1. Florida State: The Seminoles have everybody back and I mean everybody. Their entire Offense is coming back, and most of their Defense.
Left Tackle Roderick Johnson will be in his third season as a starter and he is a good one. The other tackle should be Chad Mavety, if he can hold off Brock Ruble and Rick Leonard. I would not be surprised at all if Rick Leonard moved into the starting role after seeing him in the Spring Game. Leonard could be a great one and I wrote about him here in potential breakout players for 2016: 2016
Kareem Are returns at Left Guard and Wilson Bell at Right Guard, with Alec Eberle at Center. Corey Martinez and Ryan Hoefield are good back ups and the Seminoles have recruited well. Last year, they signed the 4th rated Offensive Tackle in the nation in Abdul Bello, plus Cole Minshaw, Ethan Firth and David Robbins. In another case of the rich get richer, the Seminoles reeled in a bumper crop of Offensive Linemen in their 2016 class. Baveon Johnson is the top ranked Center in the country by ESPN’s recruiting rankings. Landon Dickerson is one of the top rated Offensive Tackles. Jauan Williams and Josh Ball are huge Offensive Tackles at 6-7, 305 and 6-8, 325 respectively, and could play pretty quickly. They also signed Mike Arnold and Andrew Boselli, the son of NFL great Tony Boselli.
2. USC: Nobody in the country has ever had more quality Offensive Linemen than the USC Trojans over the decades. From Anthony Munoz, to Tony Boselli, to Ron Yary, the Trojans have had more top All American Offensive Linemen than anyone and it’s not really even close.
For 2016, the Trojans also return everybody up front and then a few extras. Some of these guys started every game as true freshmen.
Chad Wheeler and Zach Banner both return at Offensive Tackle and both of them have plenty of experience. Banner is a monster at 6-9. 360.
Guards will be manned by Viane Talamaivao and Damien Mama, and both of them started as true freshmen. Mama is another huge guy at 6-4, 355.
Center could be Khaliel Rodgers or Toa Lobendahn. Lobendahn started there after senior Max
Tuerk was injured, and then Lobendahn was also hurt. Rodgers started there at the end of the season.
Roy Helmsley and Chuma Edoga are the back up Tackles. Chris Brown and Jordan Simmons should back up the Guards.
3. Michigan: There’s no doubt that Michigan is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with since the arrival of Jim Harbaugh. The Offensive Line returns 4 out of 5 starters losing only Center Graham Glasgow who was actually a big loss.
Two year starter at Left Tackle, Mason Cole, moves inside to Center and outstanding redshirt freshman Grant Newsome is taking the Left Tackle spot.
Eric Magnuson returns at Right Tackle, with Ben Braden and Kyle Kalis returning at the Guard positions.
Patrick Kugler can play at Center, too, if necessary. Juwann Bushell-Beatty, Ben Pliska, Jon
Runyan and Dave Dawson provide quality depth inside.
Ben Bredeson is one of the top Offensive Linemen recruits in the country. Michael Onwenu is a man monster out of Detoit. Stephen Spanellis is an incoming recruit out of Baltimore.
Ben Braden is one of the top Guards in the country and this unit as a whole will continue to improve.
4. Pittsburgh: The Panthers are becoming a team that I enjoy watching because of their brand of power football. They have an excellent coach in Pat Narduzzi and also return 4 out of 5 of their starters. They did lose Center Artie Rowell who signed with the Arizona Cardinals as a free agent.
Gabe Roberts could take over at Center.
The other positions are all set and all the returners are very solid. Adam Bisnowaty returns at Left Tackle and is one of the better Offensive Tackles in the country. He is 6-6, 300 and little fat compared to a lot of Offensive Linemen. He is pretty good at both run and pass blocking. I’ve been a fan of Bisnowaty for a while because he can play. Right Tackle Brian O’Nell came to Pitt as a Tight End and was switched over to Offensive Tackle. He put on the necessary weight while redshirting and is now a solid 6-6, 290 Tackle.
Weight is not a problem for Guards Alex Officer and Dorian Johnson. Officer is 6-4, 335 and Johnson tips the scales at 300. Alex Bookser is a top reserve and one to watch for in the future.
Pittsburgh has had one of the better running games in football for the past two seasons and if Quarterback Nate Peterson can stay healthy, the Panthers could be really competitive in 2016. Recruiting has picked up for the Panthers and optimism is high in the Steel City.
5. Clemson: The Tigers had a couple of losses up front, but they have plenty of talent. Left Tackle Mitch Hyatt started last season as a true freshman and will be a first round pick in a couple of years.
They lost their Left Guard and Right Tackle, but they also return Jay Guillermo at Center and Right Guard Tyrone Crowder who are both really good.
