Every good team needs a good quarterback who manages the game.
They need a good running back to make defenders look silly and wide receivers to use their hands to make large gains.
But those positions are absolutely nothing without the behemoths in the trenches.
For part five of the 2012 Kansas Football Season preview, we look at the men protecting the pretty boys.
Ladies and gentlemen, your Jayhawks Offensive Line.
Here is the depth chart for the offensive line, released last Wednesday before practices started. Positions on the chart are subject to change.
- Tanner Hawkinson (Sr.)
- Pat Lewandowski (So.)
- Duane Zlatnik (Sr.)
- Damon Martin (Fr.)
- Luke Luhrsen (Fr.)
- Trevor Marrongelli (Sr.)
- Dylan Admire (Fr.)
- Gavin Howard (Jr.)
- Randall Dent (Jr.)
- Riley Spencer (Jr.)
- Aslam Sterling (Jr.)
- Bryan Peters (Fr.)
- Mike Ragone (Sr.)
- Jimmay Mundine (So.)
- Charles Brooks (Jr.)
- Brian Beckmann (Fr.)
- Josh Burgoon (Jr.)
- Sean Connolly (Fr.)
- Jordan Shelly-Smith (Fr.)
- Trent Smiley (So.)
Let's begin with starting left tackle, senior Tanner Hawkinson.
Hawkinson is a beast. There's nothing more to say than that.
After redshirting the 2008 season, he started all 12 games in 2009.
In fact, Hawkinson has not missed a start in his first three years of eligibility, and that shouldn't change for 2012.
Hawkinson will provide excellent senior leadership as well as 36-games-straight starting experience.
He will anchor the left side for hopefully 13 or 14 more games.
Backing up Hawkinson is sophomore Pat Lewandowski.
Lewandowski redshirted his freshman season in 2010,
Last year, he played in all 12 games at defensive tackle, even making two starts.
He was moved to the offensive side of the ball for this year, and will most likely claim the starting spot in 2013 and 2014.
For now, he will back up Hawkinson this year, giving Hawkinson a breather occasionally.
Moving down the line, we take a look at the starting left guard, senior Duane Zlatnik.
This 306-pound lineman has experience on both the left and right sides of the line, and on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
He redshirted in 2008, got some limited playing time in 2009 as a defensive backup and then played some quality time as right guard in 2010.
In 2011, he started all 12 games at right guard.
His move over to the left side of the line might be an adjustment, but he's shown his versatility and he should be just as good in his new position.
One of two freshmen going for the second-string spot at left guard is Damon Martin.
Martin was an all-district, first team offensive tackle in high school where he lettered three years.
He redshirted in 2011.
Even though he is nearly identical to his competition for the spot, Luke Luhrsen, the edge will probably go to Luhrsen for the second-string spot. Based off of high school honors, Luhrsen did better than Martin.
The spot is truly a toss-up because, obviously, college football is a lot different than high school football.
Like Martin, Luhrsen redshirted in 2011 and has four more years of eligibility left.
In high school, Luhrsen earned all-state, all-area and all-conference honors, and his team only lost one game during his entire football career.
Because he was more successful in high school, I'm guessing Luhrsen will beat out Martin for the second-string spot, but it's a close competition.
Trevor Marrongelli will take the reins as the starting center.
Marrongelli redshirted his freshman year in 2008, then saw some substantial playing time at guard in 2009.
In 2010, he started four games at guard before a hamstring injury ended his season. Last season, he started all 12 games at guard.
Marrongelli will have to adjust to being the center, but his experience on the line should be an asset to both him and the Jayhawks.
Backing up Marrongelli is freshman Dylan Admire.
Admire redshirted in 2011 after coming off a successful career in high school at Blue Valley West.
He was ranked as the 30th best guard in the nation by Rivals coming out of high school.
Admire is a quality backup, and will probably see three great years as a starter from 2013-2015.
Moving over to the right side of the ball is starting right guard Gavin Howard.
This will be the first year that Howard is a starter—he redshirted in 2009 and saw limited time as a backup in 2010.
In 2011, he saw more quality time as he appeared in 10 games on the offensive line.
Howard's lack of starting experience could be a concern for the Jayhawks, but since he will be surrounded by many seniors with experience, he should be protected by the rest of the line.
Backing up Howard will be fellow junior Randall Dent.
Dent has never played guard before in his collegiate or high school career.
He redshirted in 2009 and didn't see any action at all in 2010.
In 2011, however, he only missed one game as a force on the defensive line.
Like Howard, Dent is another question mark on the offensive line because of his lack of experience.
Hopefully Howard doesn't get hurt, that's all I'll say.
Rounding out the right side and starting at the tackle position will be one of two men.
The first of those men is junior Riley Spencer.
Spencer redshirted in 2009, then saw some time as a reserve tackle in 2010.
In 2011, he got some more playing time, once again as a reserve.
While Spencer is big at 305 pounds, his competition is a whopping 360 pounds, and has junior college experience.
Unfortunately, for Spencer, it doesn't look like he will be the starter.
Standing at a humongous 6'5" and 360 pounds is the likely starter at right tackle, junior Aslam Sterling.
Sterling played left tackle at Nassau Community College during his first two years of eligibility and started every single game.
NCC was 19-2 while Sterling was playing left tackle.
His junior college experience and size should give him the edge over Spencer for the starting right tackle position.
The backup right tackle on the depth chart will be freshman Bryan Peters.
Peters came out of high school the 65th best tackle in the nation according to Rivals, and then redshirted his freshman year in 2011.
With two quality guys already on the depth chart at right tackle, don't expect him to get much playing time at all, if any.
Starting at the tight end position will be senior Mike Ragone.
Playing in his sixth year of eligibility because of injuries, Ragone is a transfer from Notre Dame who followed Weis to Kansas.
Ragone saw some time in 2007 as a true freshman, then proceeded to redshirt in 2008 after he tore an ACL in training camp.
In 2009, he was the primary tight end for Notre Dame for a few games, recording a few catches.
In 2010, he saw more time as he played in 12 games for the Irish, but only started two.
In 2011, he played the first two games before suffering a season-ending injury, and was then granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA.
Ragone is a bit worrisome because he is certainly injury prone, and he is coming off of another one after last season.
His upside is too good to pass up, however, as he could be a very good offensive tool for Kansas.
Jimmay Mundine is a sophomore that will be one of the two men battling it out for the second-string tight end spot.
In 2010, Mundine redshirted his freshman season, then played in nine games in 2011, where he hauled in his first career touchdown against Kansas State.
Even though Mundine was productive for Kansas last year, expect him to lose out the second string job to Charles Brooks, who saw a lot of quality playing time in junior college.
The second-string tight end position will most likely go to junior Charles Brooks.
Brooks transferred from Scottsdale Community College. During his first two years of eligibility, he caught 26 passes for 317 yards and five touchdowns, an impressive number indeed.
Brooks has the power to be very productive for Kansas, and will most likely get his shot to shine in 2013 for his senior season.
That wraps it up for the offensive line preview. The Jayhawks look very strong in the trenches, and the offense should shine because of it.
The left side looks to be a bit more stable than the right, but the line is full of young men who have the potential to be great.
Next: August 9th: Defensive Line
In case you missed it...