As we move forward yet again in our countdown of the Top 60 players at The U, we look at No. 43 on our list: Senior offensive tackle Matt Pipho. The 6-7, 307-pounder from Iowa is being counted on -- at least early -- to step up his game and play a lot more than he has in his career. Will Pipho surprise us or will he go back to being what he has been in his first four seasons at UM -- a seldom used backup?
> What we heard about him on Signing Day '05: Pipho (pronounced PEE-po) was an all-state selection at Union High in LaPorte City, Iowa as a tight end and defensive end. He racked up 50 tackles and seven sacks as a senior and also starred in track and baseball. He became the first athlete in his hometown of 2,500 to receive a scholarship to a Division I program. He chose the Hurricanes over Stanford. Rivals.com rated him the 38th best offensive tackle in the country. Scout.com rated him 76th.
> What he's done as a Cane: Pipho has yet to make a start in his four seasons at the University of Miami despite playing in 26 games. He was redshirted in 2005, and played mostly on extra points in 2006 and 2007. Last season when Reggie Youngblood and Jason Fox went down with injuries, he was forced into duty. He played plenty against Virginia and Virginia Tech until they returned the following week. This spring, with Youngblood and Chris Rutledge gone, he's worked with the first team at right tackle.
> What Eye On The U expects from him in '09: Entering the fall, Pipho is the projected starter at right tackle for the Hurricanes. Now in his fifth season, you would have hoped Pipho would have already started already at some point in his career. But the fact he hasn't (on a team not exactly loaded with offensive line talent) tells you something. Although coach Jeff Stoutland says all the right things about Pipho, there is no denying there are younger players behind Pipho who are more talented and more highly touted. The question is: Will those guys be good enough to beat him out for playing time in 2009? In the weight room, Pipho's 308-pound power clean lift is tied with Jason Fox for the second strongest among offensive lineman. That's comforting. But will Pipho be able to combat some of the nation's best defensive ends in the ACC like Fox has? That's a totally different issue. History tells us we shouldn't have a lot of confidence in a fifth-year senior who has zero starts (I don't have a lot either). Don't be shocked if freshman Jermaine Johnson -- switched to right tackle at the end of the spring -- eventually beats Pipho out for playing time by the end of the season.