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Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Best available: Interior offensive linemen

By Craig Haubert

The spotlight rarely shines on the big guys in the heart of the offensive trenches, but guards and centers play a key role in the success of an offense. The 2014 class offers a talentedand fairly deep group of interior offensive linemen and the most recent release of the updated ESPN 300 saw several move up in the rankings.

Offensive guard prospects like USC commit Toa Lobendahn and Florida State commit Corey Martinez were among those who made sizeable moves up in the latest rankings release. Center and Alabama commit J.C. Hassenauer moved into the 300.

Four of the top five OG prospects are already off the board, as well as nine of the top 10 centers. But if your team is still looking for talent, here are five to keep an eye on:

OG Damien Mama
(Saint John Bosco/Bellflower, Calif.) | Highlights Video | List of schools considering
6-4, 370 pounds | ESPN 300 rank: 56 | OG rank: 3 | Grade: 84 | Stars: 4

Mama is a mammoth presence tipping the scales at around 370, but he is far more than just a big body in the trenches. Mama is surprisingly nimble on his feet for his size and can be very effective as a run and pass blocker. In the run game he can be a road-grader and in pass protection he can set quickly and deliver a powerful initial punch that can stun rushers. The ESPN 300 prospect's combination of size, strength and agility could allow him to be outstanding guard at the next level.

OG Braden Smith
(Olathe South/Olathe, Kan.) | Highlights Video | List of schools considering
6-6, 285 pounds | ESPN 300 rank: 121 | OG rank: 7 | Grade: 83 | Stars: 4

Smith is a physically impressive and imposing prospect. With excellent height and a muscular build, he’s the type of guy you want getting off the bus first. And when it comes time to strap on the helmet and play, the big man can lead the way as well. A strong, physical and aggressive player in the trenches, Smith can push around and at times punish defenders. Coming from a run-oriented offense he’ll need some further development in pass protection, but the four-star has the ability to be a tough, tenacious and very productive blocker in the trenches.

C Josh Casher
(Saint Paul's/Mobile, Ala.) | List of schools considering
6-1, 290 pounds | ESPN 300 rank: 183 | C rank: 1 | Grade: 83 | Stars: 4

Until recently, Casher was among the committed, but the one-time Auburn verbal has reopened his recruitment. Already a part of the ESPN 300, Casher lacks ideal height but is still a very talented prospect. A tough and strong player, he makes his size work for him by often winning the battle of leverage. He gets the job done as a run blocker and in pass protection. Casher could fit as an OG at the next level, but we see nice upside if developed as a center.

OG Donell Stanley
(Latta/Latta, S.C.) | Highlights Video | List of schools considering
6-4, 312 pounds | ESPN 300 rank: 197 | OG rank: 12 | Grade: 83 | Stars: 4

Of this group, Stanley needs the most development when he gets to the next level, but while a bit raw, he demonstrates the natural tools to grow into a very good OG at the next level. He needs to keep improving technically but he is big and strong and has demonstrated that he can overpower defenders.

OG Jordan Sims
(Homewood/Birmingham, Ala.) | Highlights Video | List of schools considering
6-4, 334 pounds | ESPN 300 rank: 257 | OG rank: 15 | Grade: 82 | Stars: 4

Sims is like a mobile home in cleats as he’s big and looks comfortable on the move. Sims checks in well over 300 pounds, but he demonstrates he can operate with very good quickness and balance. We would like to see a little more consistency from the talented OL, but he’s a nimble big man who can impress with his ability to block on his feet in space.