Maverick Morris should be the next Left Guard if he can beat out Taylor Heam, and he started 3 games last year when Tyrone Carter was injured. Jake Fruhmorgan was a very highly recruited Offensive Tackle in the 2015 recruiting class and he started one game last year at Right Tackle. He is a talent and should take over that position in 2016.
They redshirted Noah Green and Zach Giella last year and landed Sean Pollard, John Simpson, Tremayne Anchrum, Chandler Reeves and Cade Stewart this past recruiting class.
The Clemson Tigers have recruited some outstanding players in recent years illustrated partly in the Offensive Line by Mitch Hyatt and Jake Fruhmorgan,
6. Florida: The Gators have had their struggles in the Offensive Line for a while and they were young last season. But, this unit should be much improved in 2016 and sometimes it really is about coaching.
David Sharpe returns at Left Tackle after winning the job part way through the season last year. He is a huge mass of humanity at 6-6, 345 but he can move for his size. He will surprise with his lateral quickness. Lining up beside him at Left Guard is Martez Ivey. He was the top Tackle recruit in the country last season and came in and played immediately. He started some at Left Tackle before finding his home at Left Guard. He should be an All American before he is finished at Florida. The Tyler Jordan or Cameron Dillard depending on who you talk to.
new Center should be
Jordan was another outstanding recruit for the Gators and was projected as a Center, but he actually saw some time at Right Guard last year. If Jordan doesn’t start at Center, expect him to compete with Antonio Riles and Andrew Mike for the Right Guard position supremacy.
Fred Johnson may be the most intriguing player in the Offensive Line for the Gators. He is fairly new to football and didn’t start playing until he was almost out of high school. But, he is a big, big man. Some have him listed at 6-6 and some at 6-8 and around 315. He has quick and athletic feet for a big man and he should start at Right Tackle this season.
Most of their back ups are really young like Brandon Sandifer, but they have some talent.
7. Tennessee: Optimism is high in Knoxville like it hasn’t been in years. The Offensive Line performed pretty well in 2015 and expectations are high for 2016. Much excitement should be expected due to 4 out of 5 starters returning.
The strength of the Volunteers Offensive Line comes from the inside positions. Offensive Guards Jashon Robertson and Dylan Weisman have nearly 40 starts between them and have gotten some All SEC mention. At Center, Coleman Thomas started every game last season after moving there from Right Tackle.
Thomas was replaced at Right Tackle by Brett Kendrick who started a few of the games in 2015 when he wasn’t injured. Chance Hall started the games at Right Tackle when Kendrick was out.
Left Tackle should be redshirt freshman Drew Richmond. He was one of the top Offensive Tackle recruits in the country in the 2015 class. Richmond will have to beat out former Junior College player, Dontavius Blair, but Blair has not started yet as had been expected.
Jack Jones is probably the top reserve at Offensive Guard after having started one game last year as a true freshman. His one and only start was against national champion Alabama and he was competitive.
Venzell Boulware, Ray Raulerson and Austin Sanders should provide quality depth so that the Vols won’t have to play a true freshman this season.
8. LSU: The LSU Tigers always have a good ground and pound Offensive Line. This year’s unit would be rated higher, but they are replacing too many starters from last season. Still, this is a good Offensive Line and they will prove it again in 2016.
In the Spring, massive Maea Teuhema started at Left Tackle. But, in my humble opinion, he is an All American at Left Guard and that’s where he should stay. He came in and started as a true freshman last season and he has greatness all over him at Guard.
If he does stay at Guard look for KJ Malone, the son of NBA legend Karl Malone, to start at Left Tackle. I realize this is a lot of ‘ifs’, but if Teuhema does move to Tackle permanently, then William Clapp probably starts at Left Guard.
Ethan Pocic returns at Center where he started in 2015 after moving from Right Guard where he
started in 2014. He is impressive.
Garrette Broomfield is expected to start at Right Guard and Toby Weathersby at Right Tackle. Both are inexperienced, but both are really talented.
Chidi Valentine-Okeke provides quality depth at either Tackle spot, along with George Brown and Jevonte Domond.
At Guard, Josh Boutte and Adrian Magee are the depth. Leave it to LSU to recruit lights out and Willie Brown was the 2nd rated Offensive Tackle in the 2016 class.
9. North Carolina: The Tar Heels did lose their best Offensive Lineman last year when Landon Turner used up his eligibility. But, everyone else returns.
Left Tackle Bentley Spain really developed lst season and he’s a solid Tackle and he’s starting to gain some national attention. At the other Tackle is 4 year starter Jon Heck. As the son of a former Notre Dame and NFL Offensive Tackle and now an Offensive Line coach in the NFL, Heck has been around the game his entire life. RJ Prince and William Sweet should be the back up Tackles.
Lucas Crowley returns at Center and this will be his third season as a starter. He earned some All ACC mention last year and could do the same in 2016. Tommy Hatton redshirted last year and he
should be the future at Center.
