By and large the only time anybody notices the offensive line is when it's doing something wrong. Be it a holding call, a false start or just getting beaten like a drum by a defensive end causing a play to be blown up in the backfield, it truly is a thankless job.
It's also the most important job on any offense, and our offensive line was terrible last season. Which is why it's no surprise that all four offensive linemen in the 2013 class enrolled in time for the spring semester.
Name: Dallas Hinkhouse
Hometown: Clive, Iowa
Stars: Rivals 3, 247Sports 3, ESPN 2
Dallas Hinkhouse has the best name of any of the new offensive linemen, and he's also the second player to come to the Illini as a juco transfer from Iowa Western, joining wide receiver Martize Barr. All of which means that Hinkhouse will have a good chance to see the field this season because that's why you bring in junior college players: to play. Hinkhouse played small at Iowa Western and needs to put on weight, but he has the feet and athleticism to be an efficient pass-blocker. However, I do have concerns in his ability to blow guys off the line while run-blocking.
Name: Jesse Chadwell
Hometown: Clarkston, Michigan
Stars: Rivals 2, 247Sports 3, ESPN3
Chadwell needs to put on weight -- which is usually the case with high school linemen -- but he already appears to be a good run-blocker. He's physical, which is something you love to see with any offensive lineman. However, I do have concerns with his footwork, as it appears a bit stiff at times. I worry about that becoming a bigger factor as he puts on more weight.
Name: Austin Schmidt
Hometown: Galena, Ohio
Stars: Rivals 2, 247Sports 2, ESPN 3
Of all the offensive linemen in this class Schmidt may be the most ready to play as far as his size is concerned. He's already a giant, but now the question is whether or not he can be molded into a Big Ten lineman. Looking at the tape his technique appears a little raw to me, as he gets too high for my taste. It looks like his size was his biggest advantage in high school, but the strength is apparent in the tape as well. So I don't think we see Schmidt on the field this year -- or we should hope we don't -- but with some proper coaching he has a chance to start a lot of games here.
Name: Christian DiLauro
Hometown: Uniontown, Ohio
Stars: Rivals 3, 247Sports 3, ESPN 3
It's hard to get a good read on DiLauro since he played a lot of tight end in high school and the video isn't really good enough to see what he's doing as a blocker. However, if he's playing tight end and offensive line in high school then it's obvious he's athletic and he certainly has the frame to grow. In other words, he's a versatile player worth bringing to camp.