To those that follow football, the term "star center" sounds a bit out of place.
The position is far from a glamorous one. The quarterback is the face of the team. The skill position players score touchdowns or prevent them. The defensive linemen sometimes get to show off their dance moves after a sack. Even the punters and kickers command every eyeball in the stands during parts of the game.
Even on the offensive line, the center can be anonymous. The tackles are hailed as blindside protectors. The center is simply the guy who snaps the ball, then fades into the static of the play while photographers snap the smaller players and the faster players. The star players.
Greg Mancz is different. Greg Mancz is a star center.
In a position unmeasured by traditional statistics, Mancz finished out his Toledo Rockets career as a four-year starter and one of the most decorated players to call the Glass Bowl home. He earned freshman All-American honors in his first season, was third-team All-MAC as a sophomore and second-team All-MAC as a junior before finishing off his college career with a flourish.
Mancz's senior year was recognized with a first-team All-MAC selection, a spot on the All-American second team and the MAC's Vern Smith Leadership Award, the title given to the top player in the MAC as determined by the conference's coaches. He was Toledo's third winner in the 33-year history of the award (joining Wasean Tait and Bruce Gradkowski), and the only offensive lineman to ever win the honor.
Despite playing tackle and guard earlier in his career, Mancz featured as a center during his senior season, anchoring a line that produced the nation's 12th-best running attack. The Rockets piled up 256 rushing yards per game on 5.79 yards per carry, a number that bested even national champion Ohio State's juggernaut ground game. As a center, Mancz was asked to clear out inside lanes (often pulling) for Kareem Hunt and company, and he was able to win his battles more often than not.
All of this shows that Mancz was highly regarded by the college football world. As he enters NFL Draft season, his next task will be to look like a star to professional scouts and decision-makers.
Fortunately for the Cincinnati native, his college accomplishments have put him on the map ahead of the draft. CBS Sports sees him as this draft's eighth-best center, while Draft Countdown places him in sixth and NFL.com calls him fifth. An selection to January's East-West Shrine Game gave scouts a chance to weigh in on Mancz, and the expert analysis shows a wide variation.
Per Rotoworld, views on Mancz's pro prospects range from "long-time starter" to "Round 7 fodder." Consensus places him as a likely third-day pick with the variability of going anywhere from round four to round seven. NFL.com's Lance Zierlein praises Mancz as a "technician" with polished positional skills and appealing versatility, but notes he may need to add strength and bulk to his relatively slim 6-foot-5, 300-pound build (for comparison, Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick, the most recent center to be selected in the first round, carried 315 pounds on his 6-foot-3 frame entering the 2013 draft).
Mancz's ability to showcase himself took a hit when he suffered a torn labrum during Shrine Game practices, but his invitation to the game and his many accolades should ensure he will continue to receive attention in the lead-up to the draft.
Time will tell if an NFL team will see him as its star center.