Right guard Dennis Wilburn is a steadying presence on the O-Line
Unless an offensive lineman is a bonified NFL prospect, there isn’t likely to be much talk about individual players up front. However, given that the Red Raiders are completely rebuilding their O-line this year, plenty of attention is being paid to that position group as we head into the 2023 season.
The flipping of tackles Caleb Rogers and Monroe Mills has generated plenty of buzz while the insertion of Western Kentucky transfers Cole Spencers (left guard) and Rusty Staats (center) has also drawn plenty of interest from knowledgeable fans.
However, the fifth starter from that group, Dennis Wilburn, is a player that should be more highly appreciated by everyone in Raiderland. What’s more, his story is the type of journey that makes college football great.
Last offseason, the Humble, Texas native joined Tech as an anonymous walk-on from the JUCO ranks. Almost as soon as he arrived, he began turning heads, though, and he would earn the starting job at center in spring football and not let it go making the start in every game last season.
For the season, he played over 1,100 snaps and gave up only two sacks while earning honorable mention All-Big 12 honors. But now, he’s been bumped over to right guard, where the coaching staff feels he is a better fit.
It isn’t sexy to talk about guards (or offensive linemen in general). There just aren’t many stats to quantify their effectiveness and given that they don’t touch the football unless something has gone completely awry, the attention of football fans understandably goes elsewhere.
However, Wilburn is going to be a huge factor for the Red Raiders this year as a solidifying presence in the interior of the line between Staats and Rogers, and given Rogers’ struggles in 2022, it’s going to be important for Wilburn to be able to handle his business next to him. So while the focus when discussing Tech’s O-line might be on the other four players, don’t take Wilburn for granted because he might be Tech’s most reliable and consistent player at a position group that is not necessarily considered a strength heading into the season.