Auburn Football: Gene Chizik Quietly Building Incredible Offensive Line
While Alabama and LSU will enter 2012 with arguably the two best offensive lines in the nation, the Auburn Tigers' front five is flying under the radar, ready to strike.
Auburn's offensive line play in 2011 was nothing to write home about, but the line was filled with new, raw faces that didn't have a lot of experience.
In 2012 they will be veterans, and a veteran offensive line is one of the most important pieces to a team's success.
Many attribute the Tigers' success in 2010 to the advent of Cam Newton, but I daresay the offensive line had more to do with it.
The combination of Ryan Pugh, Lee Ziemba and their supporting cast helped pave the way for Newton and Michael Dyer, but they did more before the season even started.
The promise of the Tigers' 2010 offensive line is certainly one of the main reasons that lured Newton to Auburn and it had nothing to do with money that never existed.
Gene Chizik is looking to get the line not only back to standard of 2010 but surpass it as well.
Three of the 2012 possible starters were rated as 4-star recruits by Scout.com. Center Reese Dismukes (6'3", 300 lbs.), left tackle Greg Robinson(6'5", 305 lbs.), and shooting survivor guard Eric Mack (6'3", 315 lbs.) were all talented recruits.
Chad Slade (6'5", 315 lbs) and senior John Sullen (6'5", 336 lbs.) flew under the radar heading into college but both have developed into promising players and Sullen enters the season as the Tigers' most experienced lineman.
Who will have the better offensive line in 2013?
Christian Westerman, a 2011 recruit, also may prove to be the crown jewel of his class.
Westerman was rated by Scout as a 5-star prospect and the nation's top offensive guard and appears to be the front-runner to earn a starting position.
Gene Chizik had a lot of success with his 2012 recruiting class as well when he brought in a slew of Rivals rated 4-star prospects.
Shane Callahan (6'6", 277 lbs.), Jordan Diamond (6'6", 289 lbs.), Alex Kozan (6'4", 295 lbs.), Patrick Miller (6'7", 260 lbs.) and Avery Young (6'6", 273 lbs.) were all highly-touted offensive line recruits with Young being the highlight.
The only thing these guys need to do is add some muscle, an easy task for a FBS offensive lineman.
Chizik brought in a total of seven offensive linemen in the 2012 class. You can tell he really wants some continuity and depth for his front five.
There may end up being a gap in the recruiting, however, as he has no verbal commitments from any offensive linemen in the 2013 class thus far.
Auburn will enter the 2012 season with a talented, experienced offensive line that may prove to have the best depth in the nation.
Whether the new quarterback is Clint Moseley or Kiehl Frazier, they will both be solidly protected and Auburn's talented and deep squad of running backs will have plenty of lanes to attack.
So while the media is drooling over guys like Alabama's Barrett Jones and LSU's Chris Faulk, Chizik and crew will continue to quietly build a powerful, championship-caliber offensive line.
It may not be the best in the SEC in 2012, but the youth and promise they have will pay dividends in 2013 when Bama and LSU lose most of what they have.
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