Ah, the "big uglies". The guys who do battle in the trenches are ultimately the ones who end up being the biggest determining factor in a team's success or demise. It doesn't matter how good your quarterback, running back, or receivers are if there's no time to execute a play. Here's our rankings of the most unheralded players on a football team.
1. Baylor - This is one area of advantage that the Bears have over TCU heading into the season...but it isn't a huge advantage. Baylor returns all five starters from last season's conference championship squad and four of them are seniors. In all the Bears have 92 collective starts along the line along with an All-American in left tackle Spencer Drango.
2. TCU - Baylor's edge is slim because the Frogs have four returning starters including center Joey Hunt who has been a three-year starter and an all-conference selection. TCU will have 72 career starts returning along the line.
3. Kansas State - The rebuilding project in Manhattan starts up from where four of five starters from 2014 are back. The Wildcats have a combined 82 starts along their offensive line but you'll want to keep an eye on the center position where redshirt freshman Dalton Risner looks to be the new starter.
4. Texas Tech - Three seniors and a junior return to the Red Raiders offensive line but Tech could be starting a freshman at right tackle. Left tackle Le'Raven Clark will be making bank as an NLF draft pick next spring.
5. Iowa State - Everything starts at center for the Cyclones where Jamison Lalk is starting his senior campaign. Joining him as returning starters are left tackle Jake Campos and right guard Daniel Burton. Both have struggled with injuries in the past and Iowa State desperately needs them both to remain healthy in 2015. At 6-6/330, Burton is a big, big man.
6. West Virginia - The Mountaineers are looking to 6-4/318 Marquis Lucas to anchor their line in 2015. He's joined by center Tyler Orlosky and left guard Adam Pankey as returning starters.
7. Oklahoma State - Not only is junior Michael Wilson a returning starter, he started in four of the five offensive line positions in 2014. He's joined by junior Paul Lewis at center and sophomore Zachary Crabtree at right tackle as O-State's three returning starters. The Cowboys were also able to land junior Victor Salako from UAB after the Blazers shut down their program.
8. Texas - The good news for the Longhorns is that they return four starters from last year. The bad news is that Texas was 98th nationally in running and 88th in passing which means there's significant room for improvement. Senior Sedrick Flowers is the most experienced lineman and unquestioned leader.
9. Oklahoma - This is OU's lowest ranking in the offensive positions and it isn't without cause. Only center Ty Darlington and right guard Nila Kasitati return as starters and although the three newbies have a combined 36 game appearances, 27 of those belong to senior right tackle Derek Farniok.
10. Kansas - The Jayhawks are returning two starters on the offensive line and one of them is a former walk-on. Good times!