As Nebraska prepares for another run through the Big Ten Conference, HuskerOnline.com will get you ready with ranking analysis pieces breaking down each position in the league. Today, we look at the top offensive linemen in the Big Ten heading into 2014.
1. Brandon Scherff, Iowa, T, 6-5, 320, Sr.
It's rare that an offensive lineman could be considered a team's star player, but in the case of Iowa left tackle Brandon Scherff, that is exactly the case. Despite being projected as a potential first-round pick coming out of his junior year, Scherff returned for his senior season and was immediately regarded as a surefire top-10 or even top-five NFL prospect for 2015. He'll pave the way for Iowa's offense once again this year, as the Hawkeyes look to make a run at a Big Ten West Division title.
2. Jack Allen, Michigan State, C, 6-1, 300, Jr.
A starter since his redshirt freshman year, Michigan State's Jack Allen returns as one of the top interior offensive linemen in the Big Ten this season. Though he's started five career games at guard, Allen's home is at center, where he earned second-team all-conference honors in 2013 and ranked third on the team with 68 knock downs, including seven against Ohio State in the Big Ten title game. A former Freshman All-American in 2012, Allen will be the heart and soul of the Spartans' offense up front.
3. Rob Havenstein, Wisconsin, T, 6-8, 327, Sr.
With a towering 6-foot-8, 327-pound frame, right tackle Rob Havenstein is the latest in a pipeline of monster offensive lineman at Wisconsin. A second-team All-Big Ten selection last season, Havenstein has started the past 27 games for the Badgers while also seeing time in every game of his redshirt freshman year in 2011. Assuming he has yet another dominating year on the right side for UW, Havenstein could be near the top of the conference awards lists at the end of the season.
4. Alex Lewis, Nebraska, T, 6-6, 290, Jr.
Yes, Nebraska's Alex Lewis hasn't even played a single snap in the Big Ten yet. But based on what we saw from the junior transfer from Colorado over the course of spring practice, it's safe to say there hasn't been an offensive lineman with Lewis's combination of fire, attitude and talent since maybe Richie Incognito. It didn't take long for Lewis to solidify himself as the No. 1 left tackle, and he and star defensive end Randy Gregory will only continue to make each other better going up against each other every day in practice all year long.
5. Betim Bujari, Rutgers, C, 6-4, 295, Sr.
Rutgers' Betim Bujari is another versatile piece on the interior offensive line who's been asked to play both center and guard, but his true home is in the middle at center. Regarded as one of the top overall linemen in the American Athletic Conference last season, Bujari took home second-team All-AAC honors despite having his streak of 16 straight starts snapped due to injury during the year. With Rutgers having some serious questions at quarterback, Bujari and the o-line will be as important as ever.