football

Projecting success at center no easy task

Vjwfby9pgkyxplfancrk
ThetoptwocenterprospectsintheClassof2013haveplentyincommon.
Killeen(Texas)HarkerHeights'DariusJamesandMarietta(Ga.)Walton'sBrandonKublanowbothhavetheintelligencethatcoachesdemandattheposition.Bothplaywithaphysicalstyle.Bothareversatile.
Oh,andthere'soneotherthing:Neitherplayscenterfull-timeforhishighschoolteam.
KublanowsaidhemainlyplayedguardatWaltonlastseason,thoughhefeelscomfortableatanypositionontheoffensiveline.Jamesmovedfromcentertoguardforthelastfewgamesofhisjunioryearandmayplaymoreguardthancenterthisfall.
"It'sjustwheretheyneedmethemost,"Kublanowsaidinregardtohisposition.
Thefactthatthenation'stoptwocenterprospectsaren'tfull-timecentersinhighschoolisunderstandabletoacertainextent.Theircoacheswanttoutilizetheirabilitytoplaymultiplepositionswhilealsocapitalizingoncertainmatchups.
Butitalsohelpsexplainwhyit'ssohardtopredictwhichhighschoolplayerswilldevelopintothebestcenters.
FourofthelastsevenplayerstowintheRimingtonTrophygivenannuallytothenation'sbestcenterweretwo-starprospects.TwoofthefourcenterstogetselectedinthefirstroundoverthelastfiveNFLdraftsalsoweretwo-starrecruits,andthreeofthemwereactuallyratedasguardsortacklesduringtherecruitingprocess.
Forcomparison'ssake,14ofthe25offensivetacklesdraftedduringthefirstroundoverthelastfiveyearswerefour-starorfive-starprospects,thoughthreeofthose25wererecruitedatdifferentpositions.Onlyfiveofthemweretwo-starprospects.
AndthelastfouroffensivetacklestowintheOutlandTrophyincludedonethree-starrecruit(Wisconsin'sGabeCarimi),twofour-starprospects(Alabama'sBarrettJonesandWisconsin'sJoeThomas)andafive-starpick(Alabama'sAndreSmith).
"Thecenter'sthequarterbackoftheoffensiveline,"Rivals.comnationalrecruitinganalystMikeFarrellsaid."There'salotmorebetweentheears-thatyoucan'tevaluatephysicallyonfilmoratagame-thatcomeswithbeingatremendouscenter.Veryfewhavethemeasurablescomingoutofhighschool.They'reusuallyacoupleofinchestooshortorafewpoundstoolight.
"Projectingtacklesisdifficult,butIthinkwedoagoodjobwithit.Someofthemareasgoodasthey'regoingtobebythetimewerankthem,andtheynevergetbetter.Butcenterisdefinitelyoneofthosehardpositionslikequarterbacktoproject."
EXCLUSIVEFRATERNITY
DariusJamesandBrandonKublanowaretheonlyjuniorcentersratedasfour-starprospects(therearenofive-starcenters).Here'sacloserlookateachofthem.
DARIUSJAMES
Wmxniacpejnt5jyfupbx
Height:6-5
Weight:319
Highschool:Killeen(Texas)HarkerHeights
Rank:92
Committedto:Texas
Quotable:"He'sjustabig,meankid,andreallyathletic.Alotofschoolswererecruitinghimonthedefensiveline,andthatjustshowshisathleticism.Alotoftimes,centersaftertheysnaptheballhavetogetoffandmakeallkindsofdifferentblocksandgoallovertheplace.Theyneedtohaveprettygoodfeet.Thefactheplayeddefensivetackleaswellandwasgoodenoughtobeheavilyrecruitedthereisabigdeal.Heplaysallthreepositions[ontheoffensiveline]inhighschool,butheactuallyplayscenterinhighschool,whichissomethingIliketosee.Mostofthetime,thebestlinemenallplaytackleandyousortofhavetoprojectthematcenter."-Rivals.comTexasrecruitinganalystBrianPerroni.
