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Published: June 15, 2015 at 02:35 p.m.
Updated: June 16, 2015 at 12:35 p.m.

15 for '15: College football's biggest players

» Complete 15 for '15 series

Suffice to say, college football players aren't getting any smaller. CFB 24/7 brings you up close with 15 of the game's biggest returning players, ranging from those on championship-contending teams in the Power Five conferences to a giant making his way through a Conference USA career. Some spin the scale, some measure NBA-tall, and a few do both. Naturally, most are offensive linemen, but one is a -- gulp -- tight end. Most are starters or at least projected to start this fall, though a few are still looking to crack the lineup.

15 Photos Total

  • <b>Size</b>: 6-8, 420
<br><b>Buzz</b>: Clements came to Purdue from Arizona Mesa Community College, but didn't make a start in his first season in the Boilermakers program last year. Purdue returns all five starters from last year's offensive line for 2015, so while Clements is big, his role probably won't be. 15

    Sandra Dukes/USA Today

    15. Corey Clements, OL, Purdue

    Size: 6-8, 420
    Buzz: Clements came to Purdue from Arizona Mesa Community College, but didn't make a start in his first season in the Boilermakers program last year. Purdue returns all five starters from last year's offensive line for 2015, so while Clements is big, his role probably won't be.

  • <b>Size</b>: 6-6, 370
<br><b>Buzz</b>: Make room for the only player listed here who doesn't play in a Power Five conference. Burns didn't begin last season in the starting lineup, but that's where he finished it with four late-season starts. He'll look to hold onto the role this fall as a fifth-year senior offensive tackle. Prior to joining the Conference USA Monarchs, he played guard at Cerritos College. 14

    Bryan Gayoso/Old Dominion University

    14. Tyler Burns, OL, Old Dominion

    Size: 6-6, 370
    Buzz: Make room for the only player listed here who doesn't play in a Power Five conference. Burns didn't begin last season in the starting lineup, but that's where he finished it with four late-season starts. He'll look to hold onto the role this fall as a fifth-year senior offensive tackle. Prior to joining the Conference USA Monarchs, he played guard at Cerritos College.

  • <b>Size</b>: 6-7, 365
<br><b>Buzz</b>: It looks like Devine is written into the starting lineup at right guard in soft pencil. He is undoubtedly the best available talent for the role, but conditioning is a concern and he was 30-plus pounds north of his goal weight (335) after spring practice. A concussion rendered spring drills something of a wash for Devine, a youngster who still has three more years of NCAA eligibility. 13

    Danny Karnik/GT Athletics

    13.Shamire Devine, OL, Georgia Tech

    Size: 6-7, 365
    Buzz: It looks like Devine is written into the starting lineup at right guard in soft pencil. He is undoubtedly the best available talent for the role, but conditioning is a concern and he was 30-plus pounds north of his goal weight (335) after spring practice. A concussion rendered spring drills something of a wash for Devine, a youngster who still has three more years of NCAA eligibility.

  • <b>Size</b>: 6-8, 330
<br><b>Buzz</b>: Robinson missed his senior season last year when he tore an ACL in preseason practice, but thanks to a sixth year of eligibility granted by the NCAA, he's back for one more season. Robinson competed in spring drills, but has a battle on his hands if he hopes to leave his days as a career reserve and crack the Bulldogs' starting lineup. In a worst-case scenario, he should at least be MSU's "swing" tackle as the top backup at both spots. 12

    Rogelio V. Solis/Associated Pres

    12. Damien Robinson, OL, Mississippi State

    Size: 6-8, 330
    Buzz: Robinson missed his senior season last year when he tore an ACL in preseason practice, but thanks to a sixth year of eligibility granted by the NCAA, he's back for one more season. Robinson competed in spring drills, but has a battle on his hands if he hopes to leave his days as a career reserve and crack the Bulldogs' starting lineup. In a worst-case scenario, he should at least be MSU's "swing" tackle as the top backup at both spots.

  • <b>Size</b>: 6-8, 355
<br><b>Buzz</b>: The son of <a href="http://www.nfl.com/player/orlandobrown/2499861/profile" target="new">the late former NFL offensive lineman</a> of the same name, Brown's college career began a little late and a little slow. He didn't qualify academically until late July, which prevented him from enrolling and working out earlier in the summer with other Sooners signees. Ultimately, he redshirted last season and isn't projected to start this year, either. But with three new faces in the lineup, he should have a much better chance of seeing action as a reserve. 11

    Kevin Jairaj/USA Today

    11.Orlando Brown Jr., OL, Oklahoma

    Size: 6-8, 355
    Buzz: The son of the late former NFL offensive lineman of the same name, Brown's college career began a little late and a little slow. He didn't qualify academically until late July, which prevented him from enrolling and working out earlier in the summer with other Sooners signees. Ultimately, he redshirted last season and isn't projected to start this year, either. But with three new faces in the lineup, he should have a much better chance of seeing action as a reserve.

