Ranking the top 20 returning offensive linemen in the SEC

College football has changed quite a bit over the years, but one fact remains unchanged. You need good offensive linemen to win big in this sport.

Georgia and Alabama have won national titles behind an offensive line filled with future NFL players. LSU’s national title-winning team in 2019 featured an offensive line that won the Joe Moore Award.

The most recent title game, with Michigan and Washington, featured two offensive lines that were finalists for the Joe Moore Award.

The bottom line is you need to be good in the trenches to win.

Here, we’ll be taking a look at the best returning offensive linemen in the SEC.

Will Campbell, T, LSU

Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Campbell took over LSU’s left tackle position as a true freshmen in 2022 and never looked back. The former five-star recruit looked like he belonged in the SEC the moment he stepped on the field.

As a freshmen, he made the coaches’ all-conference second-team. In 2023, he was first-team all-conference.

Campbell didn’t allow a sack all year in 2023 and was the second best graded tackle in the SEC, according to PFF.

He’s already playing at an elite level, and we still don’t know what the ceiling looks like. Expect Campbell to be one of the top players in the 2025 NFL Draft.

Kelvin Banks, T, Texas

Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Banks followed a similar path to Campbell. He was a five-star recruit that was ready to play right away.

In 2022, he allowed just one QB hit as a true-freshman. Last year, Banks was again one of the best pass protectors in the country, helping lead Texas to a College Football Playoff appearance.

Banks was first-team All-Big 12 in 2023 and he has a good chance of earning the same honor in the SEC.

Emery Jones, T, LSU

(Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
(Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Jones wasn’t a five-star like some of the other guys atop this list, but that didn’t stop him from making waves as a true-freshmen.

LSU’s offensive line struggled early in 2022. That’s when Brian Kelly turned to Jones at right tackle. There were some growing pains, but Jones began to settle in.

In 2023, Jones took another step and was one of the best run-blocking tackles in the country. There’s still room to grow, and if he continues to progress as a pass blocker, he’ll be one of the best players in the country.

Jones likely projects as a guard in the NFL, but he’ll be a good one.

Tate Ratledge, G, Georgia

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Ratledge is our first guard to make the list. He passed up the NFL draft, electing to return to school for a fifth-year.

According to PFF, Ratledge was the top graded pass-blocker in the SEC last year. Not just among guards, but among the entire offensive line.

He was first-team All-SEC last year and that’s where he should be again in 2024.

With Ratledge leading the way, UGA is set to have one of the most dominant interior offensive lines in the country.

Armand Membou, T, Missouri

Missouri is losing an elite tackle with Javon Foster on his way out, but the Tigers return another solid player in Membou.

He doesn’t have the same size other tackles on this list do, but he’s been one of the best pass blockers in the conference since he made his debut in 2022.

In the clip above, you’ll see he has the explosiveness to get down field and block in the run game too.

He was listed as an interior offensive linemen as a recruit, but Missouri has done a good job developing here.

Marques Cox, T, Kentucky

Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports
Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Cox will be entering his sixth year of college football, making him one of the most experienced players on this list.

He began his career at Northern Illinois before transferring to Kentucky last year, but he has over 3,000 career offensive snaps under his belt.

Cox was a top-10 tackle in the SEC last year despite coming off an injury that cut his 2022 season short. Getting Cox back was big for the Kentucky offensive line and this is a position where experience matters.

The veteran has a chance to push for all-conference honors this fall.

Trey Zuhn, T, Texas A&M

Texas A&M has had some roster turnover the last couple of years, but tackle Trey Zuhn has remained a consistent piece.

He’ll return for a fourth year in 2024, helping get the Mike Elko underway.

The Aggies offensive line was iffy last year, but that blame can’t be placed on Zuhn. He was one of the best pass blockers in the country and impressed against strong competition.

At 6-foot-7, he has the size to go to the next level. He’ll look to put it all together and take another step this year, but A&M is in a good spot at left tackle.

Dylan Fairchild, G, UGA

You can always expect a few Georgia offensive linemen to be on these lists and we have another one with guard Dylan Fairchild.

Fairchild was one of the best all-around offensive linemen in the country last year, but like his UGA guard counterpart Ratledge, he excelled pass blocking. He didn’t allow a sack all year.

With Ratledge and Fairchild on the interior, defenses will need a good set of defensive tackles to defend Georgia.

Jaeden Roberts, G, Alabama

The Alabama line wasn’t as good as fans have become accustomed to in 2023, but the Tide were solid at the guard spot.

Roberts’ was PFF’s top graded guard in 2023 and he’ll be back for more in 2024.

A top 300 recruit in the class of 2021, Roberts saw his first-real playing time in 2023, taking over as a starter in week six. He made the most of it, playing some of his best games against Bama’s toughest opponents.

The Crimson Tide are undergoing plenty of change with Nick Saban retiring and Kalen DeBoer taking over, but continuity on the interior offensive line will help.

Garrett Dellinger, G, LSU

Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Dellinger is another guy who has been playing since he was a true-freshmen.

Positionally, he bounced around a good bit, even trying his hand at center. In 2023, he settled into LSU’s left guard spot and was one of the best in the SEC.

