2016 Preseason Award Projections: Rimington Trophy

By Charlie Campbell
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Heading into the 2016 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 the next fall’s stars could be the headline players next May for the 2017 NFL Draft. We also will project the winners of the postseason awards that are given out to the best of college football.

The Rimington Trophy is given to the top center in college football. Four years ago, I predicted that Alabama center Barrett Jones would win the Riminigton Trophy and Jones brought home the award. I said I was less confident three years ago, but I still got it right with Florida State’s Bryan Stork. Two years ago, I made it three straight years of getting it right with Auburn’s Reese Dismukes. My streak ended last year though when Alabama’s Ryan Kelly won the award. My prediction was Notre Dame’s Nick Martin, who ended being drafted in the second round, a round behind Kelly. The other finalists were Michigan State’s Jack Allen, who went undrafted, and Iowa’s Austin Blythe, who was a seventh-round pick.

Rimington Trophy Winner:

Ethan Pocic, LSU

This year’s prediction was double-sided; it was easy because Pocic is pretty clearly the best center in college football. However, there is some talk that he might move to tackle this season, and that could disqualify him from the Rimington Trophy. If Pocic stays at center and is healthy, I think he is a heavy favorite to win the Rimington Trophy

Last year, Leonard Fournette was one of the most dominant players in college football, but a big part of his success was the LSU offensive line. Pocic was the leading blocker in the interior for the Tigers, and the big center had an excellent season. He was very good at opening holes for Fournette and protecting his quarterback. On multiple weeks, Pocic (6-7, 309) was named the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week. I think he is going to have another impressive year opening holes for Fournette, and with a Heisman candidate like Fournette, Pocic should get plenty of notice doing it.

Riminigton Trophy Runner-Up:

Dan Voltz, Wisconsin

Wisconsin always features a tough ground game and some talented offensive linemen. Voltz (6-3, 311) has the size and strength to be a starter in the NFL. He was an effective run-blocker for Melvin Gordon in 2014. Voltz is strong at the point of attack, but needs to improve his pass protection and ability to handle speed rushers for the NFL. He earned the starting center position as a redshirt freshman in 2013. Voltz could have his best football ahead of him this fall, and having Corey Clement healthy could help Voltz to get more notice and win more accolades.

Riminigton Trophy Dark Horse:

Kyle Fuller, Baylor

Fuller (6-5, 315) has produced two quality seasons starting on the inside for Baylor. At the point of attack, Fuller is effective at opening holes in the ground game and has generally been reliable in pass protection. He also has versatile size to play guard or center. Fuller started every game and did a nice job of protecting quarterback Bryce Petty as a sophomore. Fuller has upside to get better in 2016.

Honorable Mentions: Southern Mississippi’s Cameron Tom, Washington State’s Riley Sorenson, Auburn’s Austin Golson, Miami’s Nick Linder, West Virginia’s Tyler Orlosky, South Carolina’s Cory Helms, Ohio State’s Billy Price and Clemson’s Jay Guillermo.

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