Frank Ragnow Award Semifinalists: MN’s OL of the Year in 2022
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The final positional player of the year semifinal list is here! We’ve covered and named the top-10 QBs, RBs, WRs, LBs, DBs, and DL of the 2022 season, leading to and culminating in the strongest positional group of the 2023…
The final positional player of the year semifinal list is here! We’ve covered and named the top-10 QBs, RBs, WRs, LBs, DBs, and DL of the 2022 season, leading to and culminating in the strongest positional group of the 2023 class: the offensive lineman. Historically, this is Minnesota’s best position in regards to recruiting, and recently the Land of 10,000 Lakes has produced some stalwart NFL lineman such as Tom Compton (Rosemount), Billy Turner (Mounds View) Joe Haeg (Brainerd), JC Hassenauer (East Ridge), and Dillon Radunz (Becker), not to mention Lewis Kidd (Totino-Grace) and Kayode Awosika (Maple Grove) very recently and Seantrell Henderson (Cretin-Derham Hall) back in the day. Of all the top-tier blockers to come out of the state in my recent memory, one mauler has been as sure bet of a NFL prospect in the trenches that I’ve seen in my days, and that is Chanhassen and Arkansas grad Frank Ragnow, now with the Detroit Lions. Strong, smart, and relentless, the now five-year NFL vet makes for an excellent namesake for this inaugural PrepRedzoneMN OL of the Year award, and what a year to kick things off. The 2023 class was stacked to the brim with talented centers, guards, tackles, and utility lineman, sprinkled in with some TE’s destined for bigger (literally) futures. It took a lot of time and consideration to name the 10 best offensive lineman in Minnesota from the 2022, and tough choices had to be made, but the semifinal selections have more than argued their case and are worthy picks in honor of the award’s namesake. Meet to the ten studs below, and make sure to stay posted as we name each award series final winner, wrap up the 2022 season, and set ourselves up for rankings updates, starting at the end of this week. Enjoy!
1)(Kasson-Mantorville) Senior. Offensive Guard. 6’7, 310 lbs. Committed to Minnesota
Some of the toughest premier lineman come from Outstate, and KM‘s Tripp is the 2022 shining example of what the smaller towns of Minnesota can produce. A behemoth offensive and defensive tackle with the frightening finishing ability only a blocker of his size can produce, Tripp anchored a Komets front that made it to the 2021 state 4A final and a 7-3 record in 2022 and was firmly planted in the minds of opponents both before, during, and after their games on Friday nights in Southern Minnesota. The winner of just about every award possible, Tripp was too hard to ignore and made his presence felt in each and every game the Komets played in 2022. The gigantic size, short-area athleticism, balance, and overwhelming first step helped him dominate opponents at the snap of the ball and successfully complete an array of pulls, traps, and second level blocks. Has also played tackle and guard in his prep career. Everything about him screams P5 offensive lineman, and the home state Gophers are stoked to reel in his talents for Tripp’s college campaign.
2)(Osseo) Senior. Offensive Tackle 6’4, 295 lbs. Committed to Minnesota
Williams came onto the P5 recruiting scene before any of his 2023 counterparts and set the tone early for the now-senior classes prominence as college football prospects. An exceptional athlete for his size, Williams anchored Osseo’s offensive line as an upperclassman, which operated as one of the biggest and baddest in the state in 2022. With surefire NFL talent thanks to his footwork, pad level, and comfort in space, Williams has no issues taking on top Metro talent and was successful in a variety of roles and positions for the Orioles. You don’t see guys of his size be able to get off the ball, break down in space, and flip his hips as easily as the 6’4, 295 lber. can, and the combination of tools plus his experience against large and legit competition is going to serve him well at the B1G level. Additionally, Williams only began his football career as a freshman in high school, so the best is still yet to come. Gopher fans should be really excited about him coming to Dinkytown.
3)(Prior Lake) Senior. Offensive Tackle. 6’5, 295 lbs. Committed to Minnesota
What a ride for! The Prior Lake OT went from a 5’8, 225 lb. offensive center as a freshman to a 6’5, 295 lb. behemoth heading to play B1G football for the home state Gophers. The meteoric rise in regards to his size also applied to his recruitment, as Johnson went from unheralded to P5 in the span of about a month and will graduate as the top rated OL in Minnesota with an extremely high ceiling. Working against some of the best DEs and OLB the state had to offer week-to-week, Johnson was nothing short of dominant and shows off freaky body control and speed/quickness/balance for his size. Watching him lead block 10-20 yards downfield is a thing of beauty and something only a minuscule number of OL can pull off throughout the nation year-to-year, nevermind the state. Also experienced and accomplished in pass-pro, Johnson bullies smaller opponents and dominants defenders of his size and elevated Prior Lake to a legit 6A contender as an upperclassman and especially as a senior. He’ll leave PL as one of the the most decorated and accomplished blocker in Minnesota and can now add a Frank Ragnow Award semifinalist nod to his growing trophy shelf. We’ll be hearing about him in Maroon & Gold sooner rather than later.
