Top centers, picks 6-10

They say football fans only notice the center when there's a fumbled snap, and that's pretty accurate. His may be the most thankless and anonymous position on the field but it's also one of the most important. After all, the play can't start until the center delivers the ball safely into the hands of the quarterback.

So how could I determine who were the 10 best centers at Tennessee between 1964 and 2004?

First, I've watched most of the guys I ranked in both practice and games. I've gauged the respect their coaches and teammates showed them. You'll notice that several of these guys were voted team captains. I also took into account the recognition they got outside the team (All-SEC honors, etc.). And, to a lesser extent, I factored in their success at the pro level.

All in all, I feel pretty good about my 10 selections. I'll post picks 1 through 5 later today. For now, here are picks 6 through 10:

10. TODD KIRK: As a sophomore he was the starting center for Tennessee's magical "Sugar Vols" team of 1985. He kept the job in '86 and '87, as well. Kirk earned no college recognition and never played a down in the NFL but he was a heck of a player, nonetheless.

9. JASON RESPERT: A part-time starter at guard in 2001 and 2002, he missed most of 2003 with injuries, then moved to center in 2004 and looked like he was born to play there. A quality leader, Respert was voted a team captain as a senior.

8. JOHN FISHER: After lettering in '88, this Milan product started at center in 1989, '90 and '91. Technically proficient and quietly efficient, he served as a team captain his senior year.

7. SCOTT WELLS: He stepped in when Fred Weary was hurt in Game 2 of the 2000 season, then started the next 49 consecutive games. A former state champion wrestler from Spring Hill, Wells used leverage, savvy and rare strength to defeat bigger and more athletic foes. Tabbed a team captain as a senior, he also was an All-SEC pick that year. Selected by the Green Bay Packers in Round 7 of the 2004 NFL Draft, Wells worked his way into the lineup at guard last season and is scheduled to start at center this season.

6. LEE NORTH: A native of Tucker, Ga., he was a three-year starter (1979-81) who earned All-SEC recognition as a junior and senior. The Atlanta Touchdown Club tabbed him Southeast Player of the Year for 1981. He was a team captain in '81, as well. North went on to play one year of pro ball in the United States Football League.

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