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Thursday, 30 August 2012

Rimington Profiles - Episode 3

Here we are again, with Episode 3 of our Rimington Profiles series, and just in time for the start of the NCAAF season, which kicks off tonight! Today we bring you some very mixed stories, from guys who are looking to build on past success on the field and propel their teams toward bowl games and themselves towards All-American status (and perhaps the NFL?), but also from one player who's football career has unfortunately come to an end for reasons rather out of his control. We also take a quick look at the past winner of the Rimington Trophy, and  look at where the 2012 winner's career might go based on the guys that have gone before him.

Since the year 2000, the Rimington Trophy has been awarded to the best Centre in college football. Of the 13 past winners (there were co-recipients in 2004), many have gone on to good careers in the NFL, with one name in particular now highlighted as one of the best Cs in the league. Whilst it is still a little early to tell whether most recent winners David Molk (2011, drafted by the Chargers, pictured above) and Jake Kirkpatrick (2010, drafted by and still with the Colts) will develop into NFL starting calibre Cs, the 2009 winner is most definitely there. Maurkice Pouncey, drafted 18th overall by the Steelers in 2010, already has 2 Pro-Bowl and 2 All-Pro titles to his name, as well as an AFC Championship and ranking #49 in the NFL Top 100 players list (and #60 in the TPL100) in 2012. The winner of the Rimington Trophy in 2012 will certainly hope to emulate the achievements of Pouncey if their chosen path is pro-football, but for one Rimington Watch List member, this decision has already been made.

Ben Habern

Bio: We start the profiles this episode with a bio of someone who now has no chance to win the Rimington Trophy, former starting Centre for the Oklahoma Sooners. Habern was destined for great things from early in his footballing career. At Argyle Liberty Christian School in Texas he was a standout on both offensive and defensive lines, in his senior year recording 112 pancake blocks and not allowing a sack on OL, whilst recording 11 sacks of his own on the DL. Unsurprisingly, his play got him recognised, and he was heavily recruited by big schools like FSU, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Texas A&M and Arizona, but it was his boyhood team of the Oklahoma Sooners who earned his commitment in 2007.

Our own Gur has similar tales of spinal woe to tell!
Once at Oklahoma, however, injuries derailed his progress. His freshman season was preserved thanks to receiving a medical hardship following an ankle injury vs Baylor. He was able to start 24 games over the next 2 seasons, an impressive total that would have been higher were it not for another serious ankle injury in 2010 - but it did not stop him receiving All-Big Ten rookie honours in '09, and All-Big Ten honourable mention in '10. Another injury, this time a forearm fracture, kept him out of 5 games in 2011, but did not stop him participating in the 31-14 victory over Iowa in the Insight Bowl. It was during this game, however, that Habern felt some soreness in his neck. He was able to continue, but following the match he was evaluated by medics who told him he would need surgery to repair damage there. He underwent surgery in January 2012 to fuse two of his vertebrae together. The operation was a success, and following a lot of rehab, Habern initially declared himself 100% at a Big 12 media day in July. However, as our own Gur will tell you (check out the scary bit of missing spine in his MRI!), neck and back injuries are not something to be taken lightly, and in order to protect his future health, Habern decided to call his football career to an early end in August 2012. Unfortunately we couldn't reach Ben to talk about his decision to retire, but his former teammate at OU and current OT for the Kansas City Chiefs, Donald Richardson, was happy to share his thoughts on Habern with us: "Great player good guy. One of the toughest and smartest centers I've come across. Ben will be just fine without football. Success is not something Ben will miss out on." 

We wish Ben all the best for the future, and hope Don's right that he'll be as successful in his post-football career as he was in his footballing one.

Patrick Lewis

Name : Patrick Lewis
School : Texas A&M University
Height: 6'2
Weight: 310
Year: Snr
Nickname Pat, P. Lew
Major: University Studies
HS Attended: East St. John High School
Football Hero: Erik Andolsek
Non-football Hero: My dad Patrick Lewis, Sr.
Best player you've played with/against: With Von Miller. Against: Gerald McCoy
Pregame Ritual: Listen to music
Favourite Movie: Glory Road
Favourite Artist/Band: Lil Boosie
Favourite Pro Sports Team: New Orleans Saints
Aim for 2012: My aim for 2012 is to help my team go beyond the expectations that people have for us.
Opening Game: Sept 8th vs Florida 