BRANDONKUBLANOW
Zyj7ydabzfmua0p7edba
Height:6-3
Weight:290
Highschool:Marietta(Ga.)Walton
Rank:243
Committedto:Undecided.HehasmaderecenttripstoClemson,Florida,GeorgiaandMiami.HetoldUGASports.comthisweekthathealsowasplanningavisitNorthCarolina.
Quotable:"Hecanbench430pounds,andit'snotjustthathecanbench430,butheusesthatstrengthtohisadvantage.Heplayswithanunbelievableamountofleverage.It'sderivedfromtoenailtohead.Hisstrengthisfullbody,buthe'salsoincrediblysoundfundamentally.He'sthemeanestandnastiestplayerinthecountry.It'snotuncommontolookatthefieldandseeBrandonontopofthegroundoveranopponent.Offthefield,he'sasfriendlyakidasyoucanpossiblyfind.Onthefield,he'snotdirty,buthe'smean,nastyandaggressive.Hehasalltheskillsyou'relookingforinanoffensivelineman.Alotofguyshavebigbodies,butthey'repassive-aggressivetypesofkids.That'snothim.He'snotintimidatedbyanyone."-Rivals.comSoutheastrecruitinganalystKeithNiebuhr.
Indeed,manyofthetopcollegecentersofthelastdecadewerelightlyregardedprospects.
TheclassicexampleisAlexMack,aformertwo-starrecruitfromSantaBarbara(Calif.)SanMarcos.AtthetimeMacksignedwithCalifornia,hisRivalsdatabaseprofilelistedhisweightat255pounds-40poundslighterthantheaverageweightofthetop10centersintheClassof2013.
California'scoachesremainedeagertotakeachanceonhim.TheGoldenBearslikedhisintelligence.Theylovedhistenacity.Andtheyalsobelievedhissuccessinanothersportcouldmakehimabetterfootballplayer.
"Alexwasaverygoodwrestler,"CaliforniaoffensivecoordinatorandoffensivelinecoachJimMichalcziksaid."Hereallyunderstoodleverageandallthosethings.Atthecenterposition,thedefense,they'reonlyinchesawayfromyou.Tounderstandleverageandhowtobasicallygrapplewithsomebodyisabigadvantage."
MackrewardedCalifornia'sfaithinhimbydevelopingintoanAll-Americacenter.HewontheMorrisTrophyasthePac-10'stopoffensivelinemaninback-to-backseasonsandalsoreceivedthe2008DraddyTrophygiveneachyeartocollegefootball'stopstudent-athlete.HehassinceemergedasaProBowlperformerfortheClevelandBrowns,whoselectedhiminthefirstroundofthe2009NFLDraft.
He'soneofmanyelitecentersfromthelastdecadewhowasoverlookedduringtherecruitingprocess.
Thelistofrecenttwo-starprospectsatthispositionalsoincludesfirst-rounddraftpickEricWood(Louisville)aswellasRimingtonTrophywinnersGregEslinger(Minnesota),DanMozes(WestVirginia),JonathanLuigs(Arkansas)andJakeKirkpatrick(TCU).
Moreover,thetwoRimingtonwinnersoverthelastsevenyearswhohadfour-starratingsweren'tevenconsideredcentersduringtherecruitingprocess.A.Q.ShipleysignedwithPennStateasadefensivetacklerecruitandplayedbothoffenseanddefenseearlyinhiscollegecareerbeforemakingafull-timemovetocenter.Florida'sMaurkicePounceyshiftedfromrightguardtocenterinhissophomoreseason.
Michalczikunderstandswhyit'stoughertopredictthefuturesuccessofacenter.
"There'saprototypicalfirst-roundoffensivetackle,"Michalcziksaid."He's6-7,long-armed,almostabasketballplayertypeofathlete.Atcenter,evenintheNFL,they're6-2,6-3or6-4guys....It'skindofaharderonetoevaluateinthatthey'rekindofhiddeninthere.Youcan'talwaysseethemmove."
