BOULDER, CO - OCTOBER 22: Quarterback Nick Hirschman #8 of the Colorado Buffaloes gets a pass off as he's pressured by defensive tackle Wade Keliikipi #92 of the Oregon Ducks after he blew by offensive lineman Gus Handler #76 during the third quarter at Folsom Field on October 22, 2011 in Boulder, Colorado. Oregon defeated Colorado 45-2. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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No. 66, Brandon Vitabile, Center, Sophomore
Who he be: Most people probably expected three-year starter Ben Burkett to finish out his Northwestern career by continuing to play at center in his final season, but he was displaced at that spot by Vitabile, who started every game at center his freshman year. By all standards, Vitabile - who was the No. 6 center in the country out of high school - was pretty good in his freshman year, adjusting quickly to the pressure of having to read defenses and make the right calls up front. Based on his freshman performance, Vitabile earned himself a spot on the Rimington Trophy Watch List, which selects the best centers in the country.
Tell me more about this Rimington Trophy Watch List: Have you ever noticed that seemingly every year, Northwestern's center is on the Rimington Trophy Watch List? Damn, we must have good centers!
Well, to be honest, the Rimington Trophy Watch List highlights the top 50 - FIFTY - centers in the country, in the listmakers' perspective. This might make sense for things like the Heisman Trophy, which honors the best overall player, or Nagurski, for best defensive player, or even something like the Biletnikoff for the best receiver, since there are a lot of players and defensive players and receivers. But each team only has one primary center. That means a little bit over 40 percent of starting centers in the country are on the Rimington Trophy Watch List. Vitabile is one! That's good! The list features six Big Ten centers, also known as half the centers in the Big Ten.
Rimington Trophy Watch List Watch List: Players selected off the Rimington Trophy Watch List for their name or physical appearance.
Braxston Cave, Notre Dame, Graduate Student, geographic location
Trent Dupy, Tulsa, Senior
Hroniss Grasu, Oregon, Sophomore, space alien
Macky MacPherson, Syracuse, junior, lead singer of Macky Mack and the Snapping Bunch
Blake McJunkin, SMU, senior, PERSON WHOSE LAST NAME IS MCJUNKIN
Weston Richburg, Colorado State, junior
Matt Stankiewitch, Penn State, senior, former NOTW candidate
Looking forward: Vitabile obviously looks to retain the starting role at center for Northwestern, and is apparently one of the 50 best centers in the country! So that's good! While Burkett's career didn't have quite the finish he probably hoped - he was productive as a right guard, but he probably wanted to stay at center - Vitabile will hope to be a four-year starter at the center spot for Northwestern. A definite bright spot on what was a shaky line at time last year with three years to improve, at that.