits offensive line coach Jonathan Himebauch for helping him understand concepts clearly. Center Garrick Williams also has been a huge help, as the lone returning starter on the offensive line and most experienced player up front.
What also has helped is his strength and size. Souza is one of the biggest players on the team at 310 pounds. As a defensive lineman, he often had to worry about his weight. Now, that is the least of his concerns.
Getting better each week -- that is his top priority.
“I feel like everyone’s excited for me,” Souza said. “I feel like I’ve picked up my new position well and my teammates and coaches realize that. I just feel good about everything.”