Andtherealsoareotherfactorsatwork.Forinstance,JamesandKublanowlikelyaren'ttheonlyfuturecollegecentersplayingelsewhereonthelinefortheirhighschoolteams.
Highschoolcoachesoftenliketoputtheirmostphysicallyimposinglinemanatoffensivetackle.AnexampleofthatisWood,whoplayedtackleforastatechampionshipteamatCincinnati(Ohio)Elderbeforebecomingafour-yearstartingcenteratLouisvilleandaneventualfirst-rounddraftpick.
Whenhighschoolcoachesseekacenter,theyoftenarelookingforbrainsasmuchasbrawn.Thoseguysoftendevelopintooutstandinghighschoolcenters,buttheygenerallylackthephysicalskillstoplaybig-timecollegefootball.
Thereissuchadearthofbig-timecollegeprospectsactuallyplayingcenterinhighschoolthatRivalsofficialsarestrugglingtofindcentersfortheU.S.ArmyAll-AmericanBowl.Thisyearisparticularlytricky,asJamesandKublanowaretheonly2013centerslistedasfour-starprospects.JameshascommittedtoTexas,whileKublanowremainsundecided.
"Honestly,inhighschool,withmostofthesimplifiedoffensesorevenwithsomeofthecomplexoffenses,youwantyourbestguysoutside,orattheveryleast[atguard]andjustrunoffthem,"Farrellsaid."It'sveryrareinthehighschoolleveltoputyourbestplayeratcenter."
SoitshouldcomeasnosurprisethatJamesandKublanowarecurrentlybeingusedthewaytheyare.WhenyouhaveafutureDivisionIperformermultifacetedenoughtoplayanywhereontheline,whynotmakethemostofthesituation?
HarkerHeightscoachMikeMullinssaidhelikestocapitalizeonJames'versatilitybymovinghimaroundonthelinebasedonthetypeofdefensehisteamisfacingeachweek.Jamesissuchawell-roundedperformerthathealsohasplayeddefensivetackleatHarkerHeights.
"Ifwegetanoseguard,we'llprobablyplayhimatcenterbecausehecansingle-blockhimattimes,"Mullinssaid."Ifwegetanevenfrontwithoutanoseguard,wemovehimtoguardbecausewefeelthematchupsarebetter."
Althoughheexpectstoplaycenterincollege,Kublanowalsohasplayedalloverthelineforhishighschoolteam.
Tdmc5pbg6sim894swztk
ClickHeretoviewthisLink.
"Itdoesn'treallymattertome,"Kublanowsaid."Icanplayanything."
IfJamesandKublanowarewonderinghowtheirabilitytoplaymultiplepositionscouldpayoffatthenextlevel,theyshouldtakealookatthecareerBarrettJonesisputtingtogetheratAlabama.
JoneswasratedastheNo.1centerintheClassof2008whenhegraduatedfromCordova(Tenn.)EvangelicalChristian,butheplayedrightguardhisfirsttwoseasonsatAlabamaandwontheOutlandTrophylastfallastheCrimsonTide'slefttackle.Jonesfinallyisworkingoutatcenterthisspringashepreparesforhisseniorseason.
CollegecoachesacrossthecountryaresearchingeverywhereforthehighschooljuniorwhocoulddevelopintothenextJones.Iftheyeverfindtheguy,there'sadecentchancehe'llbeplayingsomewhereotherthancenter.
SteveMegargeeisthenationalcollegecolumnistforRivals.com.Hecanbereachedatsmegargee@rivals.com,andyoucanclickheretofollowhimonTwitter.
MorefromRivals.com:
Tdmc5pbg6sim894swztk
Tdmc5pbg6sim894swztk
Around the Nation: USC looking strongClick Rivals/VTO Virginia: Players to watchClick Here to view this Link. Here to view this Link.
Tdmc5pbg6sim894swztk
Tdmc5pbg6sim894swztk
Image unavailable osqizb
[rl]
Edit