CollegeFootballNews.com Preview 2017: Top 20 Centers
Who are the best centers coming into the college football season? Here are the projected 20 top guys
Preview 2017: Top 20 Centers
Who are the best centers coming into the 2017 college football season? This is a projection of the top COLLEGE players, and not necessarily the best pro prospects. Talent, of course, matters, but this is about looking ahead at who will be the top 20 this year.
20. Jake Pruehs, Sr. Ohio
The 6-2, 300-pounder is the solid, smart all-around blocker for yet another solid, smart Ohio team that’ll probably end up in the MAC title game again.
19. Mason Hampton, Sr. Boise State
Is he a better guard prospect or is he a stronger center? The 6-3, 303-pounder earned All-Mountain West honors on the field and in the classroom. He’ll end up as a four-time all-academic performer.
18. Tim McAuliffe, Sr. Bowling Green
A bit undersized, the 6-1, 287-pound versatile veteran makes up for it by being a solid blaster. He could work at guard, but he’s been an all-star at center for the last few seasons.
17. Jesse Burkett, Sr. Stanford
Built a bit like a decent tackle, the 6-4, 288-pound veteran earned academic all-star honors over the last few seasons, but this year he’ll be an All-Pac-12 performer as the leader of a rising line.
16. Eric Gallo, Sr. Virginia Tech
While he’s not huge, the 6-2, 295-pounder has started 25 times over the last two seasons as one of the steadiest interior blockers in the ACC. A pure center, he might not be a blaster, but he doesn’t make a slew of big mistakes.
15. Drew Kyser, Jr. Memphis
Going into his third year as the starting center for the high-powered offense, he’s a good-sized 6-5, 300-pounder who can move. He’s one of the nation’s best pass protecting centers.
14. Jake Bennett, Sr. Colorado State
The Second Team All-Mountain West blocker has seen time at center and guard over the last few seasons after getting hurt as a freshman. A strong all-around blocker who’s excellent in pass protection, this is his line on what will be a great Ram offense.
13. Jashon Robertson, Sr. Tennessee
Will he end up at center or stay at guard? He’ll be an anchor for the Vol offensive front either way, starting almost all of last season at left guard, and he could end up there again if Coleman Thomas works in the middle.
12. Reid Najvar, Sr. Kansas State
The Kansas State offensive line might be a differentiating factor between another good season and a possible trip to the Big 12 Championship. The 6-4, 295-pound All-Big 12 Najvar should be the best blocker of the bunch.
11. Tejan Koroma, Sr. BYU
Short, squatty, and with the body to crank up tremendous leverage as a killer of a run blocker, he started every game last year and dominated at times. The 6-0, 290-pound veteran is a technician on the inside.
10. Austin Schlottman, Sr. TCU
At 6-6, 300 pounds, Scholttman is a tall blocker on the inside who’s grown into a star. He earned Second Team All-Big 12 honors last year, and now he’s the anchor of what should be a more consistent attack.
9. William Clapp, Jr. LSU
Would you rather have him as a guard or at center? Great from the start of his career, he began working at guard – seeing time at both spots – but the 6-5, 309-pound all-star will be the team’s rock in the middle as one of the top run blockers.
8. Michael Deiter, Jr. Wisconsin
After coming up with a relatively underappreciated season – he deserved better than honorable mention All-Big Ten honors – this season he should be a standout. The pro scouts love the 6-6, 329-pound size, along with the versatility to move to guard if needed.
7. Zach Shackelford, Soph. Texas
Thrown to the wolves as a freshman, he came up with a huge debut, showing off the talent and toughness to be a star in the interior of the line for another three seasons – if he can get healthy after an ankle injury. At 6-3 and 290-pounds he needs to bulk up a wee bit, but – if he’s good enough after earning all-star honors in his first year.
6. James Daniels, Jr. Iowa
The 6-4, 295-pound mainstay of a strong Iowa offensive front started out his career as a terrific all-around guardian his freshman season, and he took to the center gig as a sophomore earning all-star honors.
5. Chandler Miller, Jr. Tulsa
On one of the nation’s most dangerous, high-powered offenses, Miller still stood out. Now he’s going to be the star of the show – even at one of the least-flashy positions – as the all-star blocker who should be the best in the American Athletic. At 6-3 and 293 pounds he’s not massive, but he’s a killer.
4. Frank Ragnow, Sr. Arkansas
This is the type of guy to run a Bret Bielema power offense around – if everything is working correctly. At 6-5 and 319 pounds, he’s built like a tackle, but he’s a rock of a run blocker on the inside. While he can work at guard if needed, he’s growing into a whale of a pro prospect at center.
3. Scott Quessenberry, Sr. UCLA
Yeah, UCLA couldn’t run the ball a lick with no power and no production, but it wasn’t Quessenberry’s fault. The 6-4, 315-pound First Team All-Pac-12 performer came off an injured year to dominate in the middle of the Bruin line – now the rest of the front five has to rock.
2. Martinas Rankin, Sr. Mississippi State (OT)
One caveat – Rankin might not actually play center for the Bulldogs. He saw time there this spring, but his NFL future might be at just about any other position. The 6-5, 305-pound former JUCO transfer turned in an interesting first season for MSU, having massive problems early on his left tackle job before turning into the type of dominant force who ends up making a whole lot of coin playing football at the ned level. He’s more prospect than sure-thing at center, but no matter where he is, he’ll be the key blocker for QB Nick Fitzgerald and the interesting offense.
1. Billy Price, Sr. Ohio State
And he’s not in the NFL right now, why? Coming back for another year was a huge break for the Buckeyes, who now have one of the nation’s top all-around blockers coming off an all-star season. Last year it was Pat Elflein who went from being a superstar guard to center, and now it’s Price’s turn. More than anything else, he’s about as consistent and dependable as any lineman in the country.