Nick Martin, Notre Dame (6-4, 296): Yes, Martin is related to another Martin of recent Notre Dame vintage. Zach Martin was the Cowboys’ first-round pick in 2014 and is a two-time All-Pro. Zach’s idea of brotherly love was hammering away at his little brother with “The Typewriter.” No reason was needed to jab a finger into Nick’s sternum. “He was one of those guys that would just do it for fun. No reason.” Competition drove the two to greater heights. “I try to mimic him as much as possible, on and off the field,” Nick said. Martin started 11 games at center as a sophomore — he had never snapped the ball until the start of spring practice — before a torn MCL sidelined him for the end of the season. He was back at center as a junior before moving to left guard for the final 10 games. As a senior, he returned to center, where he started all season. Martin was a two-year captain. Martin played in the Senior Bowl and was coached by the Cowboys’ coaching staff. Dallas coach Jason Garrett called Nick by his brother’s name a few times. “I call him ‘Notre Dame’ now,” Garrett said.
Connor McGovern, Missouri (6-4, 305): McGovern started the final 40 games of his career. He played center as a freshman before moving into the starting lineup at right guard as a sophomore. As a junior, he started the first four games at right tackle before moving back to right guard for the final 10 games. He was on the move again as a senior, replacing Chiefs rookie Mitch Morse and opening all 12 games at left tackle. “Morse came in as a tackle and had a really pretty kick slide and really fast feet,” McGovern said. “I came in as more of a bruiser and mauler. … It came a lot more natural to him, and that’s probably why I’ll never be as pretty as him.” McGovern, who was North Dakota’s Gatorade Player of the Year in high school, is the son of a bodybuilder. In June, he broke the school record in the squat — a staggering 690 pounds. Not once but five times. “It’s the scariest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” center Evan Boehm said. “No joke. … I’m sitting there thinking, ‘Oh my God, this kid’s a stud.’ After that, I’d be like, ‘Give me a water’ or ‘Give me a seat and let me sit down.’ This kid came up screaming and, from a dead pull, just rips his shirt off. … That’s one of the beastiest things and moments I’ve seen here at Mizzou. Just Connor, breaking the record and the freaking Hulk came out. Dude, it was nuts.”
Rees Odhiambo, Boise State (6-4, 305): Odhiambo started eight games at right tackle as a sophomore, nine games at left tackle as a junior and eight games at left tackle as a senior. He was named first-team all-Mountain West in 2015, even though he sustained an ankle injury that required surgery. Odhiambo is a native of Kenya but arrived in Texas with his mom and sister when he was 7 as his mom embarked on a path to becoming a chemist. “He had no idea about football, he had no idea about contact, he had no strength,” his coach at Mansfield (Texas) Legacy High School said. His mom died when he was a junior in high school, putting him in the custody of an uncle. The work ethic instilled by his mom remains. “It’s something my mom always taught me to have and it just kind of increased when I realized I have nothing to fall back on. I’ve just tried to do the best I can with the opportunity I’ve been given.”
Alex Redmond, UCLA (6-5, 305): Underclassman. Redmond started all three seasons at right guard. He was a Freshman All-American in 2013 and honorable mention all-Pac-12 in 2014 but didn’t win any postseason honors in 2015. He signed with an agent before the Bruins’ bowl game, making himself ineligible. He played with a mean streak at UCLA. At Los Alamitos High School in Cerritos, Calif., that wasn’t always the case. “Alex came in as a pudgy, roly-poly freshman,” wrestling coach Ken Torres said. “He was a big kid. I think he was about 6 feet as a freshman but he was probably about 240 pounds, so he wasn’t muscular by any means. And I would not describe him as tough as a freshman at all.” As a senior, Redmond was a different guy, reaching the state finals. He’d make his mark in football, though. “You can’t smush people in wrestling like you can in football,” Redmond said. “It’s more controlled and you can’t smush those guys to the ground like you can D-linemen. It’s just the way wrestling is. Football is my true love.”
Isaac Seumalo, Oregon State (6-4, 310): Underclassman. Seumalo has rare five-position versatility. As a true freshman, he was the Beavers’ starting center. Seumalo, the first freshman to start at center for OSU since 1978, earned Freshman All-America honors. He started 10 games at center and two at right tackle as a sophomore to earn second-team all-Pac-12 honors, but sustained a broken foot in the bowl game. Fixing the injury required two surgeries, costing him the entire 2014 season. He gained perspective by working at Troy Polamalu's football camp in America Samoa. Some of the kids didn't even have shoes. "It was probably one of my best weeks of my life," Seumalo said. "For sure." In 2015, he was an honorable mention on the all-conference team as he started nine times at right guard and three times at the end of the season at left tackle. Seumalo comes from a family of athletes. His father, Joe, is a former defensive line coach at Oregon State who now coaches the defensive line at UNLV. An older brother, Andrew, played defensive tackle for the Beavers and is a graduate assistant coach at the school. A sister, Jessi, plays volleyball for OSU. “He has all of that stuff, but more than anything, he has what it takes mentally,” offensive line coach T.J. Woods said. “He’s a coach’s kid. All those stereotypes are fulfilled with Isaac. He comes to work every day. It matters to him. He wants to be great, not good. You can tell that’s his mentality and approach in every single thing he does, every minute of his existence.”
