Top 5 OLs in the ACC

CUTigers.com takes a look at the top five offensive lines in the Atlantic Coast Conference. (pictured left- the No. 2 center in the ACC, Clemson's Thomas Austin)

#1. MARYLAND
Even though the Terps haven't been exactly "electric" on offense in recent years, their returning offensive line is the best the ACC has to offer in 2008. Four of five starters return, led by one of the top centers in the league in Edwin Williams (6-3,315) while LG Jaimie Thomas (6-4,330) and left tackle Scott Burley (6-5,335) will also get All-ACC consideration. New offensive coordinator James Franklin needs to work some magic in his first year on the job, but at least he has the talent up front to do it. Quarterback? That's a different story. Still, the Terps have plenty of size on their offensive line, averaging 6-4, 317 pounds per player.

#2. VIRGINIA TECH
The Hokies lost their best lineman from a year ago in tackle Duane Brown but everybody else is back, including potential All-ACC candidates RG Sergio Render (6-4,324) and C Ryan Schuman (6-3,313). Last year was a somewhat of a disappointment up front as collectively the Hokies gave up an incredible 54 sacks- one of the worst numbers in the country but still won the ACC. However, three seniors will start in the interior in 2008, including Nick Marshman, who is back at his "normal" position of left guard and a healthy Ed Wang is back at left tackle. In addition, eight out of the top 10 lineman are back from last year's team. Not bad.

#3. BOSTON COLLEGE
The entire left side of the line returns, sort of, led by senior guard Clif Ramsey (6-6,305). Sophomore star tackle Anthony Castonzo (6-7,270) moved from the right side to left during spring practice and should help protect new quarterback Chris Cane's blind side. Also, stepping into two new starting positions will be 6-8, 324 pound right tackle Rich Lapham, as well as 6-3, 330 pound guard Thomas Claiborne, a former defensive tackle. It's Boston College- expect plenty of size and plenty of talent and a better understanding of head coach Jeff Jagodzinski's zone-blocking scheme he brought with him from the Green Bay Packers a year ago. The rest of the league should be so lucky.

#4. NORTH CAROLINA
Surprised? Don't be, four of five starters return, including two juniors and two seniors. 6-7 right tackle Garrett Reynolds (6-7,310) is the cream of the crop with this unit and will garner All-ACC honors. The run blocking will need to improve as the Heels were just 10th in the ACC last year at 99 yard per game, but the passing game should be solid with wide receivers Nicks, Foster, Tate and quarterback T.J. Yates back. It's not the most talented bunch, but given the sheer amount of experience returning, plus year two of quality coaching under Butch Davis, the Heels should be one of the most improved teams in the league in 2008.

#5. WAKE FOREST
On paper it looks the Deacs' offensive line has massive holes to fill from last year's squad, including finding a replacement for one of the top centers in the nation in Steve Justice. However a closer inspection reveals there are three players with 30 combined starts, including tackles Jeff Griffin (6-3,300) and Joe Birdsong (6-4,290) and right guard Barrett McMillion (6-3,288). In addition, head coach Jim Grobe will rotate in as many as 10 linemen to give his team an edge in the fourth quarter. The starting five may lack sizzle, but will pack enough punch to make the pesky Deacs just that- pesky.

TOP 5 CENTERS
#1. Edwin Williams 6-3, 315 (Maryland)
#2. Thomas Austin 6-3, 315 (Clemson)
#3. Ryan McMahon 6-3, 275 (Florida State)
#4. Matt Tennant 6-4, 285 (Boston College)
#5. Ryan Schuman 6-3 313 (Virginia Tech)

TOP 5 GUARDS
#1. Sergio Render 6-4, 325 (Virginia Tech)
#2. Curtis Crouch 6-5, 325 (N.C. State)
#3. Jaimie Thomas 6-4, 330 (Maryland)
#4. Calvin Darity 6-3, 310 (North Carolina)
#5. Clif Ramsey 6-6, 305 (Boston College)

TOP 5 TACKLES
#1. Eugene Monroe 6-6, 315 (Virginia)
#2. Andrew Gardner 6-6, 298 (Georgia Tech)
#3. Garrett Reynolds 6-7, 310 (North Carolina)
#4. Will Barker 6-7, 315 (Virginia)
#5. Scott Burley 6-5, 335 (Maryland)


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