Auburn Football: Who Will Replace All-American Center Reese Dismukes?


The Auburn football team must replace at least 13 starters from the 2014 roster, and as many as eight on the offensive side of the football. While the offensive line is an often overlooked unit by fans, and the center position especially, there may no more important need next season than to replace All-American center Reese Dismukes.

Dismukes is the Tigers first consensus first team All-American since some guy named Cam Newton in 2010. He is the Remington Trophy winner, given to the nation’s best center, and will make his 50th career start for Auburn on January 1 in the Outback Bowl before heading off to a long career in the NFL.

So who replaces him?

Jan 6, 2014; Pasadena, CA, USA; Auburn Tigers center Reese Dismukes (50) during the game against the Florida State Seminoles during the first half of the 2014 BCS National Championship game at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this season, it seemed to be a cinch that Xavier Dampeer would slide into the middle of the offensive line once Dismukes departs. Dampeer singed with the Tigers out of Copiah-Lincoln (MS) Community College, where he earned All-American honors from PrepStar and was rated as the nation’s top JUCO center by 247Sports.

However, Dampeer played only one season at the position following a move from the defensive line. He was considered a candidate to redshirt in 2014, and save an extra year of eligibility, but he’s seen action in five games instead.

“I feel like (burning the redshirt) would help me going into my senior year, but if I don’t get any real playing time this year, I’d be fine with that,” Dampeer said prior to the beginning of the season. “I’d just come in next year ready to work.”

And despite being the front-runner for the position, and the most experienced center on the roster heading into 2015, it’s not a guarantee Dampeer will be snapping to Jeremy Johnson in the Georgia Dome in next season’s opener.

Despite the loss of Dismukes and senior guard Chad Slade, Auburn is likely to return six offensive linemen with starting experience, and another with sky-high potential.

Shon Coleman and Avery Young (who is also considering a jump to the NFL) started all 12 games for the Tigers this season, Devonte Danzey started seven and Patrick Miller started five. Sophomore Alex Kozan was a Freshman All-American in 2013, but missed this season with a back injury. He is expected to return to practice in the spring.

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Austin Golson, a transfer from Ole Miss, also had to sit out this season, but also played 12 games for the Rebels in 2013. Plus, there’s Braden Smith, one of the strongest players on the team who saw time at tackle, guard, and as a tight end in short yardage packages last season and has an extremely bright future ahead of him.

With that talented group, it might be tempting for offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and offensive line coach J.B. Grimes to convert one of them to center – especially one that has more than one year of eligibility.

Speculating, Kozan may be the biggest threat to Dampeer. Kozan will have three years of eligibility left following this season, fits the smaller body-type centers often have at 300-pounds, and is intelligent enough to make the calls at the line of scrimmage that inform the other linemen of their blocking duties and help the quarterback read the defense.

Time will tell if Dampeer can take hold of the center position he was expected to inherit when he signed following the 2013 season, but whoever wins the job will be stepping into big, and very important, shoes.

Next: Previews & Predictions For Every 2014-15 Bowl Game

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