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The Big Ten's Best 11: No. 8 Bryan Bulaga, Iowa Offensive Tackle

Kristofer Green

If the Hawkeyes are going to contend for the Big Ten title this season, the offense has got to be clicking like the well-oiled machine that took the field in January and delivered the Big Ten's only bowl victory.

An integral piece of that machine is offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga.

The 6-6, 315-pound junior has started 18 games for the Hawkeyes and now is being mentioned in the same breath as the country's top NFL offensive lineman prospects. 

Bulaga grew up hearing all about former Hawkeye great Robert Gallery. His high school best friend was a Gallery's cousin and would talk about him all the time.

"Finally, one time, I happened to turn the TV on to the Outback Bowl and kind of watched him," Bulaga told the Pittsburgh Gazette.

"I found out he was the best tackle in the country. I was like, wow, OK."

Now it is Bulaga who is inspiring awe.

But, don't compare him to Gallery or anyone else for that matter. Bulaga, a preseason All-American, will have none of it.

"I think that's asking a lot of a person to fill his shoes. The way I look at it, it's taking a different approach, kind of creating my own deal, being a different guy than he was. Because I don't think anyone's going to compare to what he was here."

Bulaga could very well prove himself wrong with another strong performance and another year of elegibility remaining. Whether he uses that year is still unknown and he insists he isn't even thinking about it.

"Coach Ferentz is the best offensive line coach in the country, hands down," he told the Iowa Times Republican. "He has done a great job and we have already spoken. The only thing I am worried about right now is the season."

"I just have to play my game that is all I can do," Bulaga said. "I am just going to block it out and play football."

Music to any Hawkeye's ears.

No. 8 Bryan Bulaga, Iowa OT

No. 9 Juice Williams, Illinois QB

No. 10 Brandon Graham, Michigan DE

No. 11 Thaddeus Gibson, Ohio State DE



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