Bio: Patrick Lewis has the potential to be one of the best offensive linemen in college football this season. To be a starting Centre in the SEC (where A&M now find themselves), you have to be good, but to be ranked as the 90th best player in all of college football (as Lewis was earlier this year by the Bleacher Report), then you have to be really good. His football career before college was excellent, ranked as the #4 Centre in the nation by Rivals.com in 2009, and #8 by Scout.com. It's no wonder then that Lewis drew a lot of attention from college scouts, and he soon garnered offers from the likes of Auburn, Tulsa, Tennessee and Texas A&M. Although initially he was disappointed that LSU, a school where he'd attended camps as early as his freshman year, didn't show much interest, Lewis committed to the Aggies and never looked back. His career with A&M started at OG, gaining 12 appearances in his freshman year, including starting the last 8. His performances in 2009 earned him an All-Big 12 honourable mention, just as they did in 2010, when he started all 13 of the Aggies games and helped the offense to rank 22nd nationally. Before the 2011 season, Lewis made the transition to C, and did so seamlessly, not only being part of a unit that allowed just 9 sacks in 13 games, but also ranked in the top 25 nationally in the 4 major offensive statistical categories (Total YPG, Rushing YPG, Passing YPG, Points PG). As a prototypical beast at the middle of the Aggies OL, 2012 will be good for Lewis. He has a chance to go against some of the best defensive lines in the NCAA in the SEC, and will hope that his play can keep A&Ms offense potent, even in their new surroundings.

Camden Wentz

Name: Camden Wentz
School: NC State
#: 53
Height: 6'3
Weight: 300
Nickname: Cam
Major: Sports Management
HS Attended: Lassiter High School
Football Hero: Eric Andolsek
Non-football Hero: Dad
Best player you've played with/against: J.R. Sweezy, NC State
Pregame Ritual: Relax
Favourite Movie: Tombstone
Favourite Artist/Band: Jake Owens
Favourite Pro Sports Team: Atlanta Braves
Aim for 2012: ACC Championship
Opening game: Aug 31st vs Tennessee

Bio: There's no doubt that Camden Wentz was a talented athlete from an early age, and with an All-American Arkansas swimmer as a father, you can understand why. At HS in Georgia, Wentz played Lacrosse, swam, and was part of the football team, earning himself 4 letters. His versatility and athleticism also showed on the field, where for the Lassiter Trojans he started games at both LT and at C, but it was inside where he showed most promise, with Scout.com and Rivals.com both ranking him inside the top 13 in the country in 2009. Despite taking an official visit to Louisville, and receiving offers from Stanford and Wake Forest, Wentz committed to NC State in December '08, and joined the Wolfpack to being the '09 season. As a true freshman, Wentz saw action in 5 contest as a backup C, but by 2010 was very firmly a starter on the NC line - playing a total of 995 snaps on the year, second only to then QB (and now Seahawks starter) Russell Wilson. Over the past 2 seasons, Wentz has allowed only 2 sacks in 1863 snaps, on his way to 26 starts in 26 games. Sadly for Wentz, he was forced to miss much of NC States 31-24 victory over Louisville in the Belk Bowl through injury, playing just 12 snaps. He will hope that 2012 ends on a higher note for him personally, with an ACC Championship his ultimate goal for the year.

Dillon Farrell

Name: Dillon Farrell
School: University of New Mexico
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 285 lbs
Year: RS Junior
Nickname: None
Major: University Studies
HS Attended: Christian Life Academy
Football Hero: Drew Brees
Non-football Hero: My Dad
Best player you've played with/against: Played with-Byron Bell
Pregame Ritual: I usually listen to music, read the Bible, and pray before going out on the field.
Favourite Movie: Furious Love
Favourite Artist/Band: Jesus Culture
Favourite Pro Sports Team: New Orleans Saints
Aim for 2012: Work hard and bring pride back to the Lobo Football Nation
Opening game: Sept 1st vs Southern

