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2011 - In the Trenches

Scott Haynes, College Football Senior Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - They aren't the ones you see on the highlight reels on Saturdays, but they are oftentimes responsible for making those plays possible. The job of an offensive lineman is anything but glamorous, but their dominance on the frontline makes all the difference in the world.

Here are the top offensive linemen heading into the 2011 FBS college football season.

OFFENSIVE TACKLES:

MATT KALIL - USC may be out of the postseason picture for the second straight season, but that won't stop a Trojan from starting the season atop this list. Kalil has all the makings of a franchise left tackle in the NFL, with superior size (6-7, 300) and athleticism. Brother of Carolina Panther Ryan Kalil, the younger sibling, started all 13 games as a sophomore in 2010. The experience gained should help him dominate in 2012 and put him on the shortlist of elite pass protectors.

JONATHAN MARTIN - Is charged with protecting the hottest commodity in the college ranks, as the anchor along Andrew Luck's offensive line at Stanford. The 6-6, 305-pound Martin started 11 games at left tackle as a redshirt freshman in 2009. Last season, he earned All-Pac-10 First-Team honors as a sophomore, starting all 13 games.

Matt Kalil has all the makings of a franchise left tackle in the NFL.
LEVY ADCOCK - Came out of nowhere in 2010 and became one of the Big 12's top offensive linemen, earning All-Conference First-Team honors for Oklahoma State. The 6-5, 320-pound junior has just scratched the surface of his enormous talent. OSU will be one of the top offensive teams in the nation once again in 2012 and Adcock will certainly aid the team in that regard.

RILEY REIFF - An athletic big man on the outside for Iowa, the 6-6, 300-pound Riff earned All-Big Ten Second-Team honors for the Hawkeyes in 2010. Plenty of experience over the last two seasons, starting 24 of the 26 games played, including all 13 at left tackle in 2010.

NATE POTTER - Has had a hugely successful career at Boise State and is an anchor for the Broncos up front. He has done a superb job protecting Kellen Moore and has dominated at times on the outside, earning All-WAC First-Team honors in 2009 and 2010. The 6-6, 300-punder is viewed more as an offensive guard at the next level, but his production at the tackle position in college has not gone unnoticed.

Honorable Mention: D.J. Fluker, (Alabama), Andrew Datko (Florida State), Mike Adams (Ohio State), Matt Reynolds (BYU), Ricky Wagner (Wisconsin).

OFFENSIVE GUARDS:

KELECHI OSEMELE - Osemele has been a dominant physical presence for the Cyclones. The 6-6, 350-pound behemoth earned All-American status in 2010, as well as being tabbed an All-Big 12 First-Team honoree. Extremely powerful run blocker, he will make the move to guard at the next level to maximize his potential.

CORDY GLENN - An All-SEC Third-Team member in 2010, picking up All-American accolades as well. The 6-5, 350-pound Glenn has played both guard and tackle at Georgia over the course of his career, but has found a home inside, starting his last 21 games at left guard. A huge, road-grader Glenn has the potential to be one of the nation's best interior linemen in 2011.

DAVID DeCASTRO - Another veteran along the Stanford offensive line, with 26 starts over the last two seasons. Picked up All-Pac-10 First-Team honors in 2010. The 6-5, 310-pounder is an athletic big with the ability to dominate in small space. Part of an offensive front that has allowed just 13 sacks over the last two seasons.

KEVIN ZEITLER - A mainstay along the Wisconsin offensive line for the last two seasons, but has taken a backseat in terms of notoriety, with Gabe Carimi garnering most of the attention nationally. With Carimi having moved on to the NFL, it is Zeitler's time to shine. A hard worker on the field and in the weight room, Zeitler's stock could rise significantly in 2011, as the Badgers are poised to make a run at the Big Ten and beyond.

RYAN MILLER - A huge figure at 6-8, 310 pounds, Miller has been an anchor along Colorado's offensive front for the last two years, after missing most of the 2008 season due to injury. Durability is not a question though, as he has played every single games since then, earning All-Big 12 Honorable Mention in 2010.

Honorable Mention: Stephen Good (Oklahoma), Lucas Nix (Pittsburgh), Jaymes Brooks (Virginia Tech), Kevious Watkins (South Carolina), Antoine McClain (Clemson).

CENTERS:

MICHAEL BREWSTER - Won the job at center for the Buckeyes as a freshman and has never relinquished it. The 6-5, 295-pound veteran will have to really be a rock up front for Ohio State in 2011, with everything that has gone on in Columbus of late. Early season suspensions to key personnel will make the job that much more difficult, but Brewster is as experienced a pivot as they come.

BEN JONES - A Second-Team All-SEC selection that has been productive since his arrival at Georgia, including 10 starts at center as a freshman in 2008. The 6-3, 300-pound Jones has started 25 of the 26 games for Georgia over the last two seasons and has dominated in the middle at times.

WILLIAM VLACHOS - Another All-SEC Second-Team member, entering the 2011 campaign off back-to-back dominant seasons for Alabama. He is a bit undersized at 6-1, 290 pounds, but understands the position and is a terrific athlete. Vlachos has started 27 straight games for the Crimson Tide and is a serious candidate for the Rimington Trophy in 2011.

PHILIP BLAKE - A native Canadian and former juco transfer, Blake played right tackle for Baylor in 2009 before moving to center in 2010 and earning All-Big 12 Honorable Mention. The 6-2, 315-pounder made a smooth transition to the middle of the line last year, starting all 13 games at center for the Bears.

DAVID MOLK - This Wolverine returned from an injury-plagued 2009 season to start every games for Michigan in 2010, earning All-Big Ten First (coaches) and Second (media) Team honors. Molk was a finalist for the Rimington Trophy last year and is one of the more experienced pivots in the country, having started all 12 games his freshman year (2008).

Honorable Mention: Seth Oxner (Arkansas), Moe Petrus (UConn), Quinton Saulsberry (Mississippi State), Garth Gerhart (Arizona State), Grant Garner (Oklahoma State).

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Scott Haynes at shaynes@sportsnetwork.com.

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