When you look at the landscape of college football in 2023, there is always one common denominator that separates the best from the rest– the offensive and defensive line. Although often overlooked, the line can ultimately make or break a team. It can be the difference between a national title, and missing out on the playoffs. Even though they are arguably the most important piece of a team, they rarely get any attention. We decided to throw the big guys a bone. Allow us to bring you inside the trenches and introduce you to the unsung heroes of the 2023 class.
Joshua Bates – C – Oklahoma
Josh Bates is the longest standing commit in Oklahoma’s 2023 class. He committed all they way back in August of 2021. Even after Lincoln Riley departed for USC, Bates stayed strong. When I asked him if he ever had any doubts about OU, he told me, “No… Right after they offered me I immediately knew I wanted to play there… I didn’t really want to play anywhere else. I got the offer so I made my decision early, and OU is the spot I wanted to be.” He’s been a key piece for the Sooners in this 2023 class, helping recruit the likes of Logan Howland and Heath Ozaeta to Oklahoma.
The Sooners have had some excellent centers in the past, and Bates looks to be next in line in 2023. He told me that he models his game after Ryan Jensen and Creed Humphrey. Obviously Sooner fans are very familiar with Humphrey, and Bedenbaugh and staff believe that they have another guy like that on their hands. He wants to get on the field early and often, however, he is willing to redshirt if necessary. Only time will tell, but Oklahoma feels as if they have a great leader, and potential All-Conference type of guy on their hands in 2023 and beyond.
“My job is to protect all the people that score the touchdowns. I don’t need all the media… that’s kind of how I look at it.” – Josh Bates when asked how he felt about the lack of media attention
Luke Montgomery – OL – Ohio State
Luke Montgomery has the opportunity to be a “hometown hero” for the Buckeyes in 2023 and the years to come. The 6-4, 295-pound offensive lineman is rated just outside of the top 50 overall rankings in the 247 composite rankings for the 2023 class. Growing up in the state of Ohio, the Buckeyes have always held a special place in Luke’s heart. “It’s been really cool… it’s a dream come true definitely… It all starts now. I’m really glad I got the opportunity to play here.”
Before he was blocking and making space for his peers, Montgomery was catching passes as a tight end, as well as playing on the defensive line. When I asked him why he made the switch to offensive line he stated, “My athleticism was more built there. I had a couple offers on defense, but I started playing offensive line and my weight and measurements became more and more like an offensive lineman… I think I have a better opportunity to play past the collegiate level.”
Luke Montgomery is a team player through and through. “We do a lot of hard work for these guys to get the limelight, but at the end of the day, I don’t really care at all about [the lack of media attention],” Montgomery stated. “It’s just a brotherhood you know, just all eleven guys bought into the culture and stuff. We built that over five days and built connections [at the All-American Bowl], and it was really fun.”
“This is a once in a lifetime experience. Just looking around this is really cool. I mean, just the connections you’ll make here for the years to come, it’s something really special that not a lot of kids have the opportunity to do. I’ve been really blessed to be put in this position to be able to do that. I can’t thank the Lord enough, and my family for helping me reach these goals.” – Luke Montgomery on what it means to be able to play in the All-American Bowl
Anthony James – DL – Washington
On the other side of the ball, Anthony James is one of the more underrated 2023 class prospects here at the All-American Bowl. Listed at 6-5, 265-pounds, James has an exceedingly high ceiling, even if he is only rated as a three-star prospect by the 247 Composite. The Washington commit is willing to bet on himself in Seattle, and has a firm belief in his ability to get the job done. “[Media members] are going to see the tape,” James remarked. “They’re going to see how I work. It is what it is.”
Anthony was formerly committed to the Aggies, before decommitting in May of 2022. On his decommitment post he stated, “There are no assumptions to be made, and no conclusions to be drawn… When a decision has been made, I will make an announcement.”
James later committed to the Washington Huskies while on an official visit back in June. Obviously this is somewhat of a rarity in 2023’s college football landscape. When I asked him why he was so quick to pull the trigger, he replied, “The coaches are real there. Everything they said, it was all the right things I needed to hear.”
James is one of only two Washington signees from the state of Texas in the 2023 class. Obviously Texas is a long way from Seattle, but the distance didn’t deter Anthony from making what he thought was the right decision. “I’m a little worried because I don’t have any family up there. But it’s my journey, and I got to do what I’ve got to do.”
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