College Football Recruiting OL Rankings 2015: Top 10 After The Opening
They may not give the postgame interviews or get the glory on touchdown highlights, but offensive attacks can't function without strong performances from the big boys. Offensive linemen must counter an increasingly athletic crop of pass-rushers and defensive tackles while handling intricate blitz schemes and everything else the opposition throws their way.
Players with superior size who can create rushing lanes and protect the passer on a consistent basis quickly become coveted college prospects. Many of the nation's best blockers journeyed to Beaverton, Oregon, earlier this month to test their skills against elite completion at Nike's The Opening.
The event plays a paramount role in summer re-evaluations of the current recruiting cycle and resulted in newly released 247Sports composite rankings for the 2015 class. Bleacher Report watched the trench battles in Beaverton and continued to analyze 2013 game film to provide analysis on the nation's 10 top-rated offensive linemen, according to composite rankings.
This article is a part of Bleacher Report's CFB 200 Recruiting Rankings Series. The overall rankings are based on 247Sports Composite, which takes into account every recruiting service's rankings. The positional rankings also correspond with those composite scores. Stay tuned over the next two weeks as we take an in-depth look at college football's stars of tomorrow.
10. Richie Petitbon, Gonzaga College High School (Washington, D.C.)
Committed to: Alabama
Richie Petitbon will be a third-generation Division I college football player and appears to be well-refined from a family rich with football history. His grandfather, also Richie, earned NFL All-Pro honors as a defensive back before becoming coach of the Washington Redskins, while his dad played for Maryland.
The 6'4", 301-pound prospect is a heady player who is capable of playing multiple positions across the offensive front. He has plenty to work on, like most prospects, but the pieces are in place for him to develop into a dependable college starter.
Petitbon anticipates what's coming his way quite well in game situations, which is really a testament to his awareness and preparation. He doesn't get fooled by alignments and could become a leader on the offensive line at the next level because of that football IQ.
From a physical standpoint, Petitbon provides pop at the point of contact, but he'll need to become significantly stronger to finish off plays in the SEC. He could generate more power by narrowing his base, which tends to be too wide at times.
This would provide him with a better anchor and allow him to maintain balance against bull-rushing defenders. When Petitbon pairs his smarts with stricter technique, he could make a lot of progress in a hurry.
"I'm just trying to get better every day and do everything I can to be ready for a career at Alabama," Petitbon said during a break at The Opening.
9. Drew Richmond, Memphis University High School (Memphis, Tennessee)
247Sports Crystal Ball Prediction: Tennessee (46 percent); Ohio State (39 percent); Ole Miss (7 percent); Alabama (4 percent); Memphis (4 percent)
Guys gravitated toward Drew Richmond during The Opening due to his sense of humor. They respected him because of his skills as a blocker.
The 6'5", 320-pound offensive tackle provided some highlight blocks during the three-day stretch in Beaverton and appeared to implement new lessons he learned from instructors.
Richmond does a great job at the point of contact, rolling his hips and punching through the defender. He was a little overanxious at times, and that cost him, but it was an impressive performance overall.
He seemed to take better angles than what showed up on game tape, but of course, there's a big difference between drills and live-game action when linebackers enter the equation. Richmond is ridiculously strong for a high school student and can get away with some mistakes by simply overpowering his opponent.
His reach in pass protection is solid but not spectacular. It would be interesting to see how Richmond would adapt to playing guard if asked to make that transition in college.
The outlook here is that he would benefit from a year on the sidelines, cleaning up his technique and building even more strength. Whenever Richmond is deemed ready to take on a starting role, he has plenty of promise.
8. Jake Fruhmorgen, Plant High School (Tampa, Florida)
Committed to: Clemson
Jake Fruhmorgen is one of two Clemson offensive tackle commits to land on this list. The 6'5", 280-pound prospect is another high-ceiling recruit, and he is the son of former Alabama and Miami Dolphins lineman John Fruhmorgen.
The first thing that stands out about Fruhmorgen is his formidable lower body. It provides a strong foundation for an athlete who still has a long way to go in building upper-body bulk.
He uses that base to drive defenders downfield, chopping his feet through the whistle. Fruhmorgen manages to make it to the second level on the majority of plays, helping further his team's rushing efforts.
His hand placement is consistently on point, directly disrupting a defensive lineman as part of double-team efforts before hunting down a linebacker. There isn't a ton of power to his game right now, but the technique is outstanding.
There are two key elements he must fine-tune in order to make a leap in effectiveness.
Fruhmorgen sometimes lets his opponents off the hook by not finishing blocks with authority. No one is asking him to be a nasty player, but intimidation plays a factor along the line, and he could stand to do a better job of sending that message.