Landon Turner will be missed at Guard, but the Heels still have plenty of experience. Caleb Peterson returns at Left Guard and he was 2nd team All ACC last year. Brad Henson moves into Turner’s old spot, but Henson has also played quite a bit.
This is a really good and experienced Offensive Line.
10. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys return every starter from last season and that’s normally a good thing. But, the Cowboys almost finished dead last in the nation last year in rushing and that is not a good thing. They also finished really poorly in sacks allowed. Surely, with a year’s experience under their belts and another year in the weight room and film room, these guys will be better in 2016.
Victor Salako returns at Left Tackle and he is a load at 6-6, 335. But, he’s also really stiff and he tries the same tricks too often such as taking the legs out of the defender and it rarely works. He will be backed again by Matthew Mucha who has supposedly made great strides in the Spring.
Lining up beside him at Left Guard is Michael Wilson who is going into his senior season and his third season as a starter. Wilson is 6-6, 305, but really quick for his size. He’s got outstanding feet and blocks with great intensity and aggressiveness. He’s a good pass blocker as well. Backing up Wilson should be Junior College transfer Larry Williams, but as good as Wilson is they should redshirt Williams.
Former Walk-on Brad Lundblade returns at Center. He is 6-3, 300 and intelligent enough to make Academic All Big 12 in 2015. Lemaefe Galea’i backed him up last season after redshirting in 2014.
Jesse Robinson became the starter at Right Guard by the end of the 2014 season and remained there last season. At, 6-5, 315 he moves pretty well and they have him pulling pretty frequently.
Right Tackle Zachary Crabtree is 6-7, 310 and has started since his freshman season in 2014.
11. Miami: The Hurricanes have struggled in recent years and part of the blame can be placed on the Offensive Line, for sure. Part of the problem may have been youth, but they have every starter back
from last season. They have a new head coach in Mark Richt who usually had a good Offensive Line at Georgia. He hired experienced Offensive Line coach Stacy Searels from Virginia Tech who has a history of success.
Junior Left Tackle Trevor Darling is in his third year as a starter. He started at Right Tackle as a true freshman before moving to the left side as a sophomore. Left Guard KC McDermott was a former very highly recruited lineman and the little brother of former Cane Shane McDermott. He has played all over the front line in the past two seasons.
At Center is another younger brother of a former Hurricane, Nick Linder is the brother of Jacksonville Jaguar Brian Linder. Nick started at Guard as a true freshman, but moved over to Center last year and found a home.
Danny Isodore returns as the most experienced Offensive Lineman at the Right Guard position. Sunny Odogwu returns at Right Tackle if he can beat out promising Tyree St Louis.
Alex Gall has started at both Guard and Center and could play either if needed.
Jahair Jones is a back up at Tackle and the sophomore from Brooklyn, New York is a big fellow at 6-4, 325. Hunter Knighton is the probable back up to McDermott at Left Guard. Tyler Gauthier will back up Linder at Center.
They have some good redshirt freshmen like Bar Milo, Brendan Loftus and Hayden Mahoney that will challenge for playing time eventually.
This unit should be much improved in 2016 and so should the Miami Hurricanes over all. It could be an exciting 2016 season.
12. Iowa: The Midwest is where it’s at for Offensive Linemen. Linemen are good from everywhere, but there’s just something about these corn fed linemen. The Iowa Hawkeyes usually have a pretty good Offensive Line in spite of the way they looked in the Rose Bowl against Stanford.
Cole Croston is supposed to be the Left Tackle and Ike Boettger over at Right Tackle.
Croston played on the right side last year. Boone Myers should be the starter at Left Guard after starting at Left Tackle for part of last season. Sean Walsh was All Big 10 last year at Right Guard and he’s back to anchor the 2016 Offensive Line.
The Hawkeyes did loses their Center, Austin Blythe. James Daniels should be the new Center, but he was out all Spring. If he can’t go, walk-on and head coaches son, Steve Ferentz could be the guy.
There is nobody like Brandon Scherff on the roster, but there are a lot of young and potentially good players coming up like Brett Waechter, Levi and Landon Paulsen and Keegan Render coming up through the ranks.
13. Virginia Tech: I probably have the Hokie Offensive line not rated closer to the top of this list mistakenly. They return 4 out of 5 starters and have some up an coming talent on the way. Left Tackle Jonathan McLaughlin moved to the Right Tackle and potential All ACC and more Yosuah Nijman is supposed to take his place. Guards Wyatt Teller and Augie Conte are talented and experienced. Eric Gallo returns at Center. The Hokies could surprise some people with new head coach Justin Fuente taking over for Frank Beamer and new Quarterback Jerod Evans. By the season’s end the Hokie line may be one of the best and especially if Yosuah Nijman is as good as we think.