We're continuing our look at which schools have recruited the best at each position with the offensive line today.
There has been a lot of talk about the USC hype machine this off-season and for every person who is bullish about their chances, there seems to be another person who questions that they will be able to overcome the curse of "7 win Steve". (For the record, they won 9 games last season and if they win that many or more this season, everyone should have to officially retire from calling him "7 win Steve".)
If you're one of those people who believe games are won and lost up front, though, then you may want to put your money on the Trojans because they have recruited extremely well along the offensive line despite their scholarship issues. We'll count them all down to see which school has signed the most blue chips (4 or 5 star rankings according to the 247Sports composite rankings) from most to least since 2011.
1. USC 12
The two 2011 blue chips are now gone (Cyrus Hobbi retired due to injury and Aundrey Walker completed his eligibility), but that still leaves a lot of players left on what is going to be a talented offensive line for the Trojans. Senior center Max Tuerk (2012) is a very good player and both sophomore guards Damien Mama (2014) and Viane Talamaiva (2014) should be a lot better in their second seasons. Toa Lobendahn (2014) has big time potential at left tackle and Zach Banner (2012) is not a dancing bear, but he is a mauling presence at right tackle.
Throw in Jordan Simmons (2012), Khaleil Rodgers (2013), and Nico Falah (2013) for depth along with true freshman Chuma Edoga (2015) and it has the makings of a pretty good offensive line. As a bonus, USC already have two blue chip players committed for 2016 in Frank Martin and Nathan Smith. Despite the scholarship reductions, they have done really well to put together the offensive line at this point and I'm sure they are hoping that the sophomore starters take a big leap this fall.
2. UCLA 10
This number has to be surprising to anyone who doesn't follow recruiting closely because the Bruins have not been known for their offensive line during Jim Mora's tenure. A big reason for that was the offensive line recruiting before he got there. There were no blue chip offensive line commits in 2011 so no 5th year players that are going to be on this season's team and only one signed in 2012. That one was offensive tackle Lacy Westbrook and he suffered a brain aneurysm prior to getting to UCLA and was forced to medically retire from football.
Jump to the 2013 class and this appears to be the foundation for the 2015 season and beyond. Alex Redmond and Caleb Bennecoch are both penciled in as starters with Poasia Moala adding depth. Kenny Lacy was also in that class as a 4 star player and started two games last season. Offensive tackle Christian Morris has now transferred. Scott Quessenberry, a 3 star recruit, is the starter at center.
After signing none in 2014, the Bruins signed a great offensive line class in February with Josh Wariboko, Tevita Halalilo, Andre James, and Fred Ulu-Perry all seen as blue chip prospects. The problem is that they are all going to be true freshman this season, but may be forced into action because of lack of depth. Ten 4 star players sounds great, but when two are gone from the team and four of them are true freshmen, it isn't nearly as good as it sounds.
UCLA is off to a great start in 2016 recruiting but so far have no offensive lineman committed this cycle.
3. Stanford 8
This is another case where the number is a bit misleading because Stanford had one class where they signed most of these players.
We'll start it out with the lone blue chip in 2011 in Brendon Austin. He started two games last season. 2012 was the monster year for the Cardinal with Andrus Peat, Graham Shuler, Kyle Murphy, Joshua Garnett, and Brandon Fanaika. Peat was a first round pick in May's NFL Draft, but Shuler, Murphy, and Garnett are key cogs in the offensive line this fall. Fanaika only had his first year at Stanford last season due to taking a Mormon mission and redshirted.
That's five of the eight in one recruiting class. It was an epic class, but the bad news is that they haven't followed up that success with similar results. They signed no blue chips in 2013, one (Casey Tucker) in 2014 and another in 2015 (Nick Wilson).
Stanford has done a good of developing 3 star players and having them outplay what they were projected to be, but it's still a lot easier to have 4 and 5 star players to groom on the offensive line than 3 stars. They do have a commitment from a blue chip offensive lineman in 2016 in offensive tackle Clark Yabrough, but it's looking more and more like that 2012 class was an exception that will likely never repeat itself.
4. Oregon 7
Injuries have effected the two they signed in 2011. Left tackle Tyler Johnstone missed last season because of injury. He should be back ready to go this fall, but unfortunately Andre Yruretagoyena has now retired because of injuries he has suffered.
Kyle Long was the lone blue chip signee in 2012 and only got to play one season for the Ducks. He was a great in that season though, and ended up becoming a first round draft pick of the Chicago Bears.
The Ducks signed two 4 star offensive tackles in 2013. Evan Voeller has yet to see significant time, but Cameron Hunt is now a starter at guard. Haniteli Lousi is a massive junior college guard that signed in 2014, but was injured for much of last season. Zach Okun is the lone 2015 o-line 4 star signee and is already on campus.
5. Cal 4
Jordan Rigsbee (2011) comes into the fall with 24 starts under his belt for the Bears. In 2012, the Bears signed Freddie Tagaloa, but he has now transferred to Arizona. Myles (Erik) Bunte (2013) has yet to contribute much.
There are high hopes for 2015 signee Semisi Uluave.
T-6. Washington 3
I'm sure Steve Sarkisian enjoyed getting the credit for recruiting players like Danny Shelton and Shaq Thompson, but he did recruit well on the offensive line for the Huskies. All three of the blue chips on the offensive line for Washington were signed by Chris Petersen. Kaleb McGary (2014), Henry Roberts (2015), and Trey Adams (2015) all have bright futures for UW, but are all young.
The Huskies do have a commitment from a 4 star offensive tackle this cycle in Luke Wattenberg.
T-6. Utah 3
Jeremiah Poutasi was a 4 star recruit in 2012 and has now been drafted by the Tennessee Titans. The other 4 star from that class was Hiva Lutui. He started one game last season and is back for his senior year.
Jackson Barton (2014) redshirted last season and is competing for playing time at right tackle.
T-8. Arizona 2
Zach Hemilla (2012) has yet to make any impact yet, but there is a lot high expectations for 2015 signee Keenan Walker who looks like he could be the left tackle of the future for the Wildcats.
T-8. Arizona State 2
The next step for ASU is to recruit better on the offensive line. Evan Goodman (2012) will compete for a starting job this season at offensive tackle and they have incoming freshman Zach Robertson (2015) set to be in Tempe this fall.
10. Colorado 1
The good news is that Colorado is getting a really good player in Tim Lynott, who signed in February. The bad news is that he's one of only two blue chip players they have signed in the last five years at any position.
T-11. Oregon State and Washington State 0
No details necessary other than these two programs struggle to recruit top talent at every position.