Spring Fling: The Offensive Line

Indiana's Jason Spriggs - Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Time for some under-appreciated, but very necessary guys to get some recognition.

My criteria: If I had to pick the offensive line for a B1G all-star team to face the SEC in a battle for permanent conference supremacy and everything that goes with it, who would I start? Unlike other entries in this series, I'll be listing by position, rather than "top 5 in this order", because the 2nd left tackle isn't worth as much as the best left guard unless he is also the best at another position. In addition, I value starts over just playing at the position, and starting the complete season over starting part of the season.

Got all of that? Good. Let's begin at left tackle.

Left Tackle: Jason Spriggs, Indiana

Spriggs was one of the anchors of the Hoosiers line, being one of the two linemen to start every game. He helped keep the Indiana quarterbacks upright, not allowing sacks in 6 of Indiana's games, while keeping up an average of 26 pass attempts per sack. The junior has started every game for the Hoosiers in his career so far, and looks to keep that run going in 2014.

(Backup: Tyler Marz, Wisconsin)

Left Guard: Zac Epping, Minnesota

The redshirt senior started the full season at left guard for the Gophers, and currently holds a 34 game start streak for his career. He was a strong presence on the left side of the line for a Gophers team that well outperformed the expectations of many, and should continue to be so for his final season in Minnesota.

(Backup: Kaleb Johnson, Rutgers)

Center: Brandon Vitabile, Northwestern

A 2013 co-captain of the Wildcats, Vitable has started 38 consecutive games at center. He earned honorable mention All Big Ten honors from both the coaches and the media, and was on the Rimington Award and Outback Trophy preseason watch lists. The senior is likely to garner similar honors with a strong 2014 campaign.

(Backup: Josh Campion, Minnesota)

Right Guard: Kyle Costigan, Wisconsin

Costigan was a 2nd team preseason all Big Ten selection in 2013, and started 12 of 13 games at right guard for the Badgers, with the only non-start being the season opener against UMass. The redshirt senior should continue to be a force to be reckoned with on the line in 2014.

(Backup: Andrew Zeller, Maryland)

Right Tackle: Rob Havenstein, Wisconsin

A 2nd team all Big Ten selection by the coaches and an honorable mention by the media, Havenstein started all 13 games at right tackle for the Badgers in 2013, after starting all 14 games from them at the same position in 2012. The redshirt senior was also a preseason 2nd team selection, suggesting that he is a consistent player and should be very important to the right side of the Badger line in 2014 as well.

(Backup: Ralston Evans, Indiana)

Next Man Up/Honorable Mention: Connor Kruse, Michigan State

Could have cracked the starting 5, if Michigan State had chosen to list a specific position for him. Since they did not, and mentioned that he played all 5 line positions last season, someone of his utility could not in good conscience be left off this list. Hopefully, the junior will have a better defined role in 2014.

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