When the Arizona Wildcats started fall practice last week, it seemed as though the starting center job would be Carter Wood's to lose. But now that Wood's career is over with a chronic foot injury, some guys that have never played center before are now the leading candidates.
Rich Rodriguez has said himself that Cayman Bundage and Zach Hemmila are the top two candidates for the job right now, but both have always been guards.
Hemmila explains what he's had to learn to become an effective center in practice.
Q: How does it feel to maybe get more playing time?
Hemmila: Oh, it's a big opportunity, but I still gotta step up and prove that I can play because there's a lot of competition on my back to take my spot. I've gotta compete with Cayman and all the guys that have come in to play center.
How is the competition improving your game?
The competition makes it that much better. It makes me want to work that much harder, and prove that I'm a trustworthy o-lineman for the rest of those guys.
How does losing Carter change your reps in practice?
I get one extra rep during team, but it's the same thing. I just gotta keep proving myself.
What's the biggest difference between playing guard and playing center?
Snapping the ball. And you have to hit off your first step and not your second step. I've played guard all my life, and tackle, so that's kind of natural, but the center thing's not as natural, so in the offseason, it's harder going up against someone just holding a pad then it's completely different going against someone who's straight, right in front of you. So it takes a little bit to get used to.
Has that been the biggest learning curve for you?
Yeah, just snapping the ball and being able to do all that at the same time.