Bio: Whilst the other Centres profiled in this week's episode were highly scouted and ranked coming out of high school, Dillon Farrell was going about his business with much less fanfare. Playing his ball at Christian Life Academy in Baton Rouge, LA, he was one of only 70 in his graduating class, and the Crusaders were a class 1A team, the smallest classification in the state of Louisiana. That isn't to say, however, that Farrell's play wasn't standout. Even on such a small team, Dillon earned All-District honours as a juniour, and All-State honours as a senior, helping CLA Crusaders to a 12-2 record and gaining himself an invite to a post-season All-Star game in Baton Rouge. With his 3.6 gpa, Farrell was a standout student athlete, and despite being overlooked by Rivals and Scout.com, he earned a number of in-state offers (LA-Lafayette, LA Monroe, SE Louisiana), as well as interest from Arkansas St., but it was UNM that caught his attention, and he committed in February 2009. Despite redshirting in 2009 behind current Washington Redskin Erik Cook, as an RS freshman, Farrell was thrown in at the deep end, starting at C in all 12 of the Lobo's games in 2010. The Lobos struggled to a 1-11 record that year, the same line they finished with last season, when Farrell again played in all 12 games, but rather than being set at C, he moved all over, with starts at RT, LT and C, and his versatility and value to the Lobos was recognised as he was awarded  the teams Outstanding Offensive Lineman Award. Having not reached a bowl game since 2007, expectations in Albuquerque are low, so Farrell's aim to restore some pride to the Lobos in 2012 is an honourable one. Whilst UNM has produced a number of pro-footballers in the past (not least Brian Urlacher), Dillon has stated before that his main focus is academics and getting to grad school rather than pursuing a football career, and with his father failing to get his degree whilst playing linebacker at LSU, he has a reminder very close to home about the importance of his studies.

Austin Quattrochi

Name: Austin Quattrochi
School: University of Southern Miss
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 285
Year: RS Senior
Nickname: Quatro
Major: Business Administration
HS Attended: Walton
Football Hero: Jeff Saturday
Non-football Hero: Father
Best player you've played with/against: Dontari Poe
Pregame Ritual: Listening to music
Favourite Movie: The Godfather
Favourite Artist/Band: Allman Bros. Band
Favourite Pro Sports Team: Atlanta Braves
Aim for 2012: Win C-USA championship
Opening game of 2012: Sept 1st @ Nebraska

Bio: Whoever said that offensive linemen aren't real athletes? Yet another Centre in todays profile series, Austin Quattrochi of the Southern Miss Golden Eagles, was a multi sport athlete in high school. Quattrochi, not content with being part of the 2007 Walton HS Raiders team that went to the semi-finals of the 5A state playoffs, was also an infielder for the state champion baseball team! At 6'3 and 274 as a senior, however, football was always the more likely path for Austin to take, and he was ranked as the 11th best centre in the country by ESPN as a senior, and a 2* prospect by both Scout.com and Rivals.com. Austin committed to South Miss after being recruited by Blake Anderson, and after redshirting his first year in 2008, made his first appearance at M.M. Roberts Stadium in 2009. With Cameron Zipp on the roster at C for the Golden Eagles, Quattrochi began in a backup role, playing many of his RS freshman snaps on special teams, and occasionally as a backup to Zipp on the OL. This was time that Quattrochi appreciated, and he credited Zipp in an interview earlier this year with helping to really bring along his game and develop him as both a student and an athlete. As a sophomore, Austin continued to back-up the starters on the OL at Southern Miss, but did contribute significantly in 13 games, including 3 starts, playing right accoss the line on a unit that suffered more than its fair share of injuries. In 2011, Austin finally got his chance, starting all 14 games of the season at C, recording over 80 knockdown blocks on his way to a very solid year in which he never graded lower than 73%. His play helped South Miss to a 12-2 record and their first C-USA championship since 2003. Now in his senior year, Quattrochi will want to finish his college career in style, attempting to repeat his performances of 2011 and keep the Golden Eagles atop the C-USA for the second year in a row.


That's it for this edition of the Rimington Profiles. We will continue to profile the other Rimington Watch List nominees throughout the 2012 NCAA season, and now with the added benefit of seeing how they're getting on as they begin their bids for greatness! Make sure to check back to Episodes 1 and 2 to see who you've missed previously, and keep an eye out for Episode 4 coming soon - including guys from the Mountain West, Big East and Big 10. And if on the off-chance you're a Watch List member yourself who hasn't yet been featured, drop us a line on thepullinglinemen@gmail.com and we'll work something out!

- Phil Gaskin (@sosayitisaid)
- The Pulling Linemen

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