Who’s the best center in the country? Gary Patterson believes he might play for TCU.

TCU coach Gary Patterson offered big-time praise for center Steve Avila this week.

“I think Steve Avila is going to be one of the best centers in the country, if not the best,” Patterson said. “He’s a really good player. He’s 330 pounds and can really move side to side. I’ve been very impressed with him [this spring].”

Avila is coming off a standout sophomore season in which he showed his versatility. He started nine games at three different positions (six at center, two at right tackle and one at right guard) and held his own.

Avila was named to the Rimington Trophy watch list, which is given to the nation’s top center every year, and was named honorable mention All-Big 12. It hasn’t been an easy road for Avila, though.

Avila stepped on campus having never snapped the ball as a four-star prospect out of South Grand Prairie. He played left tackle in high school and spent his redshirt freshman season at TCU playing tackle on the scout team in 2018.

Then he moved inside, playing guard and center, in 2019. He was the team’s backup center for the 2019 season before moving into a starting role in 2020.

Asked about his transition from tackle to center last season, Avila said: “I really had to learn how to snap the ball. I never snapped the ball until I got here. It was a learning process. I messed up a lot, but I learned a lot as well. That’s how I got to where I am today.”

Avila is among several offensive linemen who are playing well this spring, according to Patterson.

Positive things are also coming out of the football offices regarding Memphis transfer Obinna Eze, who is expected to take over at left tackle for the since-departed TJ Storment (Texas Tech).

TCU also has experienced players returning who started games last year in Andrew Coker, Wes Harris, John Lanz, Blake Hickey and Coy McMillon. The O-line has depth and competition, too, with several young players pushing for playing time.

“The whole offensive line is vastly improved,” Patterson said. “Every day we get better. All of our number two’s are redshirt freshmen.”

TCU is coming off a season in which it had the Big 12’s top-ranked rushing offense. The Horned Frogs are in the midst of spring football with the spring scrimmage set for April 17 at Amon G. Carter Stadium.

The 2021 season opener against Duquesne is set for Sept. 4 at home.

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