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Race is on to replace Reese Dismukes as Auburn's center
March 25, 2015

Xavier Dampeer looking to jump into a starting role at Auburn

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. -- All Xavier Dampeer and Austin Golson are trying to do this football season is replace one of the most successful centers in Auburn history.

Such is their mission to step in for Reese Dismukes, who won the Rimington Trophy as the nation's best center, and who started more games in his career, 50, than any of his teammates when the 2014 season ended.

"They are pretty big shoes to fill. But I'm confident in my ability," said Dampeer during the first phase of Auburn's spring practice.

The Tigers practiced five times before taking this week off for spring break. They'll return to the practice field Tuesday looking for success, a new starting center.

Dampeer played center in high school and in junior college and managed to get in five games in late relief for Dismukes last season. Golson is getting his first shot at the position after playing mostly guard at Ole Miss and sitting out last season after transferring to Auburn.

He, too, is trying to replace a veteran who was recognized as one of the best.

"Not many come around like him," Golson said. "He's a really good player. I've learned a lot from him. I just tried to pick up on some of the stuff he did, and he helped me, and I learned a lot from him."

Golson said he's happy to compete for the center spot, or any spot, after sitting out.

"Just being able to get back out there and compete and trying to earn a starting spot is great," he says. "It was tough, but I just had to fight through it. I made a very good decision. I got better, a lot healthier, but I wish I could have played as well."

It's a truly wide-open race, considering Dismukes was the mainstay at the position for four years.

"That's definitely making be work harder because I want to be on the field. I've just got to trust in the coaches. I know they'll make the right decision," Golson said.

Dampeer said he's using the spring to, hopefully, "showcase my talents to try to impress the coaches. I really want this position. It's competition, that's the name of the game. It's nothing new to me. I've had to compete all of my life."

Blocking is just part of the equation. The center has to identify the blocking schemes, and he doesn't have much time to do it in Gus Malzahn's fast-paced offense.

"I like that. It makes me feel like I'm in control out there," Dampeer said. "I take pride in making the right calls.

"The defense isn't lined up yet, but you still have to ID the right guy. But that comes with the job description. I won't complain about. We have one of the best offenses in college football."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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