By Jordan Burton (@thejordanburton)
Who are some of the top football linemen to watch heading into this season? Find our top eight below. We have watch lists for quarterbacks, running backs, receivers and defensive players. A player who plays multiple positions may be on another list.
This list also appears in the O-Zone Fall Preview Magazine featuring more names. The magazine is available at all area Casey’s General Stores. CLICK HERE FOR A FULL LIST OF ADVERTISER LOCATIONS WHERE THE MAGAZINE IS AVAILABLE.
*This list is in alphabetical order.
Malik Culp, Lebanon, Senior
His Twitter handle is @KING_CULP which is fitting, because the senior stands at 6-foot-3, 270lbs. He has a ton of nastiness to his game. He can pass protect, but his strength is in the run game where he’s a bulldozer. Maybe his best attribute is his athleticism, which allows him to pull and reach the second level. He’s been on visits to Mizzou and Wyoming. This is a D-I kid.
Peyton Denney, Nevada, Senior
He’s one of the smaller linemen on this list, but leverage and pure desire make that irrelevant. Denney, also a standout wrestler, subscribes to the theory that the low man wins, which has helped make him an impact two-way lineman. Nevada joining the Big 8 Conference will give southwest Missouri a chance to see the all-stater at work.
Caleb Gouge, Lamar, Senior
Lamar is known for its seven-straight state championships, but maybe the biggest reason behind why is Scott Bailey’s ability to churn out linemen. Austin Boice, Sam Bailey, Ben Bailey and company are just some of the names. Gouge is up next. At 6-foot-5, 300lbs he has Division I size. He’s had FBS and FCS programs recruiting him, mainly because of how great he is in the run game.
Justin Miller, Reeds Spring, Senior
Miller is just a different breed. He has no problem providing lane-clearing, devastating blocks, but you’ll also see him sprinting to the end zone on the hip of his back just to make sure everything is good. That mean streak is the reason he’s an All-COC selection. At 6-foot-4, 280lbs, he has the tools to play at an extremely high level. He’s also part of the reason Reeds Spring averaged nearly eight yards per carry.
DOWNLOAD THE O-ZONE APP NOW!
Andrew Raney, Carthage, Senior
The pop he has off the ball is unreal. At 6-foot-1, 330lbs, he’s a ball of mass that moves people at the point of attack. Even more impressive, Raney is a two-way player who commands double teams defensively and routinely pancakes people offensively. Several D-II’s and some D-I’s have shown interest. He’s a major reason why Carthage’s linebackers make so many plays.
Tyler Smith, Joplin, Senior
Smith is the kind of kid who will pancake someone on a play, hold them down and pick them back up and place them on their feet when the whistle blows, as if they’re a toddler. The 6-foot-5, 270lb tackle is yet another Division I prospect, with offers from Central Arkansas, South Dakota State, Southern Illinois, Missouri State and Western Illinois. Don’t be surprised to see FBS programs get involved.
Wallace Squibb, Catholic, Senior
If you’ve seen him play basketball, then you know he’s a legitimate athlete who just happens to be huge. At 6-foot-5, 270lbs, he has an insane amount of versatility, which allows him to play any spot along the offensive or defensive front. I love his motor defensively, consistently beating double teams to make plays. Cornell, Brown and Missouri S&T are just some of the programs that have offered.
Jake Swope, West Plains, Senior
Swope already has earned offers from Western Illinois, Southern Illinois and Southeast Missouri State. But, the reason the senior tackle is gaining Division I interest is because his 6-foot-7, 260lb frame, long arms and great feet. He’ll be yet another D-I West Plains lineman.