The Replacements: Center

Much like any other college football program, in 2012 Ohio State will have to replace some key players lost to graduation. With that in mind, takes a look at those losses as well as which players might step up in this series of stories. First up is the center position, where Michael Brewster is leaving after four years as the starter.

The position: Center

The guy leaving: Michael Brewster

His credentials: Teams have to replace players every year, but rarely does Ohio State have to find someone to take over for a guy who has started 49 consecutive games. In fact, it's happened only once before – when the Buckeyes had to fill the hole left by nose guard Luke Fickell, whose consecutive start streak got to 50 at the nose guard position from 1993-96.

His journey as a starter began in his true freshman season of 2008, as the five-star prospect took over when left guard Steve Rehring went down with injury. Jim Cordle was moved from center to left guard to accommodate Brewster, and the Orlando, Fla., native never gave up the job.

After starting 10 games that season, including the season-ending Fiesta Bowl loss to Texas, Brewster was named a freshman All-American. He went on to start 13 games each of the last three seasons, having his best campaign in 2010. At the conclusion of that season, Brewster was chosen as a finalist for the Rimington Trophy as the nation's best player at his position while also earning first-team All-Big Ten honors and All-America laurels as well.

As a senior, Brewster was named a game captain in a team-high eight games while also being chosen a permanent captain at the conclusion of the campaign. He also shared the Jim Parker Award in 2011 as the team's best offensive lineman with classmate Mike Adams.

The Contenders
Brian Bobek, Soph., 6-2, 280
The Case For: Bobek served as Brewster's backup in 2011, playing in five games as a true freshman. A four-star prospect out of Palatine (Ill.) William Fremd and the No. 1 center in the recruiting class of 2011, Bobek was recruited as Ohio State as the team's center of the future. He has the intelligence necessarily to play the spot.

The Case Against: The No. 1 knock on Bobek coming out of high school was his size, and reports indicate he's having a hard time putting on the weight necessary to be a starting center at the Division I level. Experience will also be a concern, as he's only been in a handful of plays – none against top-level opposition in a crucial situation.

Corey Linsley, Jr., 6-2, 310
The Case For: Linsley has experience gained early in the 2011 season. The Youngstown (Ohio) Boardman product – a four-star prospect coming out of high school in 2009 – split time with Marcus Hall at right guard early in the campaign after missing the first two games because of suspension. In that time, Linsley acquitted himself well, but his playing time largely disappeared when Adams came back from suspension in game six. There aren't many doubts about his size and mobility after his work at guard.

The Case Against: Linsley spent parts of his first few seasons working at center, but practice reports indicated he had real issues snapping the football. He could also provide solid depth at guard depending how the line situation shakes out, as both starting guards at the end of the season (Jack Mewhort and Andrew Norwell) could find themselves in the running for the two open tackle spots.

Jack Mewhort, Jr., 6-6, 303
The Case For: Mewhort started his Ohio State career at center after enrolling early as a four-star member of the class of 2009 out of Toledo St. John's. After starting five games at left guard and eight at right guard in 2011, Mewhort has experience, which is important given how much knowledge and awareness a center must have.

The Case Against: Mewhort might simply be more valuable at other spots on the line. His experience at guard means he'll likely stay there, though it seems reasonable that he could pick up the center spot if necessary.

The early guess: Bobek and Linsley will each get chances to play the spot in spring. The former will have to prove that he can hold up against the big bodies that play the interior line around the Big Ten, while Linsley will have to show whether he can snap consistently while picking up the offense.

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