We’re just over 40 days from the start of the 2013 college football season, and that means preview countdowns! In the past, we’ve limited these lists to just the top 25 players, but this season, we’re upping our game to 50. So just about every day until the season starts, there will be a new player profile up here as we count down to the top ACC player for 2013.
Obviously these lists are always completely subjective — and thus completely bulletproof — so feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments, too.
Centers don’t always receive proper praise, but perhaps that changes this year, should FSU’s Bryan Stork start raking in awards. Already on the Rimington Trophy watch list, the senior should anchor the Seminoles’ offensive line this year with experience (27 starts in his career) and pure brute strength. At 6’4″ and 312 pounds, he’s an imposing fellow and team leader; one who’s also a large part of Florida State’s highly effective running attack. The Noles’ 5.62 yards per carry last year was the fourth-best figure in the country, while the 40 rushing scores were ninth. You don’t pull that off without an interior line push, which makes his return this fall so important for their offense.
Grading offensive linemen is not a fool-proof system — I’d contend it’s one of the tougher pieces of the puzzle when evaluating talent — but for what it’s worth, Stork actually scores rather high in most measures. Seminoles.com says he scored an 85.6 during the 2012 season (best on the team), and also tallied 26 knockdowns. If you’d like to see some film breakdown of Stork, I’d also recommend a trip over to Tomahawk Nation. It’s those sessions that really give you the full picture of just how excellent he is — making adjustments on the fly and laying blocks he shouldn’t be able to make so easily. Despite his size, Stork has managed to remain agile, posting 40-yard dash times in the 4.9/5.0-second range. With quick feet like that, it’s awful hard for opposing defenders to get an angle on him, as evidenced by the results last season.
What’ll be more interesting this year is if Stork continues to progress. Standout offensive tackle Menelik Watson is gone, which will automatically put a bit more pressure on the rest of the line. However, he’s the only starter who doesn’t return. With such an experienced group, Stork could actually end up putting up even better numbers, as the pressure is more evenly distributed. There’s a depth concern behind those players, sure. But that’s not Stork’s issue. He’s proven himself to be an incredibly durable player over the course of his career and that should set him up well to succeed both this season and beyond in the pros.