Texas A&M Aggies: Evan Boehm

Earlier today we ranked all 14 teams based on their offensive line. Now it’s time to look at the top tackles, the top guards and the top centers and determine who will stand out above the rest this fall.

[+] EnlargeCedric Ogbuehi
AP Photo/Aaron M. SprecherTexas A&M expects big things from Cedric Ogbuehi, who is expected to move over to left tackle this fall.
1. OT Cedric Ogbuehi, Sr., Texas A&M: The recent string of left tackles in College Station has been nothing short of remarkable. Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews each were selected in the top 10 of the NFL draft the past two years, and there’s a strong possibility that Ogbuehi will make it 3 for 3. The 6-foot-5, 300-pound senior played right tackle last fall, but he’s expected to move over and replace Matthews at left tackle this season.

2. OT La'el Collins, Sr., LSU: The Tigers had nine players drafted last month, more than any team in college football, but it could’ve easily have been 10 had Collins opted to leave school early. He was projected to go as high as the second round. Instead, he will return for his senior season, try to improve his draft stock and anchor LSU’s offensive line.

3. OT Laremy Tunsil, So., Ole Miss: The Rebels’ 2013 recruiting class was full of five-star prospects, but none played better than Tunsil last season. He appeared in 12 games, making nine starts at left tackle. He allowed just one sack all year. He was a second team All-SEC selection, a member of the SEC All-Freshman team, and the coaches expect him to only get better as a sophomore.

4. C Reese Dismukes, Sr., Auburn: In a league full of standout centers, Dismukes tops the list. He wasn’t the most talented player on Auburn’s offensive line last season, but you can make the argument that he was the most important during the Tigers' run to the BCS title game. He’s started every game in the past three years, and he’s looking to end his career on a high note.

5. OG A.J. Cann, Sr., South Carolina: The 37 career starts made by Dismukes over the past three seasons is impressive, but Cann has him beaten. The South Carolina senior has made 38 straight starts at left guard since taking over as a redshirt freshman in 2011, and after serving as the captain in 2013, he’ll again be counted on for his leadership this fall.

6. C Ryan Kelly, Jr., Alabama: The transition from All-American Barrett Jones to Kelly shouldn't have been a simple one, but the fact that it occurred without a hiccup is a testament to Kelly's ability not just athletically, but intellectually. Injuries, however, caused him to miss four games last season. Now recovered, he has every shot to to win the Rimington Trophy.

7. OT Corey Robinson, Sr., South Carolina: At 6-foot-8 and 348 pounds, it’s hard to miss Robinson when you watch the Gamecocks play. He has the size that makes everybody, NFL scouts included, take notice. The former defensive tackle has found a home at left tackle and will be in charge of protecting Dylan Thompson’s blind side this fall.

8. C Evan Boehm, Jr., Missouri: What can’t Boehm do? As a true freshman, he started 12 games at left guard, earning freshman All-American honors. He moved to center last season and led an offensive line that paved the way for a stellar Tigers rushing attack. The junior could probably play tackle if he wanted, but he’ll stay at center, where he could have a big season.

9. OG Vadal Alexander, OG, LSU: If going against Collins at left tackle weren't intimidating enough, imagine seeing the 6-foot-6, 342-pound Alexander lining up right next to him on every play. The two of them can open a hole big enough for a truck to run through, and it should be plenty big enough for five-star freshman Leonard Fournette.

10. OT Chaz Green, Sr., Florida: The other nine offensive linemen on this list all played last season, but Green is the wild card of the group. He missed the entire season after tearing his labrum during fall camp. He has all the talent -- he started in 10 games in 2012 and was a freshman All-American in 2011 -- but how will he bounce back?

SEC newcomers find fast success

November, 26, 2013
On Saturday night, Missouri will host Texas A&M. If the Tigers beat the Aggies, they'll go to Atlanta to face the winner of Alabama-Auburn in the SEC championship game.

Stop for a second and read that paragraph again. Think about what all the talk was two years ago when both programs decided to leave the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference. Some critics thought it would take years for the programs to become competitive in the league, which is known for producing BCS national champions (it claims the last seven) but in just its second year, Missouri is in position to compete for a championship and Texas A&M has had solid success of its own.

For the No. 5 Tigers (10-1), it's simple. Win and they go to Atlanta. Lose and South Carolina goes, by virtue of head-to-head tiebreaker. Missouri controls its own destiny, as it has since the Tigers vaulted to the top of the SEC East.

"It's all about us," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel told reporters Monday. "That has kind of been the theme we've had this whole year."

Each team has had different fortunes in its first two seasons. Missouri, which some thought might have the quicker success, struggled in its first SEC campaign. The Tigers were riddled with injuries and finished 5-7 (2-6 in league play), and it appeared that the road ahead might be a hard one.

Meanwhile the Aggies experienced smashing success, going 11-2 led by the most captivating player in college football, quarterback Johnny Manziel, who won the Heisman Trophy. Quite a dichotomy for the two SEC newbies.

But something interesting happened this year for the Tigers. Though they have been banged up some, it hasn't been nearly as much as it was a year ago. Missouri breezed through its nonconference schedule, which wasn't exactly taxing, and as the Tigers got into conference play, outsiders wondered how good they really were.

Each week, Missouri added an SEC victory. Then came the qualifiers. They beat then-No. 7 Georgia in Athens, but the Bulldogs were depleted by injuries. They beat then-No. 22 Florida, but the Gators had even more injuries than Georgia.

South Carolina's come-from-behind 27-24 overtime win in Columbia, Mo., made some wonder if the Tigers would slip, but instead, they've responded with three straight wins and put themselves in position to achieve something special.

"We don't like anything given to us," sophomore center Evan Boehm said Monday. "We knew coming into this year nothing was going to be given to us. All the other teams this year had injuries like we had last year. They counted us out, but we are coming out right now and we are focused on what is in front of us and that is Texas A&M."

The chance the Tigers earned is one some believed the Aggies might just have a chance to coming into the 2013 season -- playing for a chance to win their division championship. But an early loss to No. 1 Alabama hindered the Aggies' chances at SEC West title contention, and later a loss to Auburn virtually eliminated it. The No. 21 Aggies (8-3) are now mathematically out of the picture, and out of the picture for a BCS bowl as well, something they still had hopes of sneaking into before Saturday's loss to LSU.

Youth and inexperience on a struggling defense have been the roots of the Aggies' struggles in losses -- and even some wins -- but Saturday everything looked rough. Texas A&M's hope is to close out the season on a winning note while spoiling the Tigers' championship chances. And though Manziel could enter the NFL draft after this season, the foundation appears to be solid for future success in the league for Texas A&M.

Either way, both programs have made waves and a significant impact on the SEC in their first two seasons, much faster than most anticipated. It all illustrates how quickly fortunes can change, even in the league of champions.


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