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Career OL Starts Returning and % of Lettermen Returning

Today’s blog starts my in-depth look at my New and Improved Experience Chart. For 7 years I had listed an experience chart, which broke down the number of seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshmen each team had in the two deep and rated the teams experience level with a formula I devised. In 2009, I made the experience chart FIVE TIMES better. Today I will look at the number of career starts returning for offensive lineman and the % of lettermen returning.

When most folks judge a team for the upcoming season they look at the QB, RB and WR’s that are returning. A few may take the time to look at star defensive players that are back (those with a lot of sacks or interceptions). However, very few look at the offensive line and yet the team that controls the line of scrimmage wins the game more often than not.

This year SMU returns six players who have been full-time starters at some point in their career and as a unit returns 158 career starts. The Mustangs are led by 1st Tm All-CUSA OT Kelvin Beachum. They also have OC Blake McJunkin and OT JT Brooks who were both HM CUSA LY. Together they paved the way for RB Zach Line to have one of the best rushing performances in SMU history.

Northwestern comes in at #2 on the list with 137 career starts and are led by All-Big 10 candidates in OT Al Netter and OC Ben Burkett who is a 3-year starter.

Arizona is at the bottom of the list with 1 career starts back which obviously makes their OL my biggest concern on a team that has the ability to make a 4th straight bowl game this year.

Now experience on the O-line is not the only criteria for an offensive line’s potential for the next year. You have to add in the Blue Chips, how last year’s line performed (ypc rushing and sacks allowed), size, etc. That is how a team like Oklahoma St can be just #48 in career starts returning but rated as my #3 OL this year.

OL Career Starts Returning

Rk
Team
OL Career Sts
Rk
Team
OL Career Sts
1
SMU
158
60
Vanderbilt
68
2
Northwestern
137
62
Washington
65
3
Clemson
118
63
E Michigan
64
3
UAB
118
63
Nevada
64
5
Tulsa
116
65
Marshall
63
5
Northern Illinois
116
65
Notre Dame
63
7
Florida St
115
65
Bowling Green
63
8
Temple
111
65
Utah
63
9
Rice
109
69
USF
62
10
BYU
107
69
Tulane
62
11
Missouri
105
69
Colorado St
62
12
Middle Tenn
104
72
Navy
61
13
Virginia Tech
98
72
Idaho
61
13
Miami Oh
98
74
NC State
60
13
Boise St
98
74
N Carolina
60
13
New Mexico St
98
74
Minnesota
60
17
Kansas
97
77
Iowa
59
17
Colorado
97
77
North Texas
59
19
Ball St
96
77
FAU
59
20
ULM
94
80
Buffalo
58
21
West Virginia
92
81
Syracuse
57
22
Oregon St
91
81
Michigan St
57
23
Alabama
90
83
Oregon
56
23
Utah St
90
84
Iowa St
54
25
Rutgers
89
84
Troy
54
25
Kent St
89
86
Pittsburgh
53
27
UCF
87
87
Penn St
52
28
Texas A&M
86
87
Houston
52
28
Georgia
86
89
Boston College
50
30
Toledo
85
89
W Michigan
50
30
California
85
89
Stanford
50
32
Arizona St
84
89
Tennessee
50
33
Texas Tech
83
89
FIU
50
33
San Diego St
83
94
Akron
49
35
Virginia
82
94
Arkansas
49
36
Oklahoma
81
96
Louisiana Tech
46
37
UCLA
80
97
Kansas St
42
37
Miss St
80
98
Air Force
41
37
San Jose St
80
99
Nebraska
40
40
Purdue
79
99
Fresno St
40
41
Wyoming
78
101
Cincinnati
39
41
LSU
78
101
Southern Miss
39
43
Duke
77
101
Ohio
39
43
Ohio St
77
104
Georgia Tech
38
43
Baylor
77
105
Texas
36
43
Kentucky
77
105
UNLV
36
43
Mississippi
77
105
TCU
36
48
Oklahoma St
76
108
Memphis
34
49
Miami Fl
74
109
Arkansas St
28
49
Wisconsin
74
109
Louisiana
28
51
Maryland
73
111
E Carolina
27
52
Connecticut
72
111
USC
27
53
Indiana
71
111
Florida
27
53
Washington St
71
114
Louisville
25
53
WKU
71
115
Army
21
56
Michigan
70
115
Hawaii
21
56
S Carolina
70
117
New Mexico
20
58
Illinois
69
118
Auburn
15
58
C Michigan
69
119
UTEP
7
60
Wake Forest
68
120
Arizona
1

Last year I went back and looked at percentages of lettermen returning and lost. Using percentages is more reliable than the amount of returning or lost lettermen because schools give out letters in different manners. Some schools hand out a lot of letters and others far fewer. Getting a letter at Syracuse under Paul Pasqualoni was tough, as he handed out just 38 total letters in 2004 and 40 in 2003. This year the low’s went to Nevada with 46 while NC State and Florida Atlantic had 48 each. Nebraska in 2001 handed out 82 letters or over double what Syracuse was giving out. It was also the most given out by any school in the previous 6 years. In 2007, Ohio broke all records with an amazing 91 letters given out while Hawaii had 90! Last year Ohio was at the top again with 81 and Michigan had 80.

