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Next Big Thing: Offensive Line

The big fellas need a bounceback year. Which new faces could help make that difference?

NCAA Football: Purdue at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

If there is one position where being the “next big thing” takes on a literal meaning, it is on the offensive line. The guys up front set the tone for the team offensively and the lack of consistency last year was a big reason the offense was never able to find a groove last year. This season, while there isn’t a ton of experience up front, there may be some surprising depth.

Outside of Brian Allen at center, pretty much every other starting job on the offensive line was up for grabs this spring. It looks like the guard spots will be manned by some of the guys with a little more experience, while it might be a youth movement at the tackle spot.

And it is at the tackle spot where I have chosen my candidate for next big thing on the offensive line. Red-shirt freshman Luke Campbell out of Ohio appears to have taken control of the battle for right tackle following the spring season.

Tackle is a spot that saw the departures of Kodi Kieler and Miguel Machado to graduation, as well as Thiyo Lukusa walking away from the game. That opened the door for someone to grab a starting role, and Campbell has been that someone.

At 6-5 and now 300 pounds according to Mark Dantonio, Campbell certainly fits the bill physically to be the next big thing. But his coach also praised his toughness and athleticism following the spring game.

Campbell was ranked in the top-40 offensive tackles by Scout coming out of high school, so he comes in as a solid recruit. He was originally a Purdue commit, but switched to Michigan State late in the process and red-shirted as a freshman.

When the Spartans have had success from their offensive line lately, it has been when the group has been able to gel together and have a consistent group and rotation. That type of bond is usually built over time. After somewhat of a patchwork job last year, this new crop of O-linemen have a chance to play at least a couple seasons together, with two sophomores, a junior, and possibly a red-shirt freshman projected as starters. While there are likely to be some growing pains, this group could be dominant over the next couple of years in East Lansing.

Luke Campbell has a chance to be a part of a very young and promising tackle group. Anyone that gets the attention of the MSU coaching staff as a red-shirt freshman must be doing something right. Hearing words like intense and physical to describe him only adds fuel to that fire. Young players are prone to mistakes, and I am sure Campbell will make a few along the way. But if he can play with the same level of confidence that the coaching staff seems to have in him, that will go a long way towards helping him solidify the right tackle position for Michigan State for the next several years.