Sean Welsh hasn't officially played a down of center in his college football career. He didn’t participate in Iowa’s April 23 spring game, either.
Yet the Hawkeye junior-to-be has made the Rimington Trophy watch list, which was released Tuesday. The list will be winnowed from Tuesday’s 57 names to three finalists over the next seven months, after which point college football’s top center will be crowned.
Our HawkCentral.com website won’t trumpet every watch-list Hawkeye from now until December. But it’s a slow news month and it’s the first major-award watch list, one that illustrates the absurdity of early, expansive watch lists.
There’s probably a 30 to 50 percent chance Welsh won’t even be Iowa’s starting center next fall. He was only there in the spring because projected starter James Daniels was out following knee surgery.
However, as spring practice went along, coaches warmed to the idea of making Welsh — who has 23 career starts at Iowa (21 at guard, two at tackle) — the successor to Rimington finalist and 49-game Hawkeye starter Austin Blythe. Offensive coordinator Greg Davis said Welsh was "built like a center," and Iowa relies heavily on its ball-snapper so experience is preferred.
On our Hawk Central radio show a few weeks ago, we asked Iowa offensive line coach Brian Ferentz if he agreed with the prediction that Welsh would be the opening-day center.
“My take on that is that if the Miami of Ohio game was tomorrow, you would be correct,” Ferentz replied, before deadpanning, “We’ll practice probably about 35 times between now and then. So a lot could change.
“We’re excited to get James back in the lineup. Sean did a nice job at center during spring. We’re just going to have to figure out where all the pieces fit. But I don’t think you’re crazy.”