Jake Bennett — Colorado State Rams — In a conference LOADED with great centers, the Ram junior battered defenders with the best of them in 2016, leading to one of the nation’s best lines come season’s end (after a very rough start versus Colorado and Minnesota), including a home stretch to the schedule where he dominated. He’s a key member on a unit that loses three All-Conference players, and far and away the most talented of the lot. He’s a smaller 6-2 290-pounds, but tough and a skilled blocker with versatility across the inside. The star WB, RB and WR return, so it’s on the Bennett-led line to perform for CSU.
Bradley Bozeman — Alabama Crimson Tide — The Bama native is a perfect example of diligence, patience and hard work; the 6-5 former top prep tackle made the smart switch to center, backed up an All-American while shining in spots, and then he excelled in his first season as first team starter as a junior. He very well might get overlooked come season’s end given the other talent on the Tide line, and an elite center in conference, but he’s a rightful All-American candidate.
Mason Cole — Michigan Wolverines — Another 6-5 former top high school tackle turned top collegiate center, Cole made the switch a bit later in his career (after 25 starts at tackle) but was great in his first season at the pivot. The Wolverines are going to count on Cole as one of the key returnees for a line that must improve along with the run game, despite attrition. Cole’s ability to play around the line might be pivotal for the UM offensive success, but as a center he was great in 2016.
James Daniels — Iowa Hawkeyes — Hampered by injury, the former prep recruit out of Ohio stood out in his eleven starts at center. He’s an athletic 6-4 285 pounds, and the former shot put and discuss thrower boasts terrific balance and power, as a whole and in his hands. With a glut of key returnees with experience on the interior, expect the Hawkeyes to pound the snooch behind Daniels, Sean Welsh and Co. to great success. Behind the Iowa City hogs, Akrum Wadley could tee off in 2017 to a national headline season.
Alec Eberle — Florida State Seminoles — The seasoned and successful veteran presence looks to be critical to an FSU run game featuring doses of the massive Jacques Patrick between the tackles. He knows the intricacies of position, has proven himself at the position, and enters this season as one of the top in the country at the position as a result. Tackle is a question, but the center, oh my he’s good. So good, well, he inspires lunacy…
— FirstAndMonday (@firstandmonday) March 24, 2017
Chandler Miller — Tulsa Golden Hurricane — The final Tulsa player, we promise, as the defense is not that good at all. Regardless of the defensive side of the ball, the offensive line is seriously intimidating, highlighted by the three players we’ve covered, and with Miller finishing that group. The local Tulsa-area product is a tough, 6-3 290-pounder who has proven over his decorated prep career and 26 career starts to be an efficient and effective blocker, plus a leader. He’ll repeat as a Rimington nominee, so after a repeat explosive season on the ground for the Golden Hurricane it will be hard to argue his legitimacy as the director of the organized fracas up front.
Billy Price — Ohio State Buckeyes — Ohio State makes it look easy. Transition a tough, heady and strong guard to center… profit. After Pat Elflein starred in 2016 following a slide to the middle, Price follows suit in 2017. It opens up the remaining guard spot opposite Michael Jordan (we love it more every day) to one of the many, uber-talented Buckeye prospects, and future NFL draftees. Price is extremely well-built for the position — physically and mentally — anchoring the inside at a big 6-4 312 pounds whilst seasoned as a three-year letter-winner and vocal leader on the offensive line. His teammates love him, see:
Frank Ragnow — Arkansas Razorbacks — Per one objective grading and evaluation site, with whom we share some agreement in analysis, Ragnow was the country’s best center in 2017 as their first team All-American (having watched him some of us agreed), as well as their best run blocker across the line. While we aren’t sure exactly to what degree he dominated, he did dominate in a powerful, line-loving offense, in the SEC. Rawleigh Williams owes this man dinners, plural, because the back feasted up the gut for the Hogs and behind his center. Ragnow the Destroyer, a 6-5 320-pound menace, has 2017 to prove he’s the best center in the land, and we are hard-pressed to find many contenders from a skill, size and success standpoint.
Zach Shackleford — Texas Longhorns — Entered last season as a recent graduate out I-35’s own Belton, Texas, and seized the center job for the entirety of what was a Freshman All-FAMerican season for Shackleford, and a very, very prolific one for the Longhorn running game. The 6-3 295-pounder returns in a triumvirate of greatness along the Texas line with fellow list members at their positions Connor Williams and Patrick Vahe, however the sophomore is more the future than either of those two that are destined for the Draft after this year. Count on another stampeding running game for the Horns.
Coleman Shelton — Washington Huskies — The Pasadena prep from LA powerhouse Loyola High School looks the part of both Cali boy and star center at a long-locked and sturdy 6-4 297 pounds. He called the shots along the line for a terrific Cougar run game last year, and returns with talent abounding around him for another outstanding offensive campaign in 2017. He’s seasoned as a senior and 34-game starter, plus he butts heads with one of the nation’s best tackle crops once again. The PAC 12’s best center once again.
When asked about moving positions, Coleman Shelton didn’t hesitate. #PurpleReign
— Washington Athletics (@UWAthletics) August 11, 2016
Snubs — Evan Brown, SMU Mustangs; Michael Deiter, Wisconsin Badgers; Asotui Eli, Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors; Tim McAullife, Bowling Green Falcons; Will Noble, Houston Cougars; James O’Hagan, Buffalo Bulls; Scott Quessenberry, UCLA Bruins