Staff photo: Jason Braverman
Wesleyan's David Andrews
Considering the job of an offensive lineman, it’s not surprising to hear David Andrews described as being very protective of his teammates.
However, with Wesleyan’s starting center, the issue becomes a “chicken or the egg” question.
Has the 6-foot-3, 290-pound senior become protective because of his many years playing on the offensive line? Or is he perfectly suited for playing on the line because he’s so protective by nature?
Andrews himself isn’t exactly sure of the answer, though he’d probably lean toward the former answer.
“I’ve played a lot of football in my life since first grade, and I’ve always been a lineman,” Andrews said. “So, that’s something that’s been instilled in me since I was young — that little protective instinct or quarterbacks and running backs. Especially went I got to high school, being a small school, (teammates) are also my really good friends. ... So, on the football field, I’ve got their backs, and I know they have mine.”
Wesleyan coach Franklin Pridgen, however, who has watched Andrews grow up both physically and emotionally over the past few years, wouldn’t discount the latter answer, either.
“He’s such a mature thinker,” Wesleyan coach Franklin Pridgen said Andrews. “He’s like the papa bear with his (cubs).
“He’s kind of a caretaker both on and off the field. He’s always looking after his buddies. ... He takes very seriously the brotherhood he develops with his teammates.”
Either way, it’s worked out well for the Wolves on the field.
For the past two seasons, the Wolves had have one of Gwinnett County’s most potent and balanced offensive attacks, which helped pave the way for the team’s 2008 Class A state championship and last year’s state quarterfinal finish.
And Andrews has been right in the middle of it.
From a tactical standpoint, Andrews’ strength — he bench presses 330 pounds, power cleans 315 and squats 500 — and technique have helped make it more difficult for opposing defenders to get to Wesleyan’s skill players.
Recently graduated quarterback Conor Welton left the Wesleyan program as the school’s all-time passing leader with 3,458 yards, while fellow senior Kyle Karempelis is already the school’s all-time leading rusher with 3,838 yards and will break the school’s rushing touchdown record with his next score.
And it wouldn’t have been possible without the contributions of the offensive line, especially Andrews who has been successful on 94 percent of his blocking assignments during his career, and never allowed either Welton or Andrew Frerking to be sacked on his watch in 450 pass attempts over the last two seasons.
It is a point of pride he often reminds his fellow linemen of.
“When Kyle and Conor broke their big records, I don’t think anyone was prouder than the linemen, led by David,” Pridgen said. “David would have conversations with the other linemen and tell them, ‘We’re getting the records for these guys. It’s part of our legacy.’”
But Andrews considers that legacy to be more than just a sense of achievement.
Every time the Wolves score a touchdown, he has an emotional attachment to whoever scores it, especially when it’s been Karempelis.
“Ever since our sophomore year, when we first were starting, he scored his first touchdown and I was sprinting down (the field) right behind him,” Andrews recalled. “He just turned around and ran and jumped at me, and I just picked him up.
“It wasn’t planned or anything. It kind of happened. And every time he scores (now), he kind of finds me.”
That kind emotional attachment with his teammates is something Andrews hopes to carry with him when he goes next fall to Georgia, where he has verbally committed after choosing the Bulldogs over scholarship offers from Michigan, Vanderbilt and Duke.
There he will reunite with former Wolves lineman and current redshirt freshman Josh Parrish, whom he says had a major impact on his career.
“Josh was there when I came in as a freshman,” Andrews said. “He’s like a big brother to me, especially when times were tough. He’s always there, and to be able to play a couple more years with him is great. It’ll be just like high school.”
Accordingly, Andrews is hoping to have the same impact on some of Wesleyan’s younger lineman like Parrish had on him, so that the Wolves program will be left in hands just as protective as his after he leaves.
“(The relationship with Parrish) is what I’m trying to do with the younger guys, and it’s definitely rubbed off on me in a good way,” Andrews said. “We have a couple of kids ... who haven’t had to play a big role yet, but it’s their time to step up now.”