Position battles to watch this spring: No. 3

Spring football started Tuesday, so the competition for positions is officially under way and under the watchful eyes of Brady Hoke and his staff. This week, we’re counting down the five position battles you should also keep an eye on during the next month.

No. 3: Center

Who’s in the mix: Graham Glasgow, Patrick Kugler, Jack Miller, Blake Bars

What to watch: It shouldn't be a surprise that the offensive line is making an appearance on this countdown (and it won’t be the last time, either). There was a lot of shuffling at center last season. Miller started the first four games and Glasgow finished out the season. The interior offensive line struggled so much that it’s hard to really pinpoint anything, but it’s obvious the center spot was far from stout. Glasgow is remembered for his few badly botched snaps (against Michigan State and Nebraska), but he definitely showed improvement as the season went on. The big question will be whether he can keep the position, if it will turn back to Miller (unlikely) or if a younger guy such as Kugler or Bars (both took reps at center during bowl practice) can step in. Bars seems like a better fit outside, but Michigan made the move out of necessity during those practices. Most likely, this position race will come down to Glasgow and Kugler.

Glasgow was formerly a guard, and he's probably better suited there naturally. Kugler came in as a true center. At 6-foot-5 and 287 pounds, Kugler has good size for a center, though he needs to put on more weight. The average size of the six finalists for the Rimington Trophy last season was 6-4 and 304 pounds, so Kugler is still a bit small in comparison. However, Kugler is a bit more compact than Glasgow and has the benefit of spending a year in the playbook and weight room before playing a down for the Wolverines.

They say that if there’s going to be youth on the offensive line, it’s best to have it on the outside, which will likely be the case for the Wolverines in 2014. The opposite was shown this past season, as the youth was on the interior and Michigan averaged an almost-conference-worst 3.3 yards per rush and allowed 36 sacks, which was better than just two other Big Ten teams. Glasgow certainly has the upper hand when it comes to experience and the in-game chemistry he already gained with the likely guard starters, Kyle Bosch and Kyle Kalis. However, with Kugler’s football pedigree -- his father, Sean, is currently the head coach at UTEP and is a former offensive line coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Buffalo Bills -- and his time spent solely learning the scheme with Darrell Funk, Kugler could make this a battle.

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