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Offering insight into the Big 12 O-lines

8/17/2011

The Rimington Trophy, given annually to college football's top center, is starting up its own blog soon, and asked yours truly for a little insight into the Big 12 offensive lines.

Here's what I had to say:

What is the overall strength of the offensive lines in the Big 12?

It's good, but not great. Oklahoma State is the league's best, and Baylor is really underrated on a national scale. I've got the Bears as the second best line in the league, closely followed by Texas A&M and Missouri, who both return four starters from good lines in 2010.

Which team in the Big 12 you think will be most impacted by the loss of last year’s senior center?

Probably Missouri. They look like they're going to put Travis Ruth, an experienced junior, in Tim Barnes' slot, but Barnes was a three-year starter and an All-Big 12 talent. His knowledge and ability to adapt is going to be tough to replace. (Post-script: That loss could be even more difficult to rebound from after losing All-Big 12 left tackle Elvis Fisher for the season with a torn patellar tendon.)

Are there any up and coming first year centers you think may exceed expectations?

It's a little early. We haven't heard a lot of these guys get a ton of credit from the coaching staffs, so we'll see.

What team in the Big 12 poses the biggest defensive threat to an offensive line?

Missouri, definitely. Their defensive line is loaded. It's deep and has the most top-end talent. If newly eligible Sheldon Richardson is the real deal, too? Offensive lines better look out.

Who do you think will emerge as the best center in the conference?

I think it'll be a close race between Ben Habern at Oklahoma, Grant Garner at Oklahoma State and Philip Blake at Baylor.