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2009 Pre-Season All Big 12 Team - Selecting Offensive Linemen

Offensive linemen are the most difficult players to measure on any team, potentially in any sport. They're the only players on a team for which there are no individual statistics. Some teams do track knockdowns, also known as "pancake" blocks - a block in which the opposing player is driven to the ground or flattened - but it's not an official statistic. It makes for great film review and a method of recognizing the player by coaches, but other than that, it's mostly meaningless. 

The problem is that there is no separation between the individual lineman and his unit. If Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray or Nebraska's Roy Helu have a great season rushing the ball, they'll each get more credit for their performance than does their offensive line. You can measure a line unit by the number of sacks given up if you happen to play a pass-happy offense such as Texas Tech, but again, this is a unit statistic, not an individual. 

How then does one go about picking offensive linemen for the 2009 All-Big 12 team? 

I believe that a big part of measuring offensive linemen is in their durability - how many games they've played, and how many of them they've started. It's a brutal position - offensive lineman are huge guys who are constantly beaten and battered by the other huge guys across the line from them. They're going to get injured throughout the season and it takes a true warrior spirit to continue to play despite the injuries that come with the position. 

The Big 12 group here at SB Nation has nominated a number of offensive linemen for consideration for the 2009 pre-season All Big 12 team. The list of nominations is below. What I've done is broken them down by their specific position, their previous honors and the number of starts and games played. 

Player School Notes
JD Walton Baylor Center - 2009 Rimington Award Watch List - 2008 Big 12 HM - 24 Career Starts/Games Played
James Barnard Baylor Guard - 2008 Big 12 HM - 24 Career Starts/Games Played
Nate Solder Colorado Tackle - 10 Career Starts/14 Games Played
Ryan Miller Colorado Tackle - 4 Career Starts/10 Games Played
Jeremiah Hatch Kansas Tackle - 12 Career Starts/Games Played - Sophomore
Nick Stringer Kansas State Tackle - 2008 Big 12 HM - 24 Career Starts/31 Games Played
Kurtis Gregory Missouri Guard - 2008 Second Team Big 12 - 28 Consecutive Games Started/41 Games Played
Elvis Fisher Missouri Tackle - 2008 - 14 Games Started as True Freshman
Dan Hoch Missouri Tackle - 2009 will be first-time starter - 14 Games Played 2008 as true freshman
Tim Barnes Missouri Center - 2008 Big 12 HM - 2009 Rimington Award Watch List - 14 Games Started/20 Games Played
Jacob Hickman Nebraska Center - 2008 Big 12 HM - 2009 Rimington Award Watch List - 23 Games Started/30 Games Played
Mike Smith Nebraska Tackle - 13 Games Started/25 Games Played
Trent Williams Oklahoma Tackle - 2008 First Team Big 12 - 27 Games Started/35 Games Played
Brady Bond Oklahoma State Tackle - 31 Games Started/Games Played
Russell Okung Oklahoma State Tackle - 2008 First Team Big 12 - 34 Games Started/Games Played
Adam Ulatoski Texas Tackle - 2008 First Team Big 12 - 30 Games Started/36 Games Played
Chris Hall Texas Center - 2008 Second Team Big 12 - 2009 Rimington Award Watch List - 23 Games Started/31 Games Played
Charlie Tanner Texas Guard - 2008 Big 12 HM - 19 Games Started/31 Games Played
Kyle Hix Texas Tackle - 14 Games Started/26 Games Played
Brandon Carter Texas Tech Guard - 2008 Big 12 HM - 27 Games Started/38 Games Played
Marlon Winn Texas Tech

Tackle - 2008 Big 12 HM - 21 Games Started/35 Games Played


I'm lead to believe that most lineman are selected by the media because of their reputation, but that reputation also developed because of durability. It's rare that a guy shows as on the first team without first having spent a season getting an honorable mention - the bottom line being that offensive linemen don't have years where they "blow up" like Michael Crabtree did as a true freshman receiver. Again, it goes back to durability, longevity, and the fact that there are no stats.

The following are returning linemen who were selected as first-team All Big 12 linemen in 2008: 

- Trent Williams, Oklahoma

- Russell Okung, Oklahoma State 

- Adam Ulatoski, Texas 

The following are returning linemen who were selected as second-team All Big 12 linemen in 2008:

- Kurtis Gregory, Missouri

- Chris Hall, Texas

The 2009 All-Big 12 pre-season team will be announced soon - both the regular media's selections and our own selections amongst the Big 12 group here at SB Nation. We'll see how the picks end up.

If we're going by what's listed here - here are what we'll get for the All Big 12 First and Second Team Selections:

First Team

Center - Chris Hall, Texas

Guards - Kurtis Gregory, Missouri  ---- Brandon Carter, Texas Tech

Tackles - Russel Okung, Oklahoma State ---- Adam Ulatoski, Texas

Second Team

Center - Jacob Hickman, Nebraska

Guards - James Barnard, Baylor ---- Charlie Tanner, Texas

Tackles - Trent Williams, Oklahoma (although he'll likely repeat at first team) ---- Brady Bond, Oklahoma State