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August 22, 2009

Preseason interior lineman power rankings

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We continue our preseason power rankings at each position with the interior offensive linemen.

You can check out our post-spring practice power rankings here . We will update the power rankings each week during the regular season and release the final rankings for the season after the BCS title game.

The rating of a player and coach can fluctuate each week during the season depending on how they fared the previous week, but the power rankings measure overall career performances as well as their most recent results.

GUARD/CENTER POWER RANKINGS

1. G Jeff Byers, USC (6-3/290, Sr.)
BUZZ:
Byers received a sixth year of eligibility this offseason because of past injuries. He's a cerebral blocker who makes up for some physical shortcomings with excellent technique, high intensity and a tremendous work ethic.

2. G Rodney Hudson, Florida State (6-2/285, Jr.)
BUZZ:
For the first time in a long while, FSU's offensive line is a strength. - and Hudson is one of the main reasons.

3. C Kristofer O'Dowd, USC (6-5/300, Sr.)
BUZZ:
He has good size for a center. He also is equally proficient in run blocking and pass protection.

4. G Thomas Austin, Clemson (6-3/315, Sr.)
BUZZ:
Austin moved to guard from center this season. He's a bull in the middle of the line for the Tigers.

5. G Jon Asamoah, Illinois (6-5/315, Sr.)
BUZZ:
He will be a third-year starter for the Illini. He is an especially good run blocker and frequently is called upon to pull on sweeps.

6. C Matt Tennant, Boston College (6-4/294, Sr.)
BUZZ:
He's heading into his third season as a starter. BC has a good line and Tennant is a star - but who will be on the other end when he snaps the ball?

7. G Mike Johnson, Alabama (6-6/305, Sr.)
BUZZ:
Johnson was part of one of college football's best lines last season. But he is the only big-name guy remaining for the Tide.

8. G Sergio Render, Virginia Tech (6-3/313, Sr.)
BUZZ:
He's a tough and physical run blocker. But he has had problems with injuries, which has led to inconsistency. When healthy, he runs people over.

9. G Mike Iupati, Idaho (6-6/330, Sr.)
BUZZ:
He plays for a poor program, no doubt, but he's a big-time talent. He's considered further along at the same stage than former Vandals star Jake Scott, a former All-Pro with Indianapolis who's now with Tennessee.

10. C Maurkice Pouncey, Florida (6-5/318, Jr.)
BUZZ:
He is part of what should be a dominant offensive interior for the Gators.

11. C Chris Hall, Texas (6-4/295, Sr.)
BUZZ:
His versatility - he has started at least one game at each of the five line positions - is a plus. This will be his second season as a full-time center.

12. C Josh McNeil, Tennessee (6-4/280, Sr.)
BUZZ:
He heads into the season with a 35-game starting streak. He has been a bit banged-up during fall drills but is expected to increase that streak in the opener against Western Kentucky.

13. C Stefen Wisniewski, Penn State (6-3/297, Jr.)
BUZZ:
Wisniewski played guard as a true freshman, then settled in at center last season. He helped pave the way for one of the most prolific offenses in school history.

14. C John Estes, Hawaii (6-3/300, Sr.)
BUZZ:
He'll be a four-year starter for the Rainbows and he has been a middle-of-the-line stalwart for an offense that has gone from pass-happy to more balanced. He began his career at guard.

15. G Shelley Smith, Colorado State (6-4/300, Sr.)
BUZZ:
He'll be a three-year starter for the Rams, who love to attack foes with a physical ground game. He's the standout on an experienced unit.

16. G Mike Pouncey, Florida (6-5/320, Jr.)
BUZZ:
He and his twin, Maurkice, give the Gators a physical duo in the middle of the line. He started at defensive tackle late in his true freshman season in 2007 and brought that aggressiveness to the offensive line.

17. G Kurtis Gregory, Missouri (6-5/305, Sr.)
BUZZ:
While Gregory was a second-team All-Big1 2 selection at guard last season, there are some rumblings that injuries could force him to move to tackle this season.

18. G Gregg Peat, Oregon State (6-3/295, Sr.)
BUZZ:
Peat is a physical presence in the middle for the Beavers, who love to run the ball right up the gut.

19. G Colin Baxter, Arizona (6-4/295, Jr.)
BUZZ:
He played some center last season because of injuries but probably is better-suited to guard. He is heading into his third season as a starter.

20. C Michael Brewster, Ohio State (6-5/296, Soph.)
BUZZ:
He moved into the starting lineup early last season as a true freshman and performed well. He has advanced pass-blocking skills and should become more of a road-grading run blocker as he develops more strength.

(Rankings by Rivals.com staffers Olin Buchanan, Tom Dienhart, David Fox, Mike Huguenin and Steve Megargee.)



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