May 24, 2024

College football’s 20 best offensive linemen of 2024

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College football's 20 best offensive linemen of 2024

LSU offensive lineman Will Campbell blocks Florida State defensive lineman Bryon Turner Jr., in the second quarter Sunday September 3, 2023 at Camping World Stadium. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

It’s all about mauling defenders and keeping the quarterback upright.

Breakfast is always served on the field during autumn Saturdays in the form of pancakes. These big uglies are immovable objects, who handle all of the dirty work in the trenches. Holding calls, false starts and high snaps are inexcusable in the clutch.

Great offensive line play dictates the rhythm of an offense, and controls time of possession. These 20 mammoth-sized players are ready to build on their successful campaigns, and wreak havoc in the trenches again.

20. Willie Lumpkin, Guard, North Carolina: The Florida native is shorter in stature than your typical Power Five offensive lineman, standing 5-foot-11, and weighing 290 pounds. However, Lumpkin is very physical, and has great hand placement. The former three-star prospect began his career at Coastal Carolina, where he played three seasons, and started a jaw-dropping, 38-straight games. Lumpkin started 11 games for the Tar Heels in 2o23. Not to mention he capped off his campaign with third-team, All-ACC honors. Lumpkin was a natural at opening up huge holes, and a big reason why North Carolina finished third in the ACC, and 19th in the FBS in rushing yards per game last year.

19. Connor Colby, Guard, Iowa: The Cedar Rapids native is one of the most-experienced offensive linemen in the Big Ten. Colby has a jaw-dropping, 37 career starts, including 13 last season. Colby also capped off his campaign with third-team, All-Big Ten honors. The Hawkeyes are starting to get back to holding their own in the trenches, and they’re returning plenty of experience, leadership and production. Not to mention Iowa will be operating under a new Offensive Coordinator in Tim Lester. The Hawkeyes haven’t had a game-changer on the offensive line since Tyler Linderbaum was anchoring the unit. However, Colby headlines a talented and deep group approaching the fall.

18.  Bryce Benhart, Tackle, Nebraska: The former four-star prospect is the Huskers’ most-experienced offensive lineman. Benhart has started a jaw-dropping, 41 games at right tackle, including all 12 last season. Not to mention he tied a school record for the most starts by an offensive lineman in program history. Benhart helped Nebraska finish second in the Big Ten in rushing yards per game in 2023. He’s also an intelligent student-athlete, who earned Academic All-Big Ten in each of the past four seasons. Now the stakes are higher for Benhart this fall because he’ll be protecting former five-star quarterback Dylan Raiola’s blind side. Regardless, he’s a leader, and will anchor the offensive line.

17. Blake Miller, Tackle, Clemson: The Ohio native has a boat load of experience, and is a flat-out leader. Miller has played in a jaw-dropping, 1,949 career snaps. Not to mention he has started 27-straight games at right tackle, and is an animal to deal with off the edge. The six-foot-six, 310-pounder capped off 2023 with third-team, All-ACC honors. Miller also helped the Tigers finish sixth in the conference in rushing yards per game. He’s going to play a big role in keeping quarterback Cade Klubnik healthy this fall, considering Miller will be protecting his blind side. The former four-star prospect will be anchoring the big boys up front again too, especially with Will Putnam off to the NFL.

16. Josh Priebe, Guard, Michigan: The former three-star prospect has been a starter at Northwestern for each of the past three seasons. Priebe was a team captain for the Wildcats, and has 29 starts under his belt. Not to mention he capped off last year’s campaign with third-team, All-Big Ten honors. Priebe is a terror along the interior, and always has good hand placement at the point of attack. Now he’s bringing his experience, leadership and production to Ann Arbor. Coach Sherrone Moore needs Priebe’s services to rebuild the offensive line, considering the Wolverines lost Zak Zinter, Trevor Keegan, and LaDarius Henderson to the NFL Draft. Priebe will open up holes, and maul defenders.

15. Jalen Rivers, Tackle, Miami: The Florida native is a versatile lineman, who excels along the interior and off the edge. Rivers is a natural at playing guard and tackle. He has started 20 games over the past two seasons, including all 13 last year. Not to mention he capped off his campaign with second-team, All-ACC honors. Rivers helped Miami finish second in the ACC, and tied for 19th nationally in fewest sacks allowed. Although the Hurricanes lost center Matt Lee to the NFL, Francis Maulgoa and Anez Cooper are returning starters that’ll join Rivers up front again. Coach Mario Cristobal is a former Miami offensive lineman himself, so he’ll have the unit operating at full speed this fall.

14. Parker Brailsford, Center, Alabama: The former three-star prospect had a breakouts campaign at Washington last season. Brailsford started all 15 games for the Pac-12 Champs, including 13 at center, and two at right guard. He also earned second-team, All-Pac-12 honors for his hard work on the gridiron. Not to mention Brailsford was a semifinalist for the Shaun Alexander Award, which is given to the top freshman in College football. Brailsford helped the Huskies finish second in the conference, and fifth nationally in fewest sacks allowed per game. After following Coach Kalen DeBoer to Alabama, Brailsford is ready to anchor the big boys up front, and set the SEC on fire.

