1. Miami

It was hard to be impressed with Miami's offensive line last year considering they didn't look as good as usual, but then again, even some NFL lines didn't look as good as these hogs. Despite any drop off the Canes' line did do a better job with run-blocking and were easily one of the top offensive lines in college football last year. For the 2003 season, things only get better. Everything starts off with All-American candidate RT Vernon Carey. The 350-pound mauler might very well be switched to guard. The reason for the switch has to do with 6'7'' Eric Winston, now showcasing his athletic ability at left tackle. Carlos Joseph moves from left tackle to right, and Chris Myers, last year's starting guard, will be someone to keep an eye out for. Looking to fill in at center will be Joel Rodriguez who's seen plenty of time as a backup.

Why #1? While few teams can run block at Miami's level, none of them can pass block as well.

2. Auburn

It isn't by coincidence that Auburn simply plugs in running backs and they all succeed. Returning at left tackle will be 6'6'' Mark Pera. Opposite Pera at right tackle is 6'9'' Marcus McNeil who had a sensational freshman year in 2002. The versatile Danny Lindsey along side 350-pound Monrenko Crittenden at the right guard spot leads the middle of the line. Troy Reddick as the only lineman with no starting experience at the other guard spot.

Why #2? Most of us are aware of Auburn's run blocking ability but how many of us knew they gave up fewer sacks than Michigan's OL?

3. Alabama

A big reason for all of Alabama's success last year has to do with the sensational play of their line, which allowed their running backs to run for an outstanding 5.7 yards per carry average. Returning from this unit is All-American Wesley Britt at left tackle with stand out guard Justin Smiley and right tackle Evan Mathis. Filling in for the departed Marico Portis will be 350-pound right guard Dennis Alexander who saw action in every game over the last two seasons. If there is reason for concern anywhere, it is clearly at center where a lack of experience could be an early issue. Nevertheless, look for Alabama to rival Auburn for best OL in the SEC.

Why #3? With a new offensive scheme, sack totals should decrease while still being as dominant as ever on the ground. Their only weakness could be depth in the interior.

4. Oklahoma

Big improvements have been made since the departure of Mark Magino. All credit should go to coach Kevin Wilson. What was seen as a major weakness as early as 2001 is now going to be the offense's biggest 2003 strength. Returning starters Jammal Brown and Wes Simms make up the Big 12's best pair of bookend tackles, and Vince Carter is one of the nations most promising at center. Guards Davin Joseph and Kelvin Chaisson look to become qualified full time starters.

Why #4? The Sooners should have no problems opening lanes up for Kejuan Jones, but will keeping Jason White's jersey be a problem? Probably only against the better defensive lines they face.

5. Southern Cal

This time last year no one would have predicted it, but USC will finally field a quality Offensive Line. The men from Troy (suburb of L.A.) hope their monumental improvement from September to January will continue. It should with four returning starters. At the tackle spots will be the damaging duo of All-Conference tackle Jacob Rogers and freshman All American Winston Justice. At center will be the versatile Norm Katnik with Lenny Vandermade at left guard opposite freshman Fred Matua, their best option at right guard.

Why #5? While this unit may not look as good as it is early on due to some inexperience at quarterback and running back; it still should pick up where it left off vs. Iowa


Just Missed: Boston College

Year after year, Boston College produces 1000-yard rushers and NFL caliber lineman. Last year was no exception as the Eagles gave up and impressively low total of 14 sacks while allowing 5'9'' scat back Derrick Knight to rush for 1400+ yards. Despite losing 2 starters, the Eagles return one of the countries best guards in Chris Snee and two solid starters in right guard Augie Hoffmann and left tackle Leo Bell. Sophomore Pat Ross will fill in nicely at center, as Keith Leavitt moves back to right tackle after seeing some action on the defensive line.

Could be there: Michigan

While the individual talent on the Michigan line is top notch, their performance as a whole must improve. What was once a staple in the Michigan offense, their dominating ground attack, has of late been rather nonexistent. With three excellent starters returning from last year's line, look for an improvement on a mediocre 3.8 yards per rushing attempt. Making up the returning starters are All-Big Ten and All-American candidates Tony Pape at right tackle and David Baas coming back at left guard. At center, David Pearson returns for his senior year along with sophomores Matt Lentz at left guard, and Adam Stenavich at left tackle