His footwork is fluid, but a smoother kick-slide could help Fruhmorgen accelerate his maturation process and challenge for a role as a contributor as an underclassman at Clemson.
7. Jalin Barnett, Lawton High School (Lawton, Oklahoma)
247Sports Crystal Ball Prediction: Oklahoma (100 percent)
Jalin Barnett is the Sooners' top in-state target, but his recruitment is a nationwide frenzy. The 6'4", 315-pound prospect is just about where he needs to be from a physical standpoint—stout enough to handle the big boys inside and athletic enough to maneuver beyond the trenches when called upon.
He led the way for a Lawton rushing attack that produced 313 yards per contest in 2013, according to MaxPreps. That's where Barnett does his best work, exhibiting fundamentals that don't display laziness.
His reach comes from the lower body, as active feet enable him to engage defensive linemen from a distance. Even top-rated blockers get caught lunging toward opponents with their upper body on a regular basis, but you won't see that from Barnett, and it helps him establish balance throughout the play.
His long arms are key in pass protection, where he operates with excellent posture. Barnett gets into his set with a well-spaced base and is steadfast with his footwork while taking on a charging defender.
Typically slotted as an offensive guard at the next level, Barnett appears to have the tools to excel at right tackle. His role will be ultimately determined by where he commits, with a showdown between Arkansas and Oklahoma looming.
6. Javon Patterson, Petal High School (Petal, Mississippi)
247Sports Crystal Ball Prediction: Ole Miss (67 percent); Auburn (33 percent)
Javon Patterson silenced any doubts about his athleticism during SPARQ testing at The Opening. The 6'2", 290-pound standout ran the 40-yard dash in 5.06 seconds and notched a 24-inch vertical leap, proving his game is based on far more than power.
Still, it is pretty thrilling to watch Patterson exert his strength in the trenches.
He is solidly built, a strong sign that his transition to the college game won't require a great deal of physical retooling. As a result, Patterson is a candidate to compete for immediate playing time.
His fundamentals are in place as well. He fires out of his stance and consistently gets under the pads of defensive linemen while driving through with a powerful upper body.
There were times in Oregon when he manhandled typically monstrous defensive talents.
Patterson displays great knee bend, which allows him to quickly turn his opponent and create a gap for running backs to exploit. He isn't satisfied with only taking one man out of the equation and regularly looks for his next target once the play is past him.
Patterson lines up at left tackle in high school but seems tailor-made to play guard in the SEC. He already has plenty of experience pulling, as he's able to quickly get to the intended mark and turn his shoulders at the point of attack to spring big gains out of the backfield.
He announced a top five in May, with Florida, Auburn, Mississippi State, Alabama and Ole Miss still in the mix.
5. Lester Cotton, Central High School (Tuscaloosa, Alabama)
Committed to: Alabama
Lester Cotton brings rare range to the guard position, as he's balanced as a run-blocker and in pass protection. During drills at The Opening, he displayed elite mobility for a 6'4", 325-pound lineman.
It was eye-opening to see him smoothly kick-slide in both directions to cut off angles. He projects as an extremely effective lead blocker who can pave the way when he pulls and escorts running backs downfield.
Cotton is sturdy and stout, showing off impressive power that pairs perfectly with his lateral agility. He withstood bull-rush efforts from top-tier defensive tackles and never appeared panicked if initially beaten off the ball.
His composure stood out in Beaverton, where other offensive linemen clearly began to cave mentally after suffering a series of bad reps. Cotton is a true competitor who can handle the challenge of taking on burly linemen or blitzing linebackers.
He was a standout performer in a group that featured three Alabama commits.
"It's exciting to work with these guys already because we're going to be doing big things together in the future," Cotton said after drills in Oregon. "Everyone wants to prove they belong here."
His effort warranted the No. 1 national ranking among offensive guards. Rest assured, he earned that title.
4. Maea Teuhema, Keller High School (Keller, Texas)
Committed to: LSU
The former Texas commit flipped to LSU in February when his older brother, Sione, signed with the Tigers. You'll be hard-pressed to find a more physically imposing presence than Maea Teuhema, a 6'4.5", 340-pound prospect who punishes opponents through the final whistle.
His weight may sound alarming, but he doesn't move with uncoordinated sluggishness. Still, he will shed some baby fat as a collegiate training staff sculpts his body.
Teuhema takes control off the snap with one of the most powerful punches we've seen from a prospect in recent years. Once he ensures the defender is off balance, Teuhema polishes them off with a pancake.
He served up a lot of those last season, sometimes stacking up two on a single play.
