Offensive linemen usually don't get billed as a team's most important player, especially in the Big 12, where quarterbacks and skill position players rule the day.
However, that doesn't make them very important.
If we could go back to the beginning of the 2013 college football season, we would see many different analysts projecting the Oklahoma State Cowboys as one of the top two or three teams in the Big 12.
They were returning two quality quarterbacks, had a plethora of proven skill position players and looked to have one of their best defenses in years.
And things started out very well, with a solid win against Mississippi State and a few drubbings of cupcake teams. Then the Pokes went to West Virginia.
We all know what happened in that one, and there are many different reasons the team lost that game. With that said, one of the most important reasons was that the Cowboys hadn't gotten consistent play out of their offensive line.
Part of that goes back to them losing Devin Davis (the projected starting left tackle) right before the season began.
That injury, which kept Davis out for the whole season, forced the team to shuffle around its entire line, moving guys like Daniel Koenig out of position. In fact, almost the entire offensive line had players either playing out of their natural positions or playing well before they were ready.
Obviously, the Pokes still had a solid season; however, one can't help but wonder at what might have happened if Davis had stayed healthy.
Now we're entering 2014, and reports from Oklahoma State's spring practices and Orange Blitz are that the line looks really young and inexperienced. That likely stems from Davis and Brandon Garrett, the two guys who would likely be the starting tackles if they were healthy, recovering from injury.
Garrett is currently ahead of Davis on the road to recovery and will likely make it back before the season opener. Davis' return is not so likely.
If (and it looks like that might be a big if) Davis can get back in time, that would allow Koenig and Chris Grisbhy to man the two guard spots, their natural position.
That gives the Pokes a much more veteran, battle-tested offensive line and allows young guys to take more time to mature in backup duty.
Further, it greatly improves Oklahoma State's chances of competing this season.
Think about it: With a veteran offensive line protecting J.W. Walsh, he would have more time to throw and be less likely to take off running. That gets the ball in the hands of the countless playmakers outside, which is always a good thing.
Additionally, it makes the rushing game much more of a threat and could lead the team back to its more balanced attack that made Mike Gundy famous.
We're still very far away from the season and, thus, can't really know what's going to happen with Davis. That said, if Davis (and Garrett) can come back, there's almost no question that Oklahoma State would be improved on offense.
Does that make him the most important player of this season? It's hard to say given all the losses on the defensive side of the ball, but he represents a big jump in offensive production if he can man that left tackle position.
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