As the season nears, we’ll rank the top five returners at each position group. Today, we give you the offensive linemen.
NOTE: Idaho, who is moving back to the FCS and Big Sky, is eligible for these lists. North Dakota, who plays a Big Sky schedule but is an independent while transitioning to the MVFC, is not.
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The Southern Utah offensive line is loaded this season. Tucker is one of the main guys up front at tackle entering his senior season. The 6-foot-4, 270-pounder started 12 games last season as SUU won a share of the conference title and made the playoffs.
He earned Second Team All-Big Sky honors and was named on the 2018 preseason team.
Blackburn holds down the center spot for an EWU offense that’s among the most explosive in the country. He has started the last 22 games entering his senior season and is going to serve as a co-captain.
At 6-foot-2, 285 pounds, he’s the guy relied on to lead the offensive line unit that keeps All-American quarterback Gage Gubrud on his feet. Blackburn is a two-time All-Big Sky Second Team selection and made our Sophomore All-American team in 2016.
3. Noah Johnson, Idaho
Johnson is going to introduce Big Sky defenses to Idaho football in not-so-nice ways when he takes the field. The 6-foot-4, 300-pound guard is entering his third season starting as a junior.
Johnson has won FBS Sun Belt Conference honors in his first two seasons with All-Newcomer Team in 2016 and Second Team honors last year. The big man enters 2018 on the preseason Big Sky All-Conference team.
Larsen racked up the awards last season after starting all 12 games at center on SUU’s offensive line. He was a STATS and Phil Steele All-American and also named on HERO Sports' Sophomore All-American Team.
Larsen, listed at 6-foot-1 and 300 pounds, added All-Big Sky First Team honors. His accolades haven’t stopped, as he’s been named a preseason All-Conference player and is on our preseason All-American Second Team.
Opeta is the second preseason HERO Sports All-American Second Team member from the Big Sky. After starting four games at defensive tackle in 2015 as a freshman, Opeta moved to the offensive side and has become a force since. He started 12 games as a sophomore and earned All-Conference Honorable Mention honors.
Last year, Opeta started all 14 games and earned AP Third Team All-American and All-Big Sky First Team nods. The 6-foot-4, 305-pound tackle is named on the preseason All-Conference team.