Less than two months from the start of the 2013 college football season! And it does indeed seem to be that time of year — when college football blogs like this one and so many others start churning out season preview materials. We’ll be holding off until August for the team-by-team season previews, but in the meantime, there’s nothing wrong with taking a look at each position on the field and evaluating ACC squads’ respective strengths and weaknesses.
This week, we’re on to the offensive lines (check out previous rankings of ACC quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers/tight ends). The conference has been churning out pro prospects across the offensive line for years, and this season also possesses at least a few (if not more) players who will be suiting up on Sundays within the next few years.
Keep in mind that these are full unit rankings — not just one player — so just because one individual center/tackle/guard is better than another, it doesn’t necessarily mean the team’s entire crop of offensive linemen is (though it certainly does help). Also note: Louisville (as has been the case since November) is included here, despite playing in the American this season. Additionally, since these are completely subjective rankings, the difference between one number to the following one is almost entirely negligible. Still, disagree with any of these picks? Share your own selections below.
ACC Positional Rankings 2013: Offensive Line
1. Miami Hurricanes: This is the group responsible for Duke Johnson‘s breakout 2012 campaign, and will ultimately decide just how far the ‘Canes go this fall as well. You could dub guard Brandon Linder the “leader” of this line, but then you’d also be selling the other four returning starters short. In Linder and fellow senior Seantrel Henderson, Miami has as experienced and solid a right side of the line as you’ll find anywhere in the country. If you’re looking for prospective NFL players, this is the spot, with Linder and Henderson as the clear highlights.
2. Florida State Seminoles: In center Bryan Stork and guard Tre’ Jackson, Florida State returns two of the conference’s best offensive linemen — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Four out of five starters from 2012’s group are back in total and the only addition is right tackle Bobby Hart, who saw significant playing time last season as well. They’ll be challenged this year, protecting an inexperienced passer, while also receiving the luxury of two veteran running backs to help improve upon last year’s 24th-ranked rushing offense.
3. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: When you have the run-heavy triple-option attack that Georgia Tech does, you need as many big bodies on the line as possible. Lucky for this year’s squad, they’ve got plenty of those, and experienced ones at that. All five starters have at least a season’s-worth of time in their current roles, with guard Will Jackson starting since his freshman season (at both guard and tackle). Should the team pass the ball more this year (seems likely), it may be a slight mindset adjustment. But considering Tech only allowed 14 sacks all of last season — even on fewer dropbacks — it may end up being a simple transition.