Brian Allen — Michigan State Spartans — The versatile Allen is noteworthy at guard or center, but we’ll keep him where he finished 2016 for now. A slide to center from the dominant high school wrestler (who returns as the Big Ten’s best guard of an awesome crop) could free up a spot on this list. He’s a nasty, consistent presence on the MSU line, easily the leader of the group, and should graduate after this season as an NFL prospect with a varied skill-set.
Tyler Bowling — Tulsa Golden Hurricane — Another Tulsa lineman for the lists, the massive 6-6 325-pound Oklahoma prep product is a road-grading force on the interior for the Hurricane, and again, part of a solid overall line. He’s a brute, with size and strength to wall off defenders in the spread attack. Look for his stock to rise after another dominant performance by the Tulsa run game this season.
Tyrone Crowder — Clemson Tigers — Speaking of road-graders, there is the 6-2 340 POUND Crowder who clears out area codes on the right side of the Tiger line. He’s not just huge, he’s also powerful thanks to a quick get-off for a man of his girth. He was a key to Wayne Gallman’s bread-and-butter run, and should allow future superstar Tavean Feaster to feast at the same plate. A future NFL talent on his run blocking prowess alone.
Will Hernandez — UTEP Miners — The massive 6-3 340 pounder is a mammoth man who can move, and was instrumental in the explosive 2016 of running back Aaron Jones. He is, per some experts, the best lineman returning in football, and we find that hard to argue as we picked him to be a star last year for the Miners. This season he will solidify the hype, and once again be an integral part of whatever comes from a now otherwise hapless UTEP offense (sorry Metz).
Quentin Nelson — Notre Dame Fighting Irish — As one FAM staffer puts it, “Quentin Nelson is a bad man.” We once again find this very hard to refute, as he’s the best of a very talented Irish line returning, and will be a top NFL guard a la Zach Martin (yes, we know, that’s lofty). He’s a giant and menacing blocker at 6-5 325, bigger than Martin, with room to get NFL huge and become a true legend in his own right. Like all the Irish linemen, he’s terrifically coached, and we foresee him making a claim as one of the best overall lineman in the country. He also gave us this…
Cody O’Connell — Washington State Cougars — As far as best guards, O’Connell says “Sup Brah” from PAC 12 territory as their best representative and arguably the country’s best pass blocking guard. Yet he’s no slouch when the Cougars do sometimes, maybe, perhaps, run; and is just a great, well-rounded blocker. Oh yeah, he’s also a enormous individual at 6-7 and then some, 340 pounds and then some… He’s got tackle size, but serves best left inside where he is a stalwart and All-American type.
Ross Pierschbacher — Alabama Crimson Tide — We get to talking about best linemen, and then you are like, “Oh, yes, that Bammer fella.” In this case he hails from the Hawkeye state, but nonetheless entered Tuscaloosa with all the usual Tide fan-fare. He was in good opinion the top prep guard prospect in the country, and has yet to disappoint against the best competition. He returns with the rest of a LOADED Tide offense to stake claim as the country’s best team… and finish as such ideally.
Braden Smith — Auburn Tigers — For once lately you can mention Alabama football and Auburn football in the same breath, and not be viewed as a moron. Smith is deservedly in the same stratosphere as his rivals in terms of talent, and the big 6-5 300-pounder is a mobile and effective lineman in the Tiger rushing attack. He’s an explosive player — a former shot put and discuss champ — and he tosses defenders with some effectiveness as well. He’s an NFL-level athlete, and could become a superstar.
Viane Talamaivao — USC Trojans — A four-year starter-to-be, the former prep All-American has continued that trend of accolades as a Freshman All-FAMerican, Sophomore All-FAMerican, and All-PAC 12 selection. The Cali native comes in as the anchor of the line, and should team with Nico Falah and (hopefully) classmate Toa Lobendahn in what could be one of the more formidable interiors in the country. Talamaivao in his own right however is a beast on the inside and possesses exceptional leverage and strength.
Patrick Vahe — Texas Longhorns — One of several awesome linemen for the Longhorns that will provide protection for whoever holds the football at the time. In the run game they are proven effective, and Vahe’s 6-3 320 pounds of hoss on the inside is a large reason why they are so good. He’s a bully in the trenches, exploding into defenders and creating cavernous holes. He’s nimble on the pull, and ill-mannered on impact with those he seeks. One of our favorite Horns to watch out of a still talented lot.
Snubs — Beau Benzschawel, Wisconsin Badgers; Kyle Bosch, West Virginia Mountaineers; Ben Bredeson, Michigan Wolverines; Parker Braun, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets; O’Shea Dugas, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs; Tanner Farmer, Nebraska Cornhuskers; Colby Gossett, Appalachian State Mountaineers; Nate Herbig, Stanford Cardinal; Michael Jordan, Ohio State Buckeyes; Connor McGovern, Penn State Nittany Lions; Wyatt Teller, Virginia Tech Hokies; Sean Welsh, Iowa Hawkeyes