Teuhema doesn't sacrifice athleticism for size, displaying excellent reactive body quickness against pass-rushers. He is widely projected to play tackle at the next level, but there's plenty of proof he can slide inside and thrive at guard.
"He can play guard or tackle," Keller head coach Carl Stralow told Wescott Eberts of SB Nation last year. "However things change and how he grows—which is kind of scary—will impact that."
The raw power is in place along with remarkable athleticism to match his massive frame. With physical improvement and quicker footwork, Teuhema can become a dominant road grader in the SEC.
3. Chuma Edoga, McEachern High School (Powder Springs, Georgia)
Committed to: USC
Chuma Edoga is heading across the country to compete for the Trojans and could quickly become a mainstay up front. His greatest asset is what eludes so many mammoth high school offensive linemen: quickness.
Despite a 6'3", 276-pound frame, Edoga is light on his feet and can take care of business against agile defenders. He doesn't get locked into spots in the trenches and manages to redirect his stance with fluidity.
This footwork really shines in pass protection, where he is able to mirror defenders off the edge. It also serves him well in the run game, as Edoga disengages from his initial assignment to eliminate defenders at the second level.
He must develop a stronger base to become a dominant run-blocker, but there are consistent signs of tenacity—some may call it a mean streak—that impress when he's driving a defender downfield.
"I play with a lot of passion," Edoga said at The Opening. "The game is won and lost up front, so you have to be physical."
Edoga will set the tone early and often once he emerges as a starter at USC. Given his athleticism and aggressiveness, don't be surprised if that opportunity arrives in 2015.
2. Mitch Hyatt, North Gwinnett High School (Suwanee, Georgia)
Committed to: Clemson
Mitch Hyatt might just be a plug-and-play collegiate left tackle as early as next fall. He isn't ready for that challenge yet, but he clearly belongs in the discussion as America's best front-line bookend and has a year before freshman training camp presents him with a shot to crack the lineup.
He's athletic enough to compete against speedy pass-rushers, who hardly ever beat him to the corner. Several standout defensive ends attempted to blow by his outside shoulder at The Opening but ended up being halted in their tracks.
Hyatt, who hovers around the 270-pound range, does need to build up his strength before reaching the next level. He was jostled on a few occasions at the point of contact, creating a brief opening for defenders to slip into the backfield.
There doesn't seem to be much wasted weight on Hyatt's 6'5.5" frame, so it's probably safe to project him playing closer to 290 pounds in college. This will make him sturdier against bull-rush efforts and add to his arsenal as an elite offensive tackle.
He takes coaching tips very well and utilizes them immediately. Hyatt is a technician with his footwork and dishes out an effective first punch at the point of attack to gain leverage.
"Everyone is out here trying to get better," Hyatt said after a practice session at The Opening. "It gives you an opportunity to go up against the best of the best. I think I've improved on some things, and I'm fortunate to be able to compete against some great defensive linemen."
Hyatt sounded thrilled about his commitment to Clemson.
"I'm really excited to head up there and get to work," he said.
No offensive lineman is more fundamentally sound on every snap. As Hyatt continues to mature physically, he has the makings of a multiyear All-Conference selection.
1. Martez Ivey, Apopka High School (Apopka, Florida)
247Sports Crystal Ball Prediction: Florida (85 percent); Auburn (15 percent)
Martez Ivey performed like a man among boys at The Opening, which speaks volumes since he was competing against the country's top defensive linemen. There's been substantial growth in his game since a junior season that featured more raw strength than airtight fundamentals.
We witnessed an elite athlete really coming into his own in Oregon. Ivey, looking more like a lean basketball forward than lumbering lineman, makes up ground at a startling pace.
His footwork and slide step put him in position to cut off angles against even the most elite pass-rushers. Ivey won the clash against top-ranked defensive end Josh Sweat on multiple occasions, though he did concede some battles versus the nation's No. 1 overall prospect.
"I think we split our reps," Ivey said afterward. "That was pretty intense, but I'm pretty happy with the way I went after him."
The 6'6", 270-pound specimen displays elite reach with a wingspan college coaches covet. He can still afford to make strides when it comes to pad level, but his hand placement and reaction time already look better than last fall.
The most impressive part of Ivey's performance in Beaverton is that he is still far from a finished product. With additional weight and technical enhancements, he could be the next offensive tackle to shoot to the top of NFL draft boards in a few years.
His college destination likely comes down to a pair of SEC rivals.
"Florida and Auburn are really standing out to me right now," Ivey said. "I don't want to say that other teams are out of it and those are my only two, but I'm looking at those schools most."
All quotes obtained firsthand by B/R national recruiting columnist Tyler Donohue unless otherwise noted.
Recruit information and statistics courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.