Joe Thuney, N.C. State (6-4, 299): As a senior, Thuney was named a first-team All-American — the first N.C. State lineman to earn that honor since 1979. The school hadn’t even produced an all-conference offensive lineman since 2003. He didn’t allow a sack all season. Thuney had quite a sophomore season. He was listed as the team’s starting center entering fall camp. However, he started the season at right tackle, then moved to right guard, then started the last 10 games at left tackle. Thuney grew into the stud of the offensive line after arriving at N.C. State at less than 250 pounds. The senior graduate student from Centerville, Ohio, was a semifinalist for the William Campbell Trophy — aka the Academic Heisman. “I think that an important part of being a college athlete is time management. You come in every day and you’re gonna work ‘x’ amount of hours for football but you have to have the ability to change priorities after football and focus on your schoolwork. Getting things done beforehand helps a lot because weekends are busy with games so you just have to manage your time and know what your priorities are.”
Sebastian Tretola, Arkansas (6-4, 317): Tretola is taking a winding road to the NFL. At Nevada, he redshirted in 2011 and started four games in 2012. He spent 2013 at Iowa Western Community College. He landed at Arkansas, where he started at left guard as a junior and senior. “Coming out of high school, I had to grayshirt at Nevada because I didn't make grades. The fact that I had dodged that first bullet, I kept thinking I was glad I didn't have to experience (screwing up), planned on never having to deal with it. A few years later, I wind up flunking out and it's like, ‘Oh, my God, I've gotta do it now.’ So, I end up in Council Bluffs, Iowa. And from day one, no disrespect to Council Bluffs, it's a lovely town, but I am not a cowboy, so that's not my neck of the woods. It gets really cold and really hot. It was not an enjoyable time.” As a junior, he threw a touchdown pass on a fake field goal against UAB. As a senior, he was first-team all-conference. He started his final 24 games at left guard, allowing one-half sack.
Landon Turner, North Carolina (6-3, 325): Turner started for his final three-and-a-half seasons. After earning third-team all-ACC honors as a junior, Turner had a tremendous senior campaign with first-team All-American accolades. It made his second thoughts about returning to school disappear. He was the ACC’s four-time Offensive LIneman of the Week, as the school illustrates in this really cool photo. During the first game of his sophomore season at Harrisonburg (Va.) High School, he sustained a broken left ankle and severe ligament damage to his foot. “There were a lot of expletives ... I think I said every one I knew,” he said. “I was very emotional because I could tell the severity of it. I didn’t know how bad, but you get a feeling.” He missed the season and spent months in a hospital bed and wheelchair. An uncle, Jim Braxton, was a third-round pick by the Bills in 1971. In 90 career games, Braxton rushed for 2,890 yards and 25 touchdowns. Turner is so athletic that he played guard and middle linebacker in high school. At the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January 2011, Turner gave his helmet to the battalion that was shipping out to Afghanistan. "You guys make it possible for me to play football by going into harm's way, so it's the least I can do,” he said.
Christian Westerman, Arizona State (6-3, 296): Westerman spent two years at Auburn before returning to his native Arizona and starting 25 games at left guard for the Sun Devils. He was an honorable mention on the all-Pac-12 team as a junior before winning first-team accolades as a senior. He won the school’s Randall McDaniel Outstanding Offensive Lineman Award as a senior. He figures to put up monster numbers in terms of strength and athleticism at the Combine. His father was a three-year starting offensive lineman at Cal and his mom is a Miami Dolphins cheerleader. "I wasn't as athletic as he was with the quickness and the footwork and all that," Westerman’s dad said. "I was a good football player, but I was not at Christian's level. Christian has the speed I didn't have, and I think he got that from his mother." Westerman was a five-star recruit out of Hamilton High School in Chandler, Ariz. Before that, he was far too big to play in youth football. So, he played baseball and basketball. “He trained as a boxer for about five years,” his father said. “All that type of training really works on your core, your fundamentals, your footwork and your ability to be athletic and light on your feet. It also gave Christian an outlet for his aggression. He really likes to hit people.”
Cody Whitehair, Kansas State (6-4, 300): Whitehair’s versatility will make him a coveted draft pick. As a senior, he started all 13 games at left tackle and was chosen first-team all-Big 12. He was an honorable mention for Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year, the team’s co-offensive MVP and a first-team all-conference academic selection. He started the final 41 games of his career, including his final two seasons at left tackle out of necessity. “Cody was up for the challenge. He always is,” coach Bill Snyder said. “He meets all those challenges the same way. He does very well.” Earlier in his career, he started at right tackle as a freshman and left guard as a sophomore. “It’s all about my quickness,” Whitehair said. “Everyone knows I am a guard body playing tackle. I just try to keep my body in the best position it can be in to help me win that play.”
ALSO IN THIS SERIES
Offensive tackles, Part 1
Offensive tackles, Part 2
Offensive guards, Part 1 (FREE)
Offensive guards, Part 2 (FREE)
Tight ends, Part 1 (FREE)
Tight ends, Part 2 (FREE)
Wide receivers, Part 1 (FREE)
Wide receivers, Part 2
Wide receivers, Part 3
Wide receivers, Part 4 (FREE)
Running backs, Part 1 (FREE)
Running backs, Part 2
Running backs, Part 3
Quarterbacks, Part 1 (FREE)
Quarterbacks, Part 2 (FREE)
Quarterbacks, Part 3 (FREE)
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.