If you're a diehard SEC football fan, you know how critical every position is. Subpar center? Good luck with those defensive tackles and middle linebackers, right? Ineffective defensive end? Good luck stopping the edge run game or keeping pressure on the quarterback. Every position is crucial.
So today, we take a look at the top centers in the SEC. Who are the guys who make the right call at the line, the cerebral types who are the quarterbacks of the line? And who holds their own when that defensive onslaught the SEC is known for comes at them full rush?
THE SKINNY: Ragnow (6-4/320) is a lock as an NFL pick next spring, being graded one of the top three centers in the country for that draft. He delighted Arkansas fans when he decided he'd come back for his final year, and he's an absolute anchor up front for the Razorbacks. He's already on the Rimington Trophy list for the nation's top center, and started 12 games at center last year and one at right guard. As a freshman backup in 2014, he was in for 200 snaps, then started 13 games at right guard as a sophomore, proving his versatility — a trait NFL scouts love.
STATS: Comes into the season with 26 straight starts on the line for the Razorbacks, along with nine games played as a freshman.
THE SKINNY: Clapp (6-5/310) is moving to the center position this fall after starting elsewhere on the line for the past two years. He will fill the void of NFL Draft pick Ethan Pocic and is expected to immediately be one of the top 2019 prospects in the country at the position, but he's proven his versatility by being able to play at other spots on the line in the past. He was hampered some in the spring by an offseason shoulder surgery, but he should be fine by the fall.
STATS: Started 11 of 12 games last year and was a freshman all-american in 2015 when he started all 12 games — 11 at right guard and 1 at left guard.
THE SKINNY: Bozeman (6-5/315) replaced Ryan Kelly at center and never looked back when he came aboard with the Crimson Tide. A lifelong Alabama fan, he has mastered the responsibilities of the center position and is one of the true leaders on offense. He has been a mainstay on the line since arriving on campus in 2013. He was a reserve at first, but has turned into a true cornerstone of the offense.
STATS: Last year Bozeman graded out at 80 percent or better blocking in every game of the season, allowing zero sacks during the regular season — being named the Crimson Tide's offensive player of the game in seven of their eight games going into the national title game.
THE SKINNY: Rawlings (6-5/295) is in a similar situation as LSU's Will Clapp, as he started mostly at right tackle early in his career but he will now slide into the center position as a budding leader. Rawlings is a Rimington Trophy nominee, one of eight SEC centers to be recognized on the prestigious watch list.
STATS: Rawlings made an immediate impact as a redshirt freshman, starting seven games and playing in 10 in 2015. Last year, he started seven at right tackle and one game at center for the Rebels.
THE SKINNY: Golson (6-5/315) began his career at Ole Miss in 2013 and actually played guard and tackle for the Rebels as a true freshman and held his own. After sitting out 2014 because of the NCAA transfer rule, he backed up consensus all american Reese Dismukes at the center position. He has proven his versatility during his college career, making him a coveted prospect when it comes to an NFL that only allows 53 players on the gameday roster. He'll have a nice job in the pros at this time next year.
STATS: Golson has started all 24 games he's played in for Auburn, so this season should be a strong one for the stout lineman.
Here's a look at the next batch of great centers in the SEC:
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