The Boise State football team started seven different offensive linemen last season - and all of them possessed previous starting experience.
If the Broncos need that many bodies in the trenches this year - and history says they will - they'll need a handful of freshmen and sophomores to emerge.
They return four seniors with starting experience, but none of the other 11 offensive linemen on the roster this spring has more than a few game snaps with the first-team offense.
"They're all improving tremendously, and it's fun to watch," said senior center Matt Paradis, who was an All-Mountain West first-teamer last year. " We're counting on them and I believe they will step up, too."
The Broncos used seven of their 15 spring practices the past two weeks before leaving for spring break. They'll return next week for the run-up to the Spring Game on April 13 (5 p.m., Bronco Stadium).
Those two weeks will be important to guys such as sophomore guard Marcus Henry, sophomore tackle Rees Odhiambo, redshirt freshman guards Travis Averill and Mario Yakoo and redshirt freshman tackle Steven Baggett, who are trying to position themselves as starter candidates going into the summer.
"Spring is huge," Henry said. "It's the biggest time when you're going to improve and really solidify your spot for fall."
Henry (6-foot-3, 296 pounds) was one of the standouts of fall camp last year but rarely got into games last season because of the experience in front of him. He's from Bellevue, Wash., which makes earning the start for the season opener Aug. 31 at Washington even more important to him.
"There's definitely a little bit more on my shoulders," he said.
Said offensive line coach Chris Strausser: "We didn't get him as many reps as we would have liked to (last season), but I think he gained a lot of experience just preparing to be in the game."
Odhiambo (6-4, 309) was the No. 3 tackle by the end of last season. He made a one-play emergency appearance in the MAACO Bowl when starter Brenel Myers lost a shoe.
Odhiambo, who was born in Kenya but raised mostly in the Dallas area, only played three years of high school football.
"I'm just trying to improve my overall game and be a little more aggressive toward everything I do," he said.
Odhiambo likely will compete with senior Jake Broyles for the starting job at right tackle. Broyles has started the season opener each of the past two seasons but made a total of four starts because of season-ending injuries.
Henry is the front-runner at right guard with senior Spencer Gerke, who has eight career starts, the front-runner at left guard. Paradis and senior left tackle Charles Leno Jr. are locked in as returning starters.
"They've been doing an awesome job," Gerke said of Odhiambo and Henry. "Coach Strauss kind of threw them into the fire last year. They grew last season and they're still growing this spring. They could both be starters this year."
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat