2012 First Look: Rimington & Mackey
Ohio State TE Jake Stoneburner
Ohio State TE Jake Stoneburner
Posted Mar 8, 2012

The way-too-early first look at the 2012 awards: Rimington & Mackey

2012 Spring Football    

First Look: The Awards

2012 Spring Preview: First Look At The Awards
- Heisman, Maxwell, & Davey O'Brien
- Outland, Bednarik, & Lombardi | Doak Walker & Biletnikoff
- Rimington & Mackey | Butkus & Thorpe | Lou Groza & Ray Guy

By Richard Cirminiello 
Follow Us ... #ColFootballNews  

It's way too early to start bandying about the names of the most prominent candidates for 2012's individual awards in college football, right? Whatever. It's March and wild speculation is one of the joys of the offseason. It's a chance to debate, mull over and contemplate next year's stars with complete impunity.

Will lists of contenders in January be spot on in December? Of course not. Will they make you think and pine for September? Probably. And that's really the objective here, whetting appetites, generating some interesting discussions and taking a sneak peek into what might be lurking ahead for the upcoming season.

Top Center (Rimington Trophy)

6. Graham Pocic, Illinois
Pocic has been a rock in the middle for the Illini, starting the last two dozen games in-a-row. At 6-7 and 305 pounds, he uses his long arms to keep opposing linemen at an appropriate distance.

5. Mario Benavides, Louisville
Benavides overcame an ankle injury last offseason to start in the middle for the Cardinals for the third straight season. He's a steady presence up front, the kind of leader who makes those around him better.

4. Travis Swanson, Arkansas
After just two seasons, Swanson has quickly emerged as one of the game's premier centers. Even as he's grown to 305 pounds, he's maintained the agility and light feet of a tight end.

3. Khaled Holmes, USC
After correcting issues with his snaps, the converted guard excelled at center, earning Second Team All-Pac-12 honors. The athletic big man gets off the ball and into the second level in a hurry.

2. Ben Habern, Oklahoma
Habern is a blue-collar, no-nonsense blocker, and one of the most assertive members of the Sooners front. His pursuit of postseason honors in 2011 was stunted by a wrist injury that shelved him for half the season.

1. Dalton Freeman, Clemson
The First Team All-ACC center flashed versatility, making a smooth transition to a totally new offense in 2011. He's smart, tough and nimble, a great combination for a center.


Barrett Jones, Alabama
if Jones really does stay at center and doesn't move back to tackle, this could be his for the taking. He'll work in the middle this offseason, but he could turn out to be way too valuable on the outside. 

Top Tight End (Mackey Award)

10. Chris Gragg, Arkansas
Gragg really came into his own as a junior, catching 40 balls for 492 yards and two scores. He'll be even more valuable to Tyler Wilson next fall as the Hogs adjust to life without two of their best receivers.

9. Jake Stoneburner, Ohio State
The offense is changing under Urban Meyer, but Stoneburner's role remains integral. While he'll do a fair amount of blocking, he'll also get plenty of chances in the passing game. Think Aaron Hernandez at Florida.

8. Levine Toilolo, Stanford
Whoever succeeds Andrew Luck will spend plenty of time looking for the 6-8, 255-pound Toilolo, who caught six touchdown passes in 2011. He and Zach Ertz will form the best tight end duo in the country.

7. Joseph Fauria, UCLA
One of the pleasant surprises in Westwood a year ago, Fauria led the team with six touchdown catches. At 6-8 and 252 pounds, he's impossible for even Bruins quarterbacks to miss.

6. Jacob Pedersen, Wisconsin
A Mackey Award semifinalist in 2011, Pedersen caught eight touchdown passes. He's the total package at the position, blending physicality as a blocker with the soft hands of a dangerous target.

5. Randall Telfer, USC
One of the rising stars at the position, Telfer caught 26 balls for 273 yards and five scores in his debut out of high school. He'll be an ideal outlet for Matt Barkley when receivers Robert Woods and Marqise Lee are getting maximum attention.

4. Philip Lutzenkirchen, Auburn
The Tigers' Mr. Reliable, a sure-handed mid-range target in the passing game, has produced 14 touchdowns out of his 44 career receptions.

3. Gavin Escobar, San Diego State
Like having another wideout on the field, Escobar busted opposing seams for 51 receptions, 780 yards and seven touchdowns. He'll really need to step up now that QB Ryan Lindley and RB Ronnie Hillman are gone.

2. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
The good-as-advertised recruit debuted in Seattle with 41 catches and six touchdown grabs. The best is yet to come for the 6-6, 258-pound athlete.

1. Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame
The next outstanding pass-catcher at Tight End U. caught 63 balls for 803 yards and five touchdowns last season. He's done a seamless job of taking the baton from Kyle Rudolph in South Bend.

2012 Spring Preview: First Look At The Awards
- Heisman, Maxwell, & Davey O'Brien
- Outland, Bednarik, & Lombardi | Doak Walker & Biletnikoff
- Rimington & Mackey | Butkus & Thorpe | Lou Groza & Ray Guy