Because they rarely touch the ball and don't accumulate yards or touchdowns, offensive linemen receive very little of the glory. But if you enjoyed the success that the Horned Frog offense achieved a year ago, you'll be happy to know that four starters return from the line that cleared the way for the NCAA's 5th-leading rushing attack and allowed just 12 sacks all season.
Massive senior Marcus Cannon (6'5", 350) moves from right tackle, where he started in '09, over to the left side to fill the one void left from last year when Marshall Newhouse graduated. Cannon, who is on the watch lists for the Lombardi and Outland trophies, will be a candidate for All-America teams and is likely to join of the parade of Horned Frog offensive linemen who have gone on to play in the NFL. Bookending the offensive line is likely to be junior Jeff Olson (6'4", 282), who originally came to TCU as a tight end. He played in seven games last year, and emerged from spring drills as #1 at right tackle.
Pushing Olson for the job at RT will be senior Zach Roth (6'6", 316), a former JUCO-transfer who was sidelined for most of '09 with a shoulder injury and junior Spencer Thompson (6'4", 305), who appeared in three games last year. Challenging all of the older tackles for playing time and positioning themselves as the tackles of the future are redshirt freshmen John Wooldridge (6'5", 310), a Houston native, and James Dunbar (6'6", 305), one of the much-lauded "Maud Squad".
Moving inside, the Frogs will have both starting guards back in 2010. Junior Kyle Dooley (6'3", 315) has been a starter at left guard since halfway through his redshirt freshman year, and has switched from jersey #72 to #55. On the right side, senior Josh Vernon (6'2", 300) returns for a second year as starter. Sophomore Blaize Foltz (6'4", 310) made two spot starts in relief of Vernon last year, and would probably be the first option if either of the two starters were to go down. Also pushing for playing time at guard will be sophomore Trevius Jones (6'3", 310) and redshirt freshman Ty Horn (6'5", 320).
One of the breakout stars of 2009 was center Jake Kirkpatrick (6'3", 305), who was on a few All-America teams last year and appears on the watch lists for the Outland, Lombardi and Remington Awards for his senior year. Kirkpatrick will join Cannon as a draft pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. The candidates to backup Kirkpatrick will be sophomore James Fry (6'3", 290), redshirt freshman Eric Tausch (6'3", 295) and sophomore Michael Rosner (6'3", 295) a walk-on who played in seven games last year.
The Frogs welcome two true freshmen to the offensive line this year- Nykerin Wellington (6'6", 275) out of San Antonio Holmes (the high school, not the Steelers' wide receiver), who projects as a tackle once he adds weight to his long frame, and Michael Thompson (6'4", 315) out of Farmersville, who projects as a center or a guard.