  • <b>Size</b>: 6-8, 322
<br><b>Buzz</b>: It's not a certainty that Odogwu will break into the starting lineup this fall, as the Hurricanes will get a better look in August at a couple of line candidates who weren't fully healthy in the spring.  But whether it be on the right side or the left, Odogwu is a good bet to notch his first career start when UM opens the season against Bethune-Cookman on Sept. 5. Only a third-year sophomore, the Nigerian-born Odogwu has more than enough length and agility to command the left side against the opposition's top pass rushers. 10

    JC Ridley/Miami Athletics

    10.Sunny Odogwu, OL, Miami

    Size: 6-8, 322
    Buzz: It's not a certainty that Odogwu will break into the starting lineup this fall, as the Hurricanes will get a better look in August at a couple of line candidates who weren't fully healthy in the spring. But whether it be on the right side or the left, Odogwu is a good bet to notch his first career start when UM opens the season against Bethune-Cookman on Sept. 5. Only a third-year sophomore, the Nigerian-born Odogwu has more than enough length and agility to command the left side against the opposition's top pass rushers.

  • <b>Size</b>: 6-9, 313
<br><b>Buzz</b>: How big is South Carolina up front? Well, Zandi makes two consecutive years that a Gamecocks lineman <a href="http://www.nfl.com/photoessays/0ap2000000359983"  target="new">has made this list</a>, and neither of them has been massive right tackle Brandon Shell (6-6, 327, and nephew of <a href="http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.aspx?PLAYER_ID=193" target="new">Pro Football Hall of Fame guard Art Shell</a>). Zandi is set to fill the shoes of another SEC giant from last year, 340-pound Corey Robinson, who was a seventh-round draft pick of the Detroit Lions.  Zandi has logged only one career start, but he is expected to start at left tackle this fall as South Carolina looks to rebound from a dismal season. 9

    Jeff Blake/USA Today

    9. Mason Zandi, OL, South Carolina

    Size: 6-9, 313
    Buzz: How big is South Carolina up front? Well, Zandi makes two consecutive years that a Gamecocks lineman has made this list, and neither of them has been massive right tackle Brandon Shell (6-6, 327, and nephew of Pro Football Hall of Fame guard Art Shell). Zandi is set to fill the shoes of another SEC giant from last year, 340-pound Corey Robinson, who was a seventh-round draft pick of the Detroit Lions. Zandi has logged only one career start, but he is expected to start at left tackle this fall as South Carolina looks to rebound from a dismal season.

  • <b>Size</b>: 6-2, 397
<br><b>Buzz</b>: Forget about trying to move Latu off the line of scrimmage on power running plays. Unfortunately, playing in the Pac-12, Latu isn't well suited to defend the prolific passing attacks around the league. Latu made just eight tackles last year in a reserve role, but is looking to be more of a factor on early downs. Now in his fifth year in the program, it's a now-or-never season for the heaviest player in the conference if he's going to make a bigger impact. 8

    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    8. Mo Latu, DL, Arizona State

    Size: 6-2, 397
    Buzz: Forget about trying to move Latu off the line of scrimmage on power running plays. Unfortunately, playing in the Pac-12, Latu isn't well suited to defend the prolific passing attacks around the league. Latu made just eight tackles last year in a reserve role, but is looking to be more of a factor on early downs. Now in his fifth year in the program, it's a now-or-never season for the heaviest player in the conference if he's going to make a bigger impact.

  • <b>Size</b>: 6-7, 365
<br><b>Buzz</b>: Expectations were high for Elam last year as a freshman, probably too high. He appeared in 12 games, but made just 10 tackles in a backup role at nose guard. Although it remains to be seen if he's a starter -- his stamina is, of course, a question -- but Elam made steady improvement in the spring and will at least play more of a role this year as a rotating substitute. 7

    David Stephenson/Associated Pres

    7. Matt Elam, DL, Kentucky

    Size: 6-7, 365
    Buzz: Expectations were high for Elam last year as a freshman, probably too high. He appeared in 12 games, but made just 10 tackles in a backup role at nose guard. Although it remains to be seen if he's a starter -- his stamina is, of course, a question -- but Elam made steady improvement in the spring and will at least play more of a role this year as a rotating substitute.

  • <b>Size</b>: 6-6, 350
<br><b>Buzz</b>: The biggest problem Jim McElwain inherited on the Florida roster was a mess of an offensive line, but hopes are very high for at least one spot -- the all-important left tackle spot -- to be in Sharpe's very capable hands. He appeared in six games last year and figures to start them all, if healthy, this fall. Only a sophomore, Sharpe was a coveted recruit coming out of high school and could emerge as one of the SEC's better left tackles in short order. 6

    Marvin Gentry/USA Today

    6. David Sharpe, OL, Florida

    Size: 6-6, 350
    Buzz: The biggest problem Jim McElwain inherited on the Florida roster was a mess of an offensive line, but hopes are very high for at least one spot -- the all-important left tackle spot -- to be in Sharpe's very capable hands. He appeared in six games last year and figures to start them all, if healthy, this fall. Only a sophomore, Sharpe was a coveted recruit coming out of high school and could emerge as one of the SEC's better left tackles in short order.