13. Josh Fryar, Tackle, Ohio State: The former three-star prospect has played in 25 games over the past two seasons, and started all 13 at right tackle in 2023. Fryar protected Kyle McCord’s blind side, and was a big reason why Ohio State finished fourth in the Big Ten in fewest sacks allowed. Not to mention the Buckeyes led the conference in total offense because of the protection up front. Fryar even earned first-team, All-Big Ten honors for the way he mauled defenders at the point of attack. With Michael Hall off to the NFL, it’s going to be Fryar and Donovan Jackson anchoring the offensive line this fall. After a year of being a full-time starter, Fryar will be a load to deal with now.

12. Xavier Truss, Guard, Georgia: The Rhode Island native is massive, standing six-foot-seven, and weighing 320 pounds. Truss started his first game in the Peach Bowl victory over Cincinnati, and the rest been history. He started 14 games at left guard in 2022, and 13 last season. The former four-star prospect also earned second-team, All-SEC honors. Truss was a big reason why the Bulldogs finished first in the SEC, and seventh nationally in fewest sacks allowed per game. Georgia also led the conference, and ranked 20th in the FBS in rushing offense. With Amarius Mims and Sedrick Van Pran-Granger off to the NFL, Truss, Dylan Fairchild and Tate Ratledge will keep Georgia’s unit elite.

11. Wyatt Milum, Tackle, West Virginia: The former four-star prospect is like a moveable brick wall on the edge, and he’s tough as nails. Milum is one of the most-experienced offensive linemen in the Big 12, with 33 career starts, including all 13 games last season. He also earned second-team, All-Big 12 honors for his heroics in the trenches. Milum was a big reason why the Mountaineers led the Big 12, and finished third in the FBS in fewest sacks allowed. Now that Zach Frazier is with the Pittsburgh Steelers, it’s going to be Milum’s turn to anchor West Virginia’s big boys up front. With Milum protecting Garrett Greene’s blind side again, the Mountaineers should be effective with the pass.

10. Aireontae Ersery, Tackle, Minnesota: The Kansas City native did an incredible job of anchoring the big boys up front in 2023 after John Michael-Schmitz left for the NFL. Ersery is very experienced in the trenches too, and has started every game at left tackle for the past two years. Last season Ersery helped the Golden Gophers finish third in the Big Ten in fewest sacks allowed. He also was a big reason why Minnesota finished second in the conference, and sixth in the FBS in red zone scores. Not to mention Ersery capped off his campaign with second-team, All-Big Ten honors. The six-foot-six, 325-pounder has 27 career starts, and his experience will be needed in the expanded Big Ten.

9. Luke Kandra, Guard, Cincinnati: The former Louisville Cardinal started every game at right guard for the Bearcats last season, and put together a monster campaign. Kandra even led Cincinnati with 79 knockdowns. Not to mention his 82.1 run-blocking grade was second-best among Power Five guards. Kandra played a jaw-dropping, 895 snaps. The big fella is a natural at opening up huge holes, and even helped the Bearcats finish third in the Big 12, and fifth in the FBS in rushing yards per game. Kandra also earned second-team, All-Big 12 honors, and was a third-team, AP All-American. The hometown kids is going to be handful for defensive linemen to deal with in the trenches again.

8. Tyler Booker, Guard, Alabama: The 20-year old has been a menace up front for the Crimson Tide for the past two seasons. Booker even earned Freshman All-SEC honors in 2022. He started 12 games last season, and helped Alabama finish sixth in the SEC in rushing yards per game. Not to mention Booker capped off his campaign with second-team, All-SEC honors. The former four-star prospect only allowed 2.5 sacks through 676 snaps. Booker stands six-foot-five, and weighs 352 pounds, so he has the ability to block two defenders on any given play. Now that JC Latham is on an NFL roster, Booker is going to be the next man up to anchor the unit, and give defensive linemen fits.

7. Clay Webb, Guard, Jacksonville State: The former five-star prospect spent his first three seasons with the Georgia Bulldogs. Webb has started 19 games over the past two years with the Gamecocks, including 12 in 2023. He helped Jacksonville State average a jaw-dropping, 232.3 rushing yards per game. On top of that, the Gamecocks averaged 30.2 points per game. Not to mention Webb earned second-team, All-CUSA honors, and was a second-team, AP All-American for his heroics. There’s no denying that Webb is reaching elite status anchoring the big boys up front in Rich Rodriguez’ spread offense, and he’s arguably one of the best returning interior linemen for the 2024 season.

6. Tate Ratledge, Guard, Georgia: The former five-star prospect is an SEC Champion, a National Champion and one of the Bulldogs’ most-experienced offensive linemen. Ratledge has 28 starts under his belt at right guard, including 13 last season. He also capped off his campaign with first-team, All-SEC honors, and was a second-team, AP All-American. Ratledge helped Georgia finish first in the SEC, and seventh in the FBS in fewest sacks allowed. The Georgia native was a big reason why the Bulldogs ranked third in the conference, and 20th nationally in rushing yards per game. Although Georgia lost some stud linemen to the NFL, there’s plenty of firepower left because of elite recruiting.

