Scouting Combine Research: Centers

We have the stats and personal stories of the six centers who were invited to the Scouting Combine. That group is led by consensus All-American Reese Dismukes, who got his work ethic from his father. (Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY

Reese Dismukes, Auburn (6-3, 296): Dismukes won the Rimington Award, which goes to the nation’s best center and was a finalist for the award in 2013. Dismukes started all but two games for an Auburn team in and out (and back into) national prominence during his four seasons, which included two head coaches and six starting quarterbacks. He raked in the honors, from consensus All-American to getting the key to the city of his hometown of Spanish Fort, Ala. The work ethic comes from working alongside his dad. "He'd have me picking weeds in the yard or working at the plumbing company," Dismukes said. "We built a football field. He was kind of over the ballpark. I ran the concession stand. I started off just picking up trash. I knew everybody in the town. I'd do that and drag the field and do that stuff, then work the concession stand and cook all the food. I always had to work."

B.J. Finney, Kansas State (6-4, 303): The former walk-on was a finalist for the Rimington and the Big 12’s Offensive Lineman of the Year. He was a Freshman All-American in 2011 and first-team all-conference in 2012 through 2014. He is one of just three players in school history to earn all-conference honors in all four years of his career. In the final two collegiate games of his career, he bumped out to tackle at times due to injuries elsewhere on the line. Finney started a K-State record 52 consecutive games games — every game since the 2011 season opener — including the final 51 at center. He also is the first lineman to be a three-time captain in program history. In high school, he was a state champion wrestler as a senior and runner-up as a junior. Finney calls going to K-State “divine power at work” after he lost out on a scholarship offer at Ohio. “I would be somewhere else right now,” Finney says. “I had gone the first year and we paid my tuition so we wouldn’t go in to debt, but that pretty much emptied my account and my mom’s account. So if I hadn’t gotten (a scholarship) by December before we went to the Cotton Bowl, I would have had to transfer. It was a simple deal: You’ve got this amount of time. Make the most of it.”

Andy Gallik, Boston College (6-2, 301): Gallik was a finalist for the Rimington Award, as well. He started 40 games at center for the Eagles, including all 12 as a senior, when he was first-team all-ACC. He was a third-team choice in 2013 in helping running back Andre Williams win the Doak Walker Award. Gallik was the center of attention for a BC offensive line that included three graduate students. "I always thought there was a lot more responsibility at center and it was cool to take ownership of that. I like that I'm in control of the ball every single play and I'm getting the rest of the offensive line on the same page," Gallik said.

Max Garcia, Florida (6-4, 290): Garcia’s winding path took him from Maryland, where he started all 12 games at left tackle in 2011, to Florida, where he started at left guard and left tackle in 2013. As a senior, he moved to center and was named second-team all-SEC and the team’s co-offensive MVP. Garcia was a stabilizing force for a line hit hard by injuries. Garcia probably wouldn’t have got this far without his brother, Luke, who is 11 years older than Max and served as a brother, mentor and second father after their parents split. "I noticed how much of a presence he is,'' Luis said. "I got a joke about him that I call him Kim Kardashian because everywhere we go to eat or something, it's 'Max, can I take your picture? Max, can I get an autograph?' A lineman never gets any love. It's just amazing how the whole town embraces him."

Hroniss Grasu, Oregon (6-3, 295): From the start of his freshman year through the end of his junior year, Grasu started all 40 games. He ran that streak to 50 but he sustained a left leg injury that required surgery. He was back in time for the playoffs. Despite missing three games, he was one of five finalists for the Rimington Award and, for the third time, was voted first-team all-Pac 12. His family is from Romania and owns a chain of Italian restaurants in the Los Angeles area. “They just wanted to live the American dream,” Grasu said. “It was tough, living under Communism. One of my uncles got sent back three times when he tried to leave. My mom had a cousin who was shot and killed.” With his parents’ European roots, — soccer was Grashu’s first sport and kicking was his first foray into football. “I kind of tried offensive line out without letting them know. They found out the first game they came to and they weren’t too happy about it, but they got over it.”

Greg Mancz, Toledo (6-5, 300): Mancz was a three-year starter at right guard before moving into the pivot for his senior season. He turned in a big season, even earning some All-American accolades — the first Toledo offensive lineman since 1938 to do so. Mancz, a three-time all-conference pick, became the first offensive lineman to win the Vern Smith Award as the Mid-American Conference's Most Valuable Player. Yes, MVP. "I was in the locker room and I said, 'That's a funny joke.' But then they showed it to me and I really couldn't deny it any more. I was really surprised,'' he said at the Senior Bowl. ... "I room with three other redshirt seniors - I've lived with them for four years now - and they won't let me hear the end of it. Besides that, everybody keeps offering me congratulations. It really means a lot.'' He follows his coach’s motto of “Give more than you take.”

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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