Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Offensive lines stronger in Atlantic
By ESPN.com staff
For the past few years, the Atlantic Division has been the weaker of the two divisions and nobody has been afraid to say it.
The same is expected this fall, but there's one area where the teams in the Atlantic Division appear to be stronger, and that's on the offensive line.
Here's a look at the top three contenders in each division and how their lines look after this spring:
Florida State: All five starters return, and they have combined for 142 career starts -- the most of any line in the ACC. Guard Rodney Hudson was an All-America selection last year, and he'll be back along with center Ryan McMahon, guard David Spurlock, and tackles Andrew Datko and Zebrie Sanders.
Clemson: Four starters return to a group that got progressively better last year and should finally be reaching its peak. Tackle Chris Hairston was a second-team all-conference selection last year, and he'll be joined by tackle Landon Walker, guard Antoine McClain and center Dalton Freeman.
Boston College: The Eagles return four starters, including Anthony Castonzo, an Outland Trophy candidate who has made 41 career starts, guard Thomas Claiborne, tackle Rich Lapham and guard Nathan Richman. That's three seniors and a junior, all of whom have started at least 25 career games. This group should get the Eagles back to their rich tradition of powerful offensive lines.
Virginia Tech: Left tackle is a position of concern. The Hokies turned to sophomore Nick Becton this spring and he did well in place of Ed Wang. Virginia Tech also has to replace Sergio Render, who had 52 career starts.
Miami: The Canes have to replace three starters up front, and center was one of the biggest concerns for coach Randy Shannon this spring. Tyler Horn took over for A.J. Trump there and brings some experience. Orlando Franklin moved to left tackle and will be the leader of the group.
Georgia Tech: The Jackets have to replace three starters, including the transfer of Joseph Gilbert. New faces are working their way into the rotation, and the second team was composed entirely of freshmen in the spring game.