With spring practice in the books, we’re updating our Big 12 position rankings.
Offensive line is up next.
1. Oklahoma (previous ranking: 1): Eight returnees with starting experience from 2016 provide the Sooners with the quality and depth to rank this line among the best nationally. Left tackle Orlando Brown was the league’s best lineman last year, according to Big 12 coaches, and Bobby Evans complemented him well on the opposite side. Cody Ford returns from a broken leg to challenge Ben Powers at left guard. Erick Wren, freshman Creed Humphrey, Dru Samia and Jonathan Alvarez will fight for the other two spots.
2. Kansas State (2): All-Big 12 junior Dalton Risner, who moved from center to right tackle last year, makes a good case as the league’s most versatile lineman. He and fellow anchor, Reid Najvar at center, missed the spring game with injuries. Scott Frantz also returns as a sophomore at left tackle. With Abdul Beecham and Tyler Mitchell at the guard spots, the Wildcats are solid up front and set again to thrive within a ball-control offensive system.
3. Texas (4): The Longhorns are loaded with big bodies and talent, but only the top unit is proven -- and it struggled at times last year to keep its quarterback upright. Still, there’s a lot to like about a group that features a left side of Connor Williams and Patrick Vahe, with Zach Shackelford at center. Jake McMillon and Tristan Nickelson fill out the line, as Texas’ touted signees from a year ago start to make their way into the second unit.
4. TCU (3): With the most experienced line in the conference and perhaps the best at keeping its quarterback protected, the Horned Frogs return six seniors among the two-deep. In a surprising spring development, TCU demoted senior center Austin Schlottmann to second team in favor of Patrick Morris. Both may still start in September on the interior, with left tackle Joseph Noteboom -- a 26-game starter -- as another anchor.
5. Oklahoma State (7): Depth is lacking, but the Cowboys solidified their starting unit with the addition of graduate transfer Aaron Cochran from Cal. He will replace Victor Salako and mesh with returning starters Marcus Keyes at left guard, center Brad Lundblade, right guard Larry Williams and Zachary Crabtree at right tackle. If these guys stay healthy, Oklahoma State’s line could rank next fall in the top three to four of the Big 12.
6. West Virginia (5): Junior Yodny Cajuste, returning from a knee injury, and Colton McKivitz, who helped fill Cajuste’s spot last year as a freshman, give the Mountaineers a strong pair at tackle. Guard Kyle Bosch moved this spring from the right to the left side, and Matt Jones began his bid to fill the large shoes of former center Tyler Orlosky. Grant Lingafelter looks like the starter at right guard. WVU must absorb the March departure of tackle Marcell Lazard.
7. Baylor (6): The February decision of tackle Dom Desouza to give up football delivered a blow to the Bears up front. He started 13 games last year and was expected to lead this group along with returning starters Patrick Lawrence, Blake Blackmar and Ishmael Wilson. Tanner Thrift and Mo Porter join the top unit, on which Baylor figures to rely heavily in the first year of Matt Rhule’s physical offensive system.
8. Kansas (8): The Jayhawks continue to climb the ladder, albeit slowly, in coach David Beaty’s third season. Hakeem Adeniji emerged as a solid Big 12 lineman last season as a freshman and returns to start at left tackle. Charles Baldwin moved into a starting spot immediately this spring after transferring from Alabama last summer. Senior Jayson Rhodes, sophomore Mesa Ribordy and junior Larry Hughes fill out the middle.
9. Texas Tech (9): Questions abound for the Red Raiders, who lost Baylen Brown to graduation and demoted sixth-year senior Tony Morales this spring. True freshman Jack Anderson appears to be in line to start at right tackle, and Tech coaches were pleased with the transition from guard to center of Paul Stawarz. Travis Bruffy and Terence Steele are the top tackles. Left guard Madison Akamnonu missed the first half of spring with back tightness.
10. Iowa State (10): Center Julian Good-Jones is the only starter back from last year, as the Cyclones relied on four seniors. With proven talent elsewhere on offense, the development of Bryce Meeker at left tackle and guards Robby Garcia and Oge Udeogu is key. Jake Campos returns from injury to play right tackle, and graduate transfer David Dawson is set to join the Cyclones from Michigan this summer.