2013 Preseason All-American Projections: Centers

By Charlie Campbell
Send Charlie an e-mail here: [email protected]
Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell for updates.

Heading into the 2013 college football season, WalterFootball.com will debut our projections for the nation’s leaders during the fall. The All-American teams always have some surprises, and this coming fall’s stars could be the headline players next April for the 2014 NFL Draft.

First-Team Guards:

David Yankey, Stanford

Yankey was a First-Team All-American last year on the heels of an impressive season at left tackle for Stanford. Similarly to Alabama’s Barrett Jones, Yankey is now switching positions entering his senior year despite the impressive junior season. He is moving to guard with the highly touted Andrus Peat taking over at left tackle. Yankey looks like a better fit at guard in the NFL anyway.

Yankey was pretty solid in 2012. Overall, he was an adept pass-protector and did an impressive job of opening up holes for running back Stepfan Taylor. Yankey had a lot of excellent games and did well against teams like Oregon, UCLA, USC and Notre Dame. All of those defenses featured pass-rushers with early-round potential for the NFL Draft.

Yankey played right tackle for Stanford in 2011 and did well opening holes for Taylor. The sophomore also was effective at protecting Andrew Luck. Yankey is a well-rounded player who has been groomed well by the Cardinal program. The 6-foot-5, 311-pounder can move defenders at the point of attack and has the athleticism to be a good pass-protector on the inside.

Peat and Yankey could form a phenomenal left side of the offensive line in 2013. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Yankey repeat as a First-Team All-American.

Anthony Steen, Alabama

Some labeled Steen as the weak link on Alabama’s star studded offensive line last year, but he turned out to be a quality blocker. Steen isn’t as powerful as former teammates Chance Warmack or D.J. Fluker, yet Steen did a very good job of opening up holes in the ground game. Steen received some help in pass protection from center Barrett Jones, but improved in his pass blocking as the year progressed. Alabama had a lot of success running behind Steen in both the SEC Championship and the National Champsionhip.

Steen started nine games in 2011 while dealing with injuries. The 6-foot-3, 309-pounder has added some weight this offseason and that could help him in 2013 as he won’t have Fluker and Jones lining up on either side of him.

The Crimson Tide has been a factory for NFL ground games with powerful offensive linemen and excellent backs. Steen is the latest in that line with a respected reputation that could help propel him to being a First-Team All-American.

Second-Team Guards:

Xavier Su’a-Filo, UCLA

There is no doubt that Jim Mora, Jr. and his coaching staff made a lot of great coaching moves during 2012 – Mora’s first year running the Bruins’ program. One of such decision included turning fullback Anthony Barr into one of the best pass-rushers in the nation, but the first move that Mora made after taking the job was recruiting Su’a-Filo back to UCLA football. That turned out great as the re-recrucited Su’a-Filo produced a great season opening up holes for Johnathan Franklin and protecting Brett Hundley.

Su’a-Filo was out of football in 2010 and 2011 while serving on a Mormon mission. In 2009, Su’a-Filo set a Bruins record with 13 starts at left tackle as a true freshman. He was an honorable mention All-Pac-10 and was on numerous All-Freshman teams.

Mora and his staff saw that Su’a-Filo was probably a better fit at guard in the team’s pro-style offense. The 6-foot-5, 315-pounder excelled on the inside in 2012 and has the makings of an early-round pick for the NFL. Su’a-Filo has natural strength and athleticism. He also is known as a good leader and a high character individual. All of that could combine to the coaches making Su’a-Filo a First-Team All-American.

Cyril Richardson, Baylor

Richardson moved back to guard for 2012 and the move was astute as he had an excellent season for the Bears. Richardson was significantly improved as a pass-protector on the inside for quarterback Nick Florence. Richardson had some rough moments at left tackle in 2011 while handling the blind-side protection for Robert Griffin III.

Richardson showed off early last year how much better he was as a pass-blocker. Florence and wide receiver Terrance Williams got off to a great start with a lot of huge performances. Richardson was really showcasing some nice run blocking for Baylor later int eh season. Running backs Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin finished 2012 in impressive fashion with huge games on the ground.

Richardson enters the 2013 as a 3-year starter who has a lot of experience in the Big 12. With Seastrunk and Martin coming back, the 6-foot-5, 335-pound Richardson could have a huge season as a run-blocker. The senior could be one of the top guards in the nation.

Third-Team Guards:

Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State

Jackson has been a consistently good blocker in the SEC for the past few seasons. Mississippi State has had some potent running offenses and Jackson is one of the big reasons why. The 6-foot-4, 320-pounder is strong at the point of attack and can blast open some running lanes.

Jackson was a Second-Team All-SEC selection in 2011, his second year as a starter. He was a powerful run-blocker for running back Vick Ballard. Jackson blocked well for Mississippi State in 2012, too. He did very well against Alabama and defensive tackle Jesse Williams. Jackson also was solid against LSU and Texas A&M. His run blocking is ahead of his pass protection, which is partially due to the Bulldogs’ ground-based offense.

Alabama has lost a lot of its star-studded offensive line to the NFL, so Jackson could be one of the top interior offensive linemen in the SEC in 2013. He could end up winning a lot of postseason honors.

Tre Jackson, Florida State

Jackson broke into the starting lineup at right guard. The true sophomore was a tough run-blocker for the Seminoles. He is a power player who can move defensive linemen and open up holes on the ground. Jackson has nice agility and movement skills for a big lineman.

Jackson and others had some problems with Florida defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd late last year, but Jackson should be better in 2013 after gaining that experience. Florida State has good coaching on the offensive line and will do a nice job of developing Jackson. He could be vastly improved as a junior.

The 6-foot-4, 327-pound Jackson should form a nice duo with center Bryan Stork. With Florida State breaking in a new starting quarterback, you can expect Jimbo Fisher to call a lot of power running plays with big back James Wilder Jr. going behind Jackson and Stork. Jackson should have a good season and could enter his senior year as one of the top guards in the nation.

Honorable Mentions: Oklahoma guard/center Gabe Ikard, Florida guard Tyler Moore, LSU guard La’el Collins, Rutgers guard Antwan Lowery, Ohio State guard Andrew Norwell, Texas guard Mason Walters, Auburn guard Eric Mack, Florida guard Jon Halapio, LSU guard Josh Williford, Notre Dame guard Chris Watt and Oklahoma guard Tyler Evans.

Fantasy Football Rankings - May 23

2025 NFL Mock Draft - May 21

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

NFL Picks - Feb. 12