With spring ball having come and gone, we'll be updating our Big 12 position group rankings over the next two weeks.
We continue this series with the offensive line:
1. Baylor (pre-spring rank: 1): There's no reason for Baylor to drop out of the top spot after spring drills despite losing four starters off last season's offensive front. Center Kyle Fuller, the quarterback of the line, returns as one of the Big 12's top linemen and the Bears have history on their side after finishing first or second in the conference in rushing during each of the past five seasons. Tackles Patrick Lawrence and Dom Desouza along with guards Rami Hammad and Blake Blackmar emerged from spring as starters but the competition to play should linger into the preseason with a star-studded recruiting class set to arrive in the summer.
2. West Virginia (2): The Mountaineers have one of the Big 12's most experienced returning offensive lines. Five players have multiple starts, including three players -- Kyle Bosch, Tyler Orlosky and Adam Pankey -- who played more than 750 snaps. Orlosky is the anchor and foundation of the unit with Bosch and Pankey as solid options at guard. Yodny Cajuste has huge upside at tackle and Marcell Lazard was good when called upon with Tony Matteo giving the Mountaineers six experienced linemen to build around. Frankly, West Virginia is more 1B than solid No. 2 behind Baylor.
3. TCU (3): Tackles Joseph Noteboom and Aviante Collins provide a solid foundation on the outside with Austin Schlottman sliding into the center spot in Joey Hunt's place after a solid late-season showing a year ago. Guards Patrick Morris and Matt Pryor round out the post-spring staring five along the offensive front. The Horned Frogs should be solid up front with all five projected starters having started games during TCU's 11-win season in 2015.
4. Texas (4): The Longhorns have a pair of top-notch sophomores to build around in tackle Connor Williams and guard Patrick Vahe. Williams could end up as the Big 12's top tackle this season while Vahe had a solid debut season which he can build upon. Center Zach Shackelford, an early enrollee, made an immediate impression and looks poised to follow the footsteps of Williams and Vahe as a true freshman starter. Brandon Hodges and Kent Perkins round out the projected starting five. Don't be surprised if this unit rises up the ranking.
5. Oklahoma (5): Another team that could sprint up the list, it was a good spring for Oklahoma. Jonathan Alvarez made a smooth transition from guard to center and looks ready to fill the shoes of All-Big 12 center Ty Darlington. Sophomore tackles Orlando Brown and Dru Samia should be better with experience after combining to start 21 games as freshmen. Cody Ford built upon a solid redshirt season to seize a starting guard spot with Ben Powers looking ready to start at the other guard slot. It's a relatively young unit that can grow together and could end up being better than last year's group, which helped the Sooners earn a College Football Playoff berth.
6. Oklahoma State (6): The Cowboys return all five starters but that doesn't mean all five can be sure they'll be a big part of the offensive front in the fall. Coach Mike Gundy is convinced the unit, which struggled in 2015, will be better, especially with the addition of junior college signees Marcus Keyes and Larry Williams. Tackle Zach Crabtree is the best returning starter and a leader on the unit. The offensive line could be the key to Oklahoma State's season but there was not clear improvement on display during the spring game.
7. Kansas State (7): Sophomore center Dalton Risner is a terrific anchor to build around at center but the Wildcats lost plenty off last year's offensive front. Yet Bill Snyder's squad tends to have a pretty solid offensive line, making it easy to imagine a Wildcats rise into the top half of these rankings. Keep an eye on redshirt freshman left tackle Scott Frantz, who started the spring game and could step into Cody Whitehair's starting spot.
8. Texas Tech (8): It's a complete rebuild for the Red Raiders after having multiple years to build around Le'Raven Clark at left tackle. Baylen Brown has shifted over to left tackle from guard, while Madison Akamnonu and Terence Steele emerged from spring ball as redshirt freshmen in the starting lineup. Tony Morales, who had six starts at right guard in 2015, is taking over at center. It's a rebuilt unit that will be counted on to keep Patrick Mahomes healthy.
9. Iowa State (9): Tackle Jake Campos, the Cyclones' most experienced starter, missed the spring but should return to be a terrific anchor to build around. The emergence of Julian Good-Jones at center was good news but new coach Matt Campbell remains hesitant to cement anyone into a starting spot as he aims to build his first offensive front. And Sean Foster, the Cyclones' top-rated signee, arrives to amp up the competition in the summer.
10. Kansas (10): Center Joe Gibson, who started games during his sophomore and freshmen seasons, is probably the most experienced Jayhawk lineman, while senior Jordan Shelley-Smith has started games at left and right tackle during his career. Clyde McCauley III, who played some tight end as a true freshman, is an intriguing prospect who could start at tackle. Kansas has a long way to go to move up this list but the Jayhawks do have some young linemen like McCauley III who are worth keeping an eye on.