Turel's Big 10 Position Rankings: Centers

Doug Datish

In an upcoming issue of GoBlueWolverine the magazine, Josh Turel ranks the top players at each position in the Big Ten conference. These preseason forecasts are subject to change, but here is his outlook in things heading into the 2006 season. In this segment, Turel breaks down the centers. Ohio State's Doug Datish leads the way.

Centers
1-Doug Datish, Senior, Ohio State
2-Trevor Rees, Junior, Northwestern
3-Mark Bihl, Senior, Michigan
4-Robbie Powell, Junior, Purdue
5-A.Q. Shipley, Sophomore, Penn State
6-Tyson Swaggert, Senior, Minnesota
7-Chris Mangiero, Senior, Indiana
8-Ryan McDonald, Sophomore, Illinois
9-Marcus Coleman, Junior, Wisconsin
10-Rafael Eubanks, Freshman, Iowa

With the loss of Minnesota’s Greg Eslinger, Ohio State’s Nick Mangold, Michigan State’s Chris Morris and Wisconsin’s Donovan Raiola, the center position in the Big Ten isn't what it use to be. That said, a young crop of first time starters and a mix of veterans should make things interesting. The player at the top of this year's board should be Ohio State’s Doug Datish. The former tackle will be making the move to center this year, which further displays his outstanding versatility. The 6’5, 294 pounder can play any position on the offensive line, and play them well. He was a reliable left tackle last season and his experience will go a long way toward replacing Mangold.

Despite missing all of last season due to academic troubles, we will slot Trevor Rees at number two. Rees was a freshman All American in 2004 and no doubt has exceptional talent. He may have some initial rust, but expect Rees to grow into a All Big Ten type player down the line.

Perhaps one of the most important roles this year for the Michigan Wolverines will be filled by Mark Bihl. Coach Carr raved about his former starter during the spring and his ability to hold the center spot will allow the Wolverines to move Adam Kraus to guard. Carr believes Bihl is finally ready to finally take over the anchor position full time after struggling as a starter a few years previous.

After starting at left guard last season, Robbie Powell will now take over the center spot for the Boilermakers. Powell brings exceptional size and experience to the fold and is a part of what should be a very good Boilermaker line.

One player who could be the sleeper of the group is Penn State’s AQ Shipley. After initially starting out on defense, Shipley was moved to center and has adapted quickly. Shipley will be counted on heavily, as he is the centerpiece of a line that only returns one starter.

The Golden Gophers will start Tyson Swaggert at center and he should be a good one. The 6’4, 285 pounder has experience playing along the line and could move to guard if needed.

Indiana’s Chris Mangiero makes up for his lack of size and range with tenacity on the inside.

Illinois’s Ryan McDonald has settled in at center after struggling at tackle last season. The staff is counting on him to help improve a marginal Illini offensive trench.

Rounding out the list are two youngsters who won their spots coming out of spring ball. Marcus Coleman of Wisconsin and Rafael Eubanks have the tall task of replacing starters at top notch offensive line schools.

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