OSU football: Evan Epstein's intelligence a big advantage at center position

Evan Epstein is trying to replace Grant Garner at one of football's most cerebral positions. Though he possesses the strength and size to play center, what his Cowboy teammates and coaches rave most about is Epstein's intelligence.
by Gina Mizell Published: April 7, 2012
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But after a season at the Academy, he still had that strong desire to play football at a school from a major conference. He told Persinger he was going to walk on at OSU — and promised he'd someday become the starter. Though Persinger told Epstein he needed to get stronger, he never doubted the player's competitive nature.

“If there's any kind of battle for anything, Evan's not going to lose,” Persinger said. “I'll tell you that right now. This has been a lifelong dream. I'm sure the other kid (Jenkins) is a fantastic player, but I just know what drives Evan and that innate ability.”

Epstein primarily played on special teams during the past two seasons but took an occasional snap at right guard. He's always been drawn to playing center, though. He likes being able to touch the ball before every play, and he likes the sense of control the position provides in OSU's up-tempo, no-huddle offense.

That control comes from the center's wide range of responsibilities. So many that former OSU quarterback Brandon Weeden called Garner the Cowboys' most valuable offensive player in 2011.

The center must make the offensive line calls for a complicated scheme, something Epstein observed and learned while “getting inside the mind of Grant” the past two seasons. The center must also handle those big defensive tackles and linebackers trying to plug the holes designed for the running backs or get to the quarterback.

And then there's the snap, which is especially important for an OSU offense that runs exclusively out of the shotgun. That was evident last week, when Epstein missed two practices because of pneumonia and there were several bad snaps in his absence.

Epstein knows the mental part of his game will be the most critical in securing that starting job and having success in 2012. But he wants to show he can be the complete package, rather than just the Cowboys' resident chess master. That specific skill can be reserved for Dad.

“I want to be the smartest center, I want to be the strongest center and the most physical and the most in shape,” Epstein said. “There are so many different aspects that I personally want to strive to succeed.

“Every day, I come out here and I try to focus on one thing at a time, but I want it to culminate into something special.”


by Gina Mizell
OSU Sports Reporter
Gina Mizell joined The Oklahoman in August of 2011 as the Oklahoma State beat writer, where she covered the Cowboys' historic run to the Big 12 championship and Fiesta Bowl in her first season on the job. Before arriving in Stillwater, Gina was...
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