% of Lettermen Returning

Rk
Team
% LTR
Return
Rk
Team
% LTR
Return
1
Toledo
84.75%
61
Penn St
70.31%
2
SMU
83.08%
62
Baylor
70.27%
3
Florida St
80.65%
63
Colorado
69.86%
4
Tulsa
80.60%
64
Oklahoma St
69.81%
5
Texas A&M
80.26%
65
New Mexico
69.49%
6
Northwestern
80.00%
66
Virginia
69.35%
7
WKU
79.66%
66
N Carolina
69.35%
8
Missouri
79.37%
68
Washington St
69.12%
9
BYU
79.22%
69
Fresno St
69.09%
10
Wisconsin
78.87%
70
Troy
69.01%
11
Purdue
78.48%
71
C Michigan
68.85%
12
ULM
78.33%
72
Oregon St
68.83%
13
Alabama
77.94%
72
North Texas
68.83%
14
Vanderbilt
77.78%
74
Michigan
68.75%
15
Temple
77.42%
75
Wyoming
68.52%
16
Boise St
77.33%
76
E Carolina
68.49%
16
Air Force
77.33%
76
Florida
68.49%
18
Ball St
76.81%
78
Kansas St
68.18%
18
Michigan St
76.81%
79
Nebraska
67.95%
20
FIU
76.56%
80
Pittsburgh
67.69%
21
Idaho
75.81%
80
Arizona
67.69%
22
Arizona St
75.71%
82
UCF
67.65%
23
San Jose St
75.38%
83
Indiana
67.61%
24
Houston
75.36%
83
Oregon
67.61%
25
San Diego St
75.00%
85
Notre Dame
67.57%
25
Oklahoma
75.00%
86
Connecticut
67.35%
25
E Michigan
75.00%
87
Rutgers
67.27%
25
USF
75.00%
88
West Virginia
67.21%
29
Arkansas St
74.67%
88
Syracuse
67.21%
30
Rice
74.65%
90
Virginia Tech
67.16%
31
Middle Tenn
74.63%
91
Bowling Green
66.67%
32
Stanford
74.36%
91
Utah
66.67%
33
Miami Florida
74.19%
91
La Tech
66.67%
34
Wake Forest
74.03%
94
Ohio St
66.22%
35
Cincinnati
73.91%
95
N Illinois
66.20%
36
Kent St
73.33%
96
Clemson
65.71%
37
California
73.13%
96
Utah St
65.71%
38
Tennessee
73.02%
96
Marshall
65.71%
39
LSU
72.97%
96
Georgia Tech
65.71%
40
Duke
72.88%
100
Mississippi
65.28%
41
Washington
72.73%
100
Maryland
65.28%
42
Kentucky
72.60%
102
Iowa St
64.91%
43
New Mexico St
72.58%
103
Miss St
64.71%
44
Minnesota
72.55%
103
UTEP
64.71%
45
Buffalo
72.46%
105
Georgia
64.29%
46
Illinois
72.41%
106
Louisiana
64.18%
47
Tulane
72.22%
107
UAB
63.49%
48
W Michigan
72.13%
108
TCU
63.38%
49
Nevada
71.74%
109
Kansas
63.08%
50
UNLV
71.62%
110
USC
62.90%
51
Southern Miss
71.43%
111
FAU
62.50%
52
Texas Tech
71.23%
112
Army
62.12%
53
Boston College
71.19%
113
Hawaii
62.03%
54
Texas
71.01%
114
Louisville
60.71%
55
Miami Oh
70.83%
115
NC State
60.42%
55
UCLA
70.83%
116
Akron
59.26%
57
Arkansas
70.67%
117
Navy
59.09%
58
S Carolina
70.59%
118
Iowa
57.58%
58
Colorado St
70.59%
119
Memphis
56.52%
60
Ohio
70.37%
120
Auburn
55.07%

Toledo is #1 here in % of lettermen returning with 50 of 59 players back (84.75%). SMU is #2 with 54 out of 65 lettermen returning (83.1%). At the bottom of the rankings is defending national champ Auburn who returns just 55.1% of their lettermen and loses an incredible 31 lettermen. At #119 is Memphis who returns just 39 out of 69 lettermen from last year (56.5%). #118 is Iowa who lost a lot of key players and returns just 57.6% from last year.

Please check PhilSteele.com everyday to get my Top 30 Countdown which continued yesterday with #14 South Carolina. Every day now thru June 15th, I will post both magazine pages on each team that day and you can get an early look on how I breakdown your favorite team. Remember I will make those magazine pages available for only 24 hours for you to download. Today Arkansas comes in at #13.

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