You Make the Call — Center

Who is the best center to ever wear a Colorado uniform? Inside, take a look at BSN's top 5, then vote for your No. 1.

Colorado has produced some excellent offensive linemen over the years. Below are, in alphabetical order, BSN's top 5 Colorado centers of the modern era.

Note: CU has had several players switch between guard and center. For this series of polls, Andre Gurode and Wayne Lucier will be considered guards.

Eric Coyle
6-2, 275 pounds
1982-86

Coyle manned the center position during the early yearsof head coach Bill McCartney's time in Boulder. As a senior, he started at center during one of the most significant wins in team history, the 20-10 victory over No. 3-ranked Nebraska at Folsom Field. Coyle, from Longmont, earned first-team All-Big Eight honors that season, and third-team All-American mention. As a junior in 1985, Coyle was tabbed honorable mention All-American. His teammates voted him John Mack Award recipient, given to the Outstanding Offensive Player in 1985 and '86.

Jay Leeuwenberg
6-3, 265 pounds
1989-91

The Buffs averaged 5.3 yards per rush from 1989-91 with Leeuwenberg starting at center. Leeuwenberg, who was recruited to Colorado from Kirkwood, Mo., by Gary Barnett, played over 2,200 snaps and allowed just four quarterback sacks. He was called for just four penalties in his career at CU. He anchored the line during Colorado's 1990 national championship season, and was named consensus first-team All-American in 1991, and earned first-team All-Big Eight honors as a junior and senior. Leeuwenberg was a ninth round draft pick by the Kansas City Chiefs, and played in 137 NFL games with four teams over nine seasons.

Dan Popplewell
6-3, 235 pounds
1968-70

Colorado's first All-America center, Popplewell was considered the best Buff to ever play the position when he started his sophomore through his senior years in Boulder. Popplewell, from Raytown, Mo., played at around 235 pounds prior to the days of behemoth offensive linemen. He quarterbacked the offensive line during Bobby Anderson's final two seasons, and earned second-team all-conference as a junior, first-team as a senior. He was a versatile player, and had 14 first hits as a junior on the punt coverage team. He was voted the team's most valuable player by his teammates in 1970. Popplewell was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the 10th round of the 1970 NFL Draft, but never played professionally.

Bryan Stoltenberg
6-2, 280 pounds
1992-95

After playing behind All-American Jay Leeuwenberg as a true freshman, Stoltenberg became the first center in CU history to start as a redshirt-freshman in 1992. He ended up a four-year starter at the position for the Buffs as the Colorado moved from its option attack to a balanced offense. Stoltenberg blocked for the likes of running back Rashaan Salaam during his 2,074 yards rushing season (1994) and quarterback Kordell Stewart when he threw for 2,299 yards in 1993. Stoltenberg followed in Leeuwenberg's footsteps by being named consensus first-team All-American in 1995, and was first-team all-conference his junior and senior years. After his redshirt-freshman year, Stoltenberg did not allow a quarterback sack (2,260 plays). He was drafted in the sixth round of the 1996 draft by the San Diego Chargers and played 50 games with three teams.

Leon White
6-3, 275 pounds
1973-77

Monstrous presence on the Colorado offensive line in the mid-1970s, White played tackle, guard and center for the Buffs. He's believed to be the only player in Big Eight history to letter at all three positions. White was granted an extra year of eligibility after a knee injury in 1976. He moved to center for the 1977 season, and earned first-team All-American honors that year, blocking for a Colorado offense which averaged over 378 yards per game. One of the strongest players in CU history, White benched 465 pounds, while still being able to run 5.1 in the 40. Played one year in the NFL for the Los Angeles Rams, but gained fame as a pro wrestler, calling himself Vader.

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