The watch list for the 2013 Rimington Trophy has been released, and it includes 44 players. The award will be handed out to the most outstanding center in college football at the end of the season.
With most of the attention focused on the skill-position players, center is a position that is overlooked in today's game.. The award was first introduced in 2000, and it's good to see the players who man this position receive recognition for the job they do. .
The SEC leads the list with nine candidates, while the Pac-12 and Mountain West are second with five nominees.
Here are the five best contenders for the Rimington Trophy.
Thanks in part to center Russell Bodine, running back Giovani Bernard was able to find room to run and became a second-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft.
Bodine has started the last two seasons for North Carolina, including 318 snaps his redshirt freshman year. He has made opening up running lanes look easy, and has also proven to be a reliable pass-blocker as well. Bodine, who plays with that aggressive nature you love to see from a center, also has great quickness off the ball.
The junior will have his work cut out for him with new players to work with on the UNC offensive line, but he has shown to be one of the best there is at the position.
With so many starters leaving, the strongest part of the Kansas State team is now the offensive line. All five starters return, including center B.J. Finney.
Finney is a former walk-on who eventually developed into a starter and is considered one of the leaders of the team. Voted as a team captain for a second straight season, Finney played a key role in the success of quarterback Collin Klein and the KSU running game.
Life may not be as easy with a new quarterback taking over, but Finney has proved himself to be a hard worker and successful player at his position.
The Ohio State offensive line was able to do a fine job last season, considering much of it was patchwork. Despite moving a tight end to play tackle and having a first-year starter at center, the Buckeyes did an impressive job up front.
A lot of that had to do with Corey Linsley, who started all 12 games at center. He helped Ohio State lead the Big Ten in scoring and finish second in the conference in rushing yards. As you can see in the picture, this guy loves to get physical and has a little bit of a mean streak going.
If Linsley can continue to improve and be as effective as he was last year, there is a good chance he will win the award.
Gabe Ikard is already a three-year starter for Oklahoma and was first-team All-Big 12.
Already considered one of the premiere players at his position, with Blake Bell now at quarterback, Ikard will now be responsible for protecting somebody who loves to run just as much as pass the ball. This means even more work for the redshirt senior.
Ikard did struggle at times with the snap in last year's loss to Notre Dame, but there aren't many centers better than him in pass protection.
Bryan Stork has been the rock of the Florida State offensive line since being thrown in to play right guard his redshirt freshman season. Since his sophomore season, Stork has played multiple positions, with a lot of his work coming at center.
Stork has great footwork and is a terrific run-blocker. He also can play different positions. Last year he practiced at tackle, but the coaching staff thankfully didn't need him to make the switch.
The Florida State center is arguably the best in college football and could end up being the first player at his position selected in the 2014 NFL draft.