He was one of the top interior pass blockers in the conference, allowing just one sack in nearly 500 pass pro snaps.

He’ll return alongside Campbell in 2024, and together, they’ll form one of the best tackle-guard combos in the nation.

Jake Majors, C, Texas

Jake Majors comes in as our top center after a terrific 2023.

Few centers have the experience Majors has after taking over the starting job in 2021. Having a guy like this up the middle should help Texas make that transition to facing SEC fronts.

According to PFF, Majors was the top-graded pass-blocking center on teams set to compete in the SEC this fall.

With Banks at left tackle and Majors at center, the Texas offensive line remains in a good spot despite losing some solid pieces.

Tyler Booker, G, Alabama

Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

Booker is the second Alabama guard to make this list as the former five-star recruit enters his junior year.

He saw a good amount of time as a freshmen in 2022, but took over the starting left guard spot last year.

According to PFF, only four guards in the SEC posted run blocking and pass blocking grades above 70. Booker was one of them, making him one of the best all-around offensive linemen in the conference.

He struggled against Michigan, allowing four pressures, but with his size and talent, he’s sure to draw NFL attention next spring.

Earnest Greene, T, Georgia

Greene saw his first college action as a redshirt freshmen in 2023, giving him less experience than some other players on this list. But he’s a former top 50 recruit and could be just one step from putting it all together.

ESPN’s Matt Miller listed Greene as a sleeper for the 2025 NFL Draft. Given Greene’s talent with Georgia’s recent offensive tackle production, there are high hopes.

Greene started every game at left tackle for UGA in 2023, allowing just one sack in 14 contests.

It’s rare for an offensive tackle to jump off the screen, but that’s exactly what Greene does in the clip above, showcasing a rare blend of speed and power.

Austin Barber, T, Florida

Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Barber was one of the top graded tackles in the SEC as a redshirt freshmen in 2022. According to PFF, Barber posted the best run block grade among SEC tackles as he landed on the freshmen All-American team.

He didn’t post the same numbers in 2023 as he grappled with an upper body injury, but he’s shown he can play at a high-level in this league.

Barber was just a three-star recruit in 2021, but this is a case where development paid off.

He’ll look to return healthy in 2024 and once again be one of the SEC’s top tackles.

Jake Slaughter, C, Florida

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

We’ll stick with Florida here but move to the interior to take a look at center Jake Slaughter.

Slaughter wasn’t originally slated to be Florida’s starting center, but he ended up as the second-best graded center in the conference, per PFF.

He has just 597 career snaps, but he played some of his best games against UF’s toughest opponents and didn’t allow a single sack after week one.

The Gators will count on Slaughter to be a key piece in 2024 as they face a tough SEC schedule.

Xavier Truss, T, Georgia

Online Athens
Online Athens

Truss first got to Athens in 2019 and he’ll be back for a sixth year in 2024.

At 6-foot-7, Truss is a force. He had some rough moments in pass protection last year, allowing 22 pressures, but he was good enough to earn all-conference honors.

From 2020-22, he didn’t allow a single sack in over 1,000 snaps. That’s what he’ll look to get back to in 2024.

There’s a chance Truss ends up a lot better than the 16th-best linemen in the SEC, but for now he has room to grow when it comes to protecting the passer.

Cam'Ron Johnson, G, Missouri

Missouri showcased one of the best run games in the SEC last year. The work Johnson did on the interior was a big part of that.

As demonstrated in the above clip against Ohio State, Johnson is an elite run blocker. He struggled in pass protection at times, but he more than made up for it in the run game.

Johnson transferred to Missouri from Houston last year, and 2023 was just his first year in the SEC. Now with a year of experience under his belt, Johnson could take another jump in 2024.

Miles Frazier, G, LSU

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

It got difficult to separate the guards at this point. There isn’t a big difference between Johnson, Frazier, or the few players that will come next.

Frazier is a former offensive tackle that transferred to LSU from FIU prior to 2022. He settled into a guard spot last year and the skills that allowed him to play offensive tackle were on full display.

Frazier’s pass blocking grade ranked third among SEC guards, only behind UGA’s Ratledge and Fairchild.

He was a freshmen All-American at FIU in 2021 and has been a key piece of LSU’s rebuild on the offensive line.

Javontez Spraggins, G, Tennessee

The Knoxville News-Sentinel
The Knoxville News-Sentinel

Tennessee is set to have one of the most experienced lines in the SEC this fall. Spraggins will be one of several seniors up front for Tennessee.

Spraggins has over 2,500 career offensive snaps under his belt but had a career year in 2023.

He was a factor in the run game and the pass game for the Vols. At 6-foot-3 he isn’t the biggest guy, but he’s proven himself as a plus player in the SEC.

With a young QB taking over the offense, having a veteran OL will be an advantage for Tennessee in 2024.

Josh Braun, G, Arkansas

Experienced guards are becoming a theme as we close out this list.

Braun began his career at Florida before transferring to Arkansas last year. Not a lot went right for the Razorback offense in 2023, but Braun was a bright spot.

Braun earned All-SEC honors for his work and will look to do it again in 2024.

Story originally appeared on LSU Tigers Wire