Indiana head coach Kevin Wilson knows a thing or two about successful offensive lineman. At Oklahoma, he tutored Jammal Brown, Vince Carter, Duke Robinson and Trent Williams into All-Americans, with Brown and Williams enjoying successful careers in the NFL.
Now a head coach, he's handed those duties over to IU offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator Greg Frey, who picked up where Wilson left off.
Two of Frey's prized pupils, left tackle Jason Spriggs and right guard Dan Feeney, each earned First Team All-America accolades over the last week, becoming IU's first pair of offensive linemen to earn the recongition in the same seson since 1945.
"What makes these two guys special is, when they came in, they had a very, very strong self-confidence," Frey said. "They believed in what they could be, they believed in what they were being taught and they went after it with a resilient, aggressive nature."
Both players didn't generate much buzz out of high school. Spriggs was a three-star prospect who played left tackle, defensive end and tight end at Concord High School in Elkhart, Ind. Feeney, an Orland Park, Ill. native, was also a three-star prospect out of Carl Sandburg High School whose number of offers (three) equaled the number of positions Spriggs played in high school.
Four years later, both players are earning the national recognition.
The Football Writers Association of America, The Walter Camp Football Foundation, the Associated Press, SI.com and Sporting News all recongized Spriggs as an All-American. In addition to ESPN.com All-America recognition, Feeney was also honored by CBS Sports, the Associated Press and SI.com.
"It's a great honor, and I think I owe most of that to our team and definitely our o-line," Spriggs said.
"It's a unit, we're five guys out there," Feeney added. "But it's great to get individually recognized. It just shows how far this team has come."
That unit's blocking and protection made Indiana's offense the most explosive in the conference. The Hoosiers finished first in the Big Ten in both points per game (36.2) and total yards per game (490.8) this season.
Individually, the offensive line also played a big role in senior quarterback Nate Sudfeld's record-setting season this year and former IU running back Tevin Coleman's 2,000-yard rushing season last year.
Coleman also earned All-America recognition last season. With the honors received by Spriggs and Feeney, Indiana has had three All-Americans over the last two seasons.
Equally impressive was what the two offensive offensive lineman were able to accomplish to this point in their careers.
Spriggs, one of six semifinalists for the Outland Trophy, allowed just two sacks in 431 called pass attempts this season and has 72 knockdowns in 972 snaps. He also started 28 conseutive games at the beginning of his IU career and has a team-high 46 starts in 47 games at left tackle. Feeney hasn't allowed any sacks in the same number of called pass attempts and has a team-best 91 knockdowns in 967 pass attempts.
Credit to Frey also must be given, as he was nominated in November for the Broyles Award, given to the nation's top assistant coach.
"Greg does an awesome job," Wilson said. "I don't even walk into his wheelhouse."
Frey still will have some time left with his All-American linemen. The Hoosiers will travel to New York to face Duke in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 26.
In November, Spriggs accepted an invitation to play in the Reese's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., which will be played on Jan. 30. Feeney still has one year of eligiblity left after a Lisfranc fracture in his foot forced him to miss his entire sophomore season in 2013.
CBS Sports recently projected Spriggs as a second-round NFL draft pick, while Feeney is rated as the No. 3 offensive guard among its 2017 prospects. Along with the All-American honors, it's a testament to their hardwork and how far they've come.
"They came in, they had a viision and a dream, and man they pursued it," Frey said. "It was fun to be a part of."