2014 Auburn Football Preview: Center

We continue our look at Auburn with the center position manned by All-America candidate Reese Dismukes.

Auburn, Ala.--There is no question that one of the most important positions on any football team is the quarterback of the offensive line--the center. For the Auburn Tigers that spot is in good hands with the return of three-year starter Reese Dismukes to lead the group.

With junior college transfer Xavier Dampeer looking like he can be a solid backup, the news is good for Coach J.B. Grimes heading into the 2014 season.

One of the top players at his position in the country, Dismukes could have made the jump to try his hand at life in the NFL, but instead returns for his fourth year as the starter for the Tigers in the middle. A powerful blocker who has become a true leader for Auburn in the last 12 months, Dismukes' best football is likely still ahead of him based on his improvement as a junior.

In his second season under the direction of Grimes and strength and conditioning coordinator Ryan Russell, Dismukes is in better shape and that translates into being more consistent late in games. That showed up last season when Auburn dominated opponents in the running game the second half of the year.

A former defensive tackle before moving to the offensive line last season at Copiah-Lincoln Community College, Dampeer showed signs in the spring of being a capable player at the center position. Physical with good feet, Dampeer became more comfortable snapping in the shotgun as the spring went along and provides quality depth behind Dismukes.

Xavier Dampeer showed a great deal of improvement during the spring after enrolling at Auburn in January.

One of the reasons for that was a decision by Grimes and Gus Malzahn to hold Dismukes out of much of the contact work in the spring. That gave Dampeer double the amount of reps he would normally get so he got up to speed on the offense in a shorter time.

The third player at the position is redshirt freshman Deon Mix. Coming to Auburn overweight and out of shape last summer, Mix has worked hard to improve his conditioning and it is starting to show up on the field. Working exclusively at center during spring practice, he heads into the season looking to continue his improvement as he learns from Dismukes.

Deon Mix has trimmed down more than 30 pounds since getting to Auburn

Should Auburn get in a jam there are a few other players that could slide over and play center if needed. One of them is veteran Chad Slade. He has worked at center in a limited capacity in the past and has the experience to jump in and get the job done if needed. The other is sophomore guard Alex Kozan. He has also gotten some snaps at center in practice settings and could be used in a pinch.

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