So at some point early last year, when talking about how much the offensive line had improved since the year before, JUCO mentioned to me that Evan Swindall was perhaps the weakest spot along the offensive line but had still improved a great deal. Thrust into playing tough SEC teams before his body was fully developed, Swindall did struggle with blocking, despite being a reliable snapper and signal-caller for the offensive line. To his credit, Swindall did remain injury-free on a depth-less line, and the QB-center exchange was never something we had reason to worry about.
Now, the narrative has done a full 180 with regards to the 6'4, 299 lb Senior center; while no one is calling Evan the most talented guy we have, there is talk that he is the most reliable, and perhaps the best player on the offensive front. That's an encouraging thing that we're seeing at multiple positions this year (I think): guys who we perhaps wrote off too soon, now becoming dependable or even very good SEC players. Seems like Swindall might be the best example of that, but you're also seeing guys like Woodrow Hamilton, Bryon Bennett, Carlos Thompson, and Cody Core that are now considered much more valuable than they were a year ago. It's also worthy of mention (and I've seen this written elsewhere), that we have two senior leaders (in Swindall and Mike Marry) who are good players as well as leaders, who were originally grayshirt players. That's pretty impressive in my eyes; these are two guys who the coaches essentially put on the back burner.
An interesting piece of news has been Robert Conyer's (a rs-FR, listed at 6'3, 286) shift over to center. Robert was a redshirted, backup tackle last year. The story last year was that he showed a lot of physicality and promise. With incoming stars Laremy Tunsil and Austin Golson, Conyers was shifted over to center, where he has been running some with the 2nd team. Conyers appeared to have passed JUCO walk-on Austin Douglas; Douglas has transferred in search of playing time. Ben Still (a true sophomore listed at 6'2, 289) is another project at center, though it seems like the best way for him to get on the field is as a utility backup at guard and center.