"Center" of Attention

Good things have been said of and are expected from the University of Cincinnati's offensive line this coming season. One of the reasons, center Chris Jurek.

With protecting the quarterback and giving the running back places to run top priority, offensive line coach Jeff Quinn is working his crew hard, with attention to detail, to make sure the o-line delivers on those expectations.  Bearcat Insider had a chance to catch up with a core member of this offensive line.  In fact, you could say he takes “center” stage.


While the Bearcat’s quarterback situation may be complicated for the time being, there’s no doubt from where the team’s offence will truly start from.  Junior Chris Jurek started at center for nine of Cincinnati’s 13 games last season, and is prepared to “snap” to it again this year.  Whoever becomes the starting quarterback come fall should at least feel well protected standing behind the 6’-2”, 260-pound Jurek.


 Following practice Tuesday, Jurek explained to us the overall atmosphere of spring ball.


“The general overall feel is that it’s just another chance for us to come out here and get better, develop young guys, get more familiar with the system, and just develop that cohesion not only on the o-line but as a team,” said Jurek of spring practice, now over a third of its way through.


While many feel Jurek is a lock for the starting nod at the center position, the Southfield, Michigan native knows that with coach Quinn and head coach Brian Kelly, nothing can be assumed to be set in stone.


“They want us to compete,” said Jurek of the coaching staff.  “There’s no safe spot.  There are 22 spots on the whole team, and every one of them’s open.  You’ve got to come out and prove yourself every day.”


Jurek knows there are things that even he needs to work on, and is looking to get the most out of his spring practice experience.


“Just trying to keep up weight,” said Jurek of what has been his key concern recently.  “Then from there just keep consistency with the snaps, and just get more familiar with the program and do what I need to do.”


His weight may be a good place for the center to keep his focus.  Listed officially at 260 pounds, Jurek is the lightest of the offensive line’s four returning starters by 35 pounds.


Like most Bearcats we’ve spoken with, Jurek is quick to admit he’s having fun being back on the field this spring.  He also admits that a positive attitude is a must-have during the practice times, however.


“Oh yeah,” Jurek said, sure of himself when asked if he was having a good time out there this spring.  “Just being out there with the guys on the line, we joke around just trying to keep each other upbeat.  Because it is a grind, having to come out here for 15 practices, and you get to play against your own teammates.  There’s a difference between playing against your own teammates, guys you see everyday, and guys during the season.”


So would it be safe to say Jurek is looking forward to the fall and the start of the regular season, now just a short 138 days away?


“I think I speak for all of us, we all are,” said Jurek.  “We’re looking forward to proving ourselves.”


We’re looking forward to that, too, Chris.  And we’ll be looking for you, front and “center.”


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