  • <b>Size</b>: 6-7, 410
<br><b>Buzz</b>: Watching anyone McGowan's size play football is fun -- but watching him play tight end is going to be appointment television for Big 12 fans. He can bench press 500 pounds and is surprisingly athletic for such a massive player. He's got an 18-yard touchdown catch in the Cotton Bowl already on his resume, and his popularity is such that he recently threw out a first pitch at a Texas Rangers game. <a href="https://twitter.com/nick_pants/status/609579801553190912" target="new">He's a lefty, by the way</a>. 5

    LM Otero/Associated Press

    5. LaQuan McGowan, TE, Baylor

    Size: 6-7, 410
    Buzz: Watching anyone McGowan's size play football is fun -- but watching him play tight end is going to be appointment television for Big 12 fans. He can bench press 500 pounds and is surprisingly athletic for such a massive player. He's got an 18-yard touchdown catch in the Cotton Bowl already on his resume, and his popularity is such that he recently threw out a first pitch at a Texas Rangers game. He's a lefty, by the way.

  • <b>Size</b>: 6-10, 307
<br><b>Buzz</b>: Skipper and Denver Kirkland will anchor both tackle positions for the Razorbacks this fall, but both are trying something different. Kirkland moves to left tackle from guard, while Skipper operated at left tackle last season and will flip to right tackle in 2015. Skipper played some of his best football late in the season last year, recording seven knockdown blocks in a physical game with LSU. Arkansas uses his 6-10 frame for more than just blocking; he blocked a kick against Missouri last year. 4

    Sarah Bentham/Associated Press

    4. Dan Skipper, OL, Arkansas

    Size: 6-10, 307
    Buzz: Skipper and Denver Kirkland will anchor both tackle positions for the Razorbacks this fall, but both are trying something different. Kirkland moves to left tackle from guard, while Skipper operated at left tackle last season and will flip to right tackle in 2015. Skipper played some of his best football late in the season last year, recording seven knockdown blocks in a physical game with LSU. Arkansas uses his 6-10 frame for more than just blocking; he blocked a kick against Missouri last year.

  • <b>Size</b>: 6-4, 355
<br><b>Buzz</b>: As a true freshman last year, Mama picked up starting experience at both offensive guard positions. This fall, he'll start as an imposing presence on one of the nation's most talented offensive lines. <a href="http://www.latimes.com/sports/usc/uscnow/la-sp-usc-damien-mama-sheds-weight-20150401-story.html" target="new">The L.A. Times asked Mama</a> about his weight loss efforts since he arrived on campus last year at 397, and he is now working to get under 350 for the season. Two programs have more than one player listed here, and the Trojans are one of them. 3

    Jake Roth/USA Today

    3. Damien Mama, OL, USC

    Size: 6-4, 355
    Buzz: As a true freshman last year, Mama picked up starting experience at both offensive guard positions. This fall, he'll start as an imposing presence on one of the nation's most talented offensive lines. The L.A. Times asked Mama about his weight loss efforts since he arrived on campus last year at 397, and he is now working to get under 350 for the season. Two programs have more than one player listed here, and the Trojans are one of them.

  • <b>Size</b>: 6-5, 343
<br><b>Buzz</b>: The massive South Florida native was an every-game starter at right guard last season. This year, as a junior, he'll take over the coveted left tackle position. Although Arkansas doesn't throw a great deal, it will be a great opportunity for Kirkland to show NFL scouts what kind of pass protection skills he brings as a prospect. One factor that should make the position switch smoother: his position coach, Sam Pittman, is one of the best in the business. 2

    Beth Hall/Associated Press

    2.Denver Kirkland, OL, Arkansas

    Size: 6-5, 343
    Buzz: The massive South Florida native was an every-game starter at right guard last season. This year, as a junior, he'll take over the coveted left tackle position. Although Arkansas doesn't throw a great deal, it will be a great opportunity for Kirkland to show NFL scouts what kind of pass protection skills he brings as a prospect. One factor that should make the position switch smoother: his position coach, Sam Pittman, is one of the best in the business.

  • <b>Size</b>: 6-9, 360
<br><b>Buzz</b>: How is it possible that Damien Mama isn't the biggest member of the Trojans' offensive line at 6-4, 355? Banner has him by five inches and five pounds. He held down the right tackle spot for USC last year and figures to do so again in 2015. Banner once tried his hand with the Trojans' basketball team, but football is in the blood here -- his father is a former Atlanta Falcons first-round draft pick who also played offensive line: <a href="http://www.nfl.com/player/lincolnkennedy/2501596/profile" target="new">Lincoln Kennedy</a>. 1

    Ben Liebenberg/NFL

    1. Zach Banner, OL, USC

    Size: 6-9, 360
    Buzz: How is it possible that Damien Mama isn't the biggest member of the Trojans' offensive line at 6-4, 355? Banner has him by five inches and five pounds. He held down the right tackle spot for USC last year and figures to do so again in 2015. Banner once tried his hand with the Trojans' basketball team, but football is in the blood here -- his father is a former Atlanta Falcons first-round draft pick who also played offensive line: Lincoln Kennedy.