When I look at the Big Ten's strongest position groups for 2011, center ranks pretty high on the list.
Quite a few Big Ten teams return multiyear starters at center, and several players will be coveted in the 2012 NFL draft.
It's no surprise, then, that half of the Big Ten has a representative on the spring watch list for the Rimington Trophy, awarded to the nation's top center.
The candidates are:
Mike Brewster, Ohio State
Ben Burkett, Northwestern
Mike Caputo, Nebraska
James Ferentz, Iowa
Peter Konz, Wisconsin
David Molk, Michigan
The Big Ten and the SEC tied for the most representatives (6), followed by the ACC (5). The Rimington Trophy uses four All-America teams -- American Football Coaches Association, Walter Camp, Sporting News and Football Writers Association of America -- to determine its winner. Penn State's A.Q. Shipley was the Big Ten's last Rimington Trophy winner in 2008.
Brewster and Burkett both are entering their fourth seasons as starters, and all six players boast a good deal of starting experience.
Colleague Mel Kiper lists Brewster as the No. 1 center in the 2012 NFL draft, while Molk is listed at No. 3. Brewster and Molk both were finalists for the Rimington Trophy last year. The award went to TCU's Jake Kirkpatrick.
The Big Ten probably shouldn't complain about any snubs, but Illinois' Graham Pocic has a legit case to be on this list. He's a very solid player who has helped spur a top-20 rushing attack in each of the past two seasons.