5. Eli Cox, Center, Kentucky: The former three-star prospect is a team captain, who has played in 44 career games, and started 35-straight. Cox is one of the most versatile interior linemen in the SEC, with multiple starts at center and guard. Not to mention he’s a smart athlete, and made the SEC Academic Honor Roll. The Kentucky native helped pave the way for Ray Davis to rush for 1,129 yards and 14 touchdowns last season. Cox was a big reason why the Wildcats tied for second in the conference in fewest sacks allowed. The six-foot-four, 311-pounder ended 2023 with second-team, All-SEC honors. Cox’s experience will be needed as Kentucky breaks in a new quarterback this fall in Beau Allen.

4. Donovan Jackson, Guard, Ohio State: The Texas native has started every game for the Buckeyes for the past two seasons. Jackson is a big brick wall when it comes to protection, and a natural at opening up gaping holes for the running backs. He helped Ohio State finish second in the Big Ten in passing yards per game last season. The former five-star prospect was a big reason why the Buckeyes ranked fourth in the league in fewest sacks allowed. Jackson ended 2023 with first-team, All-Big Ten honors. Not to mention he earned second-team, All-Big Ten honors in 2022. Jackson playing alongside Josh Fryar again this fall will make Ohio State’s offensive line one of the nation’s best.

3. Darius Washington, Tackle, Florida State: The former four-star prospect is one of the most experienced offensive linemen in the ACC. Washington has a jaw-dropping, 37 career starts, including 10 games last season. He’s versatile too, with multiple starts at tackle and center. Washington helped the Seminoles finish fifth in the ACC in fewest sacks allowed. He was a big reason why Jordan Travis threw for 2,756 yards and 20 touchdowns through 11 games. Washington capped off his campaign as a conference champion, and earned first-team, All-ACC honors. Although the offense is depleted from the NFL Draft, Washington is a vital piece for Mike Norvell to build around.

2. Kelvin Banks, Tackle, Texas: The former five-star prospect has started every game of his Longhorn career at left tackle. With 27 starts under his belt over the past two seasons, Banks is going to have the most experience up front for Texas approaching the SEC. He helped the Longhorns finish fourth in the conference, and 24th in the FBS in rushing yards per game. Banks also ended his campaign with first-team, All-Big 12 honors. The six-foot-four, 324-pounder was a second-team, All-Big 12 performer in 2022. Now that Christian Jones is in the NFL, Banks will anchor the big boys up front, and be a vital part in protecting Quinn Ewers’ blind side, who’s arguably the nation’s best returning quarterback.

1. Will Campbell, Tackle, LSU: The Louisiana native is an immovable object, who has 26 starts over the past two years, including every game last season. Campbell was a big reason why the Bayou Bengals were one of four finalists for the Joe Moore Award, and paved the way for their offense to post video game numbers. He played 805 total snaps, didn’t allow a single sack and his protection kept Heisman winner Jayden Daniels healthy. Campbell is a team captain, and he’s on the Academic Honor Roll. The former four-star prospect ended 2023 with first-team, All-SEC honors. Campbell also earned second-team, All-SEC honors as a true freshman, and hasn’t allowed a sack for the past 15 games.

Honorable Mention

Dylan Fairchild, Guard, Georgia: The Georgia native played in all 14 games last season, and started 10 at left guard. He provided great protection, and opened up huge holes. Fairchild playing alongside All-SEC teammates Ratledge and Truss will make the Bulldogs’ offensive line one of the nation’s best.

Tellek Lockette, Guard, Texas State: The Miami native started 20 games over the past two seasons at Louisiana-Monroe, including all 12 at right guard in 2023. The six-foot-three, 335-pounder played in 679 snaps, and received the fourth-highest grade among guards in the Sun Belt in pass blocking.

Ozzy Trapilo, Tackle, Boston College: The former four-star prospect has started 24 games over the past three seasons, including 10 in 2023. Trapilo helped the Eagles finish second in the ACC, and 13th in the FBS in rushing yards per game. He also finished the year with second-team, All-ACC honors.

Nick DeJong, Guard, Iowa: He’s very versatile, with multiple starts at guard and tackle. DeJong has three years worth of starting experience, including seven games last season. The Iowa native also earned third-team, All-Big Ten honors. The Hawkeyes will field a deep, and experienced unit this fall.

Tanner Miller, Center, Michigan State: The former walk-on has played in 40 career games over the past five seasons at Oregon State. Miller is an animal along the interior, with multiple starts at guard and center. The Californian started every game last year, and earned second-team, All-Pac-12 honors.

Logan Jones, Center, Iowa: The former four-star prospect has started every game for the past two years. Jones is a former defensive tackle, who knows how to get physical in the trenches. The Council Bluffs native earned third-team, All-Big Ten honors, and will anchor the unit again.

Michael Gonzalez, Guard, Louisville: The North Carolina native started all 13 games at left guard last season, and ended the year with third-team, All-ACC honors. Gonzalez played in 850-plus snaps, posted 31 knockdowns, and helped the Cardinals finish fifth in the league in rushing yards per game.

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