Predicting The All-ACC Team: Offensive Line

This is the fifth in a series on the 2011 All-ACC team. First, we profiled the players returning from the 2010 All-ACC team. Then we discussed quarterbacks, running backsreceivers and tight ends.

Today we'll discuss the big uglies.  Offensive linemen don't catch passes, break tackles or score touchdowns.  They just make it all happen. 

And while I've discussed how some positions are weaker this year in the ACC, offensive line is not in that group.  

Let's start with the returning All-Conference players.  Virginia Tech's Blake DeChristopher is the only returning tackle.  At guard are VT's Jaymes Brooks, Miami's Brandon Washington, UNC's Jonathan Cooper, and Georgia Tech's Omeregie Uzzi.

With 15 total spots (first, second, and honorable mention), that means there will be at least ten new members of the 2011 All-ACC offensive line.  

And the real way to get on the team is reputation.  It's not like most sportswriters watch offensive linemen or have any clue what they are watching along the line.  And unfortunately, they elect the team and not the coaches.

Let's tackle the Tackle position first. 

The obvious pick to join DeChristopher is Florida State's Andrew Datko.  Datko is the league's best pass protector.  All he needs to do is stay healthy.

The second team selections are a bit tougher.  Landon Walker of Clemson is a likely choice as he has 35 career starts at right tackle for the Tigers.

North Carolina's James Hurst had a good year as a true freshman and has bulked up quite a bit.  He's a talented player and will probably land on the team.

Also battling for a spot will be Florida State's Zebrie Sanders.  Writers typically don't elect two tackles from the same team, but Sanders is a good college lineman with a lot of experience.   

I wonder if Wake's Dennis Godfrey or Doug Weaver will get a look.  I don't think much of them, but they are known commodities.  

Then there are a few young guys who are the future of the position, like N.C. State's Robert Crisp and Miami's Malcolme Bunche and Seantrel Henderson who will be starting as youngsters.  

Prediction
1st Team: DeChristopher and Datko
2nd Team: Walker and Hurst
3rd Team: Sanders and Godfrey

Now onto the guard position.  With four players returning, it will take some serious work for a newcomer to make the team.

If Florida State's David Spurlock is healthy for all 14 games he could definitely make the team.  But the concussion issues are serious and frequently reoccur.

Clemson's Antoine McClain and Virginia's Austin Pasztor are both quality offensive linemen and fairly well known for a guard.  

Georgia Tech's Will Jackson is also a decent guard, but as with the tackle position, I seriously doubt a team will land two guards on the roster.  

Can a player on a bad team like Wake's Joe Looney make it?  I'm skeptical.

Prediction:
1st Team: Washington & Cooper
2nd Team: Uzzi & Brooks
3rd Team: Pastor & McClain

The center position is going to be very interesting.  

Seven teams return their centers, and none of them made an All-Conference team last season.

The top returning center is probably Clemson's Dalton Freeman, but UNC's Cam Holland is also on his heels.

In my mind the real battle will be for the third spot.  

Will N.C. State's increased focus on the run land Cam Wentz a spot on the team?  Will Montel Harris' chase of the all-time ACC record be a launching pad for Mark Spinney's campaign for Boston College?  Will Tyler Horn of Miami hold on to the job and get enough notoriety on a loaded line?  Or will FSU's JUCO transfer Jacob Fahrenkrug get enough recognition in his first year to make the team as the center from the ACC favorite?

Prediction:
1st Team: Freeman
2nd Team: Holland
3rd Team: Wentz

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