4)(Champlin Park) Senior. Offensive Tackle. 6’3, 290 lbs. Committed to Northern Iowa
The Champlin Park Rebel interior offensive and defensive lineman and played so well in 2022 that he went from DII to FCS commit and will be joining the heavyweight Missouri Valley Football Conference and perennial contender Northern Iowa. The UNI Panthers have long recruited and evaluated MN talent as good as anyone, adding 6’3, 290 lb. Wright to a solid list of Land of 10,000 Lakes studs, and they got a good one in Wright, who excelled against 6A Metro talent as a tackle but will more than likely slide inside for his college career. Wright earned All-State, All-Metro, and All-District honors this past fall due to excellent use of leverage, strength at the point of attack, and nasty finishing ability. Wright explodes off the ball and gets into the chest plate of opponents quickly and ferociously, and works to finish with more determination than anyone on this list. I would not want to go up against this dude in the trenches and I’m sure his opponents from this past fall feel the same way. The film alone made him an easy choice for a Frank Ragnow Award semifinalist, and when you add in the size, recruitment, strength, and tenacity and you have a tone-setter in the trenches that you’d much rather have on your team than not.
5)(Minnetonka) Senior. Offensive Center. 6’3, 275 lbs. Committed to North Dakota State
Remember the list of MN-born offensive lineman playing pro football that I introduced the article with? North Dakota State produced about half of them, making for one of the strongest bets to play NFL ball if you’re a kid growing up in Minnesota. NDSU evaluates and recruits with the best of them, andis a sure bet for a stud, coached up at an excellent Metro program and holding NFL bloodlines from his father, Chris, a 10-year NFL vet who started 94 games in the big leagues. Jack has been on my radar since he was a sophomore starter for the Skippers, an accomplishment in and of itself, and he’s gone on to improve each and every year while performing better and better against premier 6A competition. Strong, smart, and physical, he’s my choice for the #1 center in Minnesota’s 2023 class and is comfortable and successful in both the run and pass game, not to mention along the defensive line. A man amongst boys since he was an underclassman, Liwienski is laterally explosive, heavy-handed, and has some strong leg drive when working to finish blocks. His strong high school resume will serve him well when he meets the big dogs up in Fargo.
6) Oyintare Porbeni (Stillwater) Senior. Offensive Tackle. 6’6, 240 lbs. Committed to Princeton
Porbeni holds the title for the hottest recruitment in Minnesota for 2022, entering the season basically unknown and leaving as an Ivy League commit who holds an FBS ceiling and a ton of great football in front of him. There’s a few reasons Stillwater’s QB– a Gophers commit – had such a successful 2022 campaign, and one of them is surely the blocking prowess provided by his RT. Porbeni’s length, natural bend, and footwork made him an asset in both the run and pass game out on the edge of the defense, and he also showed he could handle twists and stunts to boot. All of this comes from only a couple of years of football experience overall, and the athletic gifts and impact in helping Stilly to one of their best seasons in my lifetime were too hard to ignore when concocting this inaugural Frank Ragnow OL of the Year Award semifinal list. College coaches agreed this fall, and now the 6’6 OT is heading to one of the best schools in the nation and a more-than-competitive FCS football conference. Big things coming!
7)(Rosemount) Senior. 6’1, 285 lbs. Offensive Center. Uncommitted
The anchor to Rosemount’s offensive line and a key and experienced cog in the Irish’s 6A state championship appearance run, Lindsay earned about as much positive praise from opposing coaches and MN media as possible and was named All-State, All-Metro, and all-everything, in addition to his new Frank Ragnow Award semifinalist selection. Tough, relentless, and capable of playing all over the OL and DL, Lindsay’s consistent technique, powerful base and lower body, and low center of gravity made him impervious to opponents resistance and allowed him to help open massive holes that his RB teammates had no problem exploiting. He’s given every reason to be named a top offensive lineman from the 2022 season and is one of the top uncommitted seniors in the ’23 class, regardless of position. It was a great year to be a Rosemount Irish!
8)(Belle Plaine) Senior. 6’3, 285 lbs. OC/OG. Committed to Augustana
The top offensive lineman in the small school ranks as well as from the entire Outstate, Belle Plaine’s Retzer is strong, mobile, and talented enough to play on any offensive lineman in Minnesota and another top contender for MN’s #1 OC title. The four-year Belle Plaine starter is a natural at hitting combo blocks and working to the second level, is tough to disengage from for opponents, and is a good athlete at 6’3, 285 lbs. and capable of dominating the NSIC in a couple of years. Despite not playing on a win-heavy program, Retzer was dominant against any opponent he went up against and his experience, strength, and toughness are too hard to ignore when discussing the top offensive lineman in the state for 2022. Can’t wait to watch him in the Northern Sun.
9)(Irondale) Junior. Offensive Tackle. 6’5, 290 lbs.
The only junior to make the list, Mandell’s athletic gifts and 2022 play made him to hard to ignore for big-time programs, and he left his junior campaign holding offers from Minnesota, Iowa State, and Syracuse. That level of performance and potential cannot be ignored and the Irondale OT is now in the drivers seat as the top offensive lineman in Minnesota for the 2024 class. His natural bend, how low he fires off the ball, and his strong initial punch overwhelmed opponents from the start of the play and his ferocious leg drive aided him in finishing most blocks off only a couple of steps. You did not want to be in front of this kid last fall. We’ll be hearing more about Mandell this offseason.
10)(Anoka) Senior. Offensive Tackle. 6’5, 295 lbs. Uncommitted
One of the most experienced offensive tackles when it comes to pass protection in the state, Chapman is the top uncommitted prospect in Minnesota regardless of position despite being quieter on the recruiting and media front for a P5 offeree. Efficient vertical set, balanced base, and nimble in pass pro or when folding or pulling across the LOS, Chapman’s mobility for his size would make him an surefire starter on any offensive line in the state and his steadfastness out on the edge was a big part of Anoka’s turnaround in the wins department. I can’t wait for some recruiting decisions come out of the senior in the coming months.