The Spartans have once again another talented unit on their hands as we look to the offensive line. They will only have two linemen missing in action this year, which are former Spartans Connor Kruse and Travis Jackson. Kruse was a former walk-on turned starter, as he saw action in 38 career games. Kruse's consistency and work ethic landed him nine starts in 2014 as a senior. Travis Jackson is another big man we will miss in the trenches as the 2013 Rimington Trophy watch list player started in 30 games as a center, right guard, and left guard. Jackson was also a four-year letter winner who played in 40 career games, earning himself second-team All-Big Ten (coaches choice) in 2014. With these two gone it may seem like Michigan State will have to play limbo with who will go where, but with a talented offensive line the pieces have already been put in place.
In my opinion this was the most difficult question to answer...who are the Spartans top returners? The matter isn't I couldn't find any it was more that I found too many. The Spartans whole O-line has started/played in 10+ games throughout their careers. To start it off the general of this offensive line is fifth-year senior Jack Allen.
Allen has been the foundation of this offensive line, starting at center for 30 career games (five at left guard). Allen was named first-team All-American by USA Today, first-team All-Big Ten selection, and one of six finalists for the Rimington Trophy. Arguably one of the best centers in the nation, he also brings versatility, being able to play multiple positions on the line. What I like about Allen is he really gets after the defense and plays intelligent football. With Allen leading a group of strong, smart, and talented offensive linemen watch and observe how the other guys will follow his lead.
Allen's left hand man (literally) will be second-team All-Big Ten selection Jack Conklin. Conklin has started 23 consecutive games for the Spartans at left tackle and has been one of the most consistent linemen over the years. Entering his junior year, Conklin has been named on the Outland Trophy and Lombardi award watch lists for his outstanding game play. Conklin led the team in 2014 with 113.5 knockdowns and was a very instrumental piece in the Spartans record breaking performance on the ground. Conklin will have another year to improve his numbers as a junior, and most importantly playing a vital role in winning a Big Ten championship.
Playing right between Allen and Conklin, is freshman All-American Brian Allen who came onto the scene and played a great amount of football as a freshman. Brian is the big mini-me of his brother Jack, who saw action in 12 games last year for the Spartans. He will be replacing Travis Jackson at the left guard position, but don't expect there to be a drop off. Despite Allen only entering his second year, if you put the film on you'll see why he was an All-American last season.
Junior college transfer Miguel Machado will provide depth as a right tackle in his 2015 campaign. Entering his second year with the Spartans, Machado is a big body and very talented, standing at 6'6 298lbs makes it hard for ends and backers to get around. Machado was listed as one of the top offensive lineman in the nation coming out of junior college (No.16) by ESPN. Expect him to see some action in the rotation this year as the Spartans progress through the season.
This offensive line will provide plenty of protection for Connor Cook and a group of talented running backs, giving the Spartans a balanced offensive attack. The whole line has plenty of experience and will be one of the top o-lines in the nation if they maintain their health this year. Expect the ground game to be an even bigger threat and Cook to get the ball to his receivers comfortably in the pocket.