Protecting quarterback Baker Mayfield will be crucial to Oklahoma’s success this year. According to Athlon Sports, that won’t be a problem.
Athlon Sports ranked the Sooners first among the top 50 offensive lines heading into the 2017 season. In a group that returns all five starters, Orlando Brown, 2016’s Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year, is the leader at left tackle. Athlon views right tackle Bobby Evans and left guard Ben Powers as “rising stars.” Right guard Dru Samia also returns, and center Erick Wren is the only senior of the bunch, meaning the Sooners could have a power O-line in 2018, as well, depending on who enters the NFL draft.
Jonathan Alvarez, a senior, and Cody Ford, a redshirt sophomore, will provide depth as the Sooners seek their third straight Big 12 title. Not only will the group be responsible for protecting Mayfield, a Heisman candidate and All-Big 12 first-team member in 2016, but also for helping establish a running game after the loss of Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon to the NFL.
Alabama, Clemson, Auburn and Iowa round out the top 5. Kansas State, which returns three starters, is ranked No. 10, while Texas (No. 11), TCU (No. 20), Oklahoma State (No. 36) were other Big 12 schools to make Athlon’s top 50.
The Oklahoma offensive line gets its first chance to prove worthy of its ranking Sept. 2 against Texas-El Paso.