What does it take to play the center position?

Michigan fifth-year senior center David Molk is not the biggest guy — he’s 6-foot-2 and just 286 pounds. Usually, it takes a player who’s two inches taller and 40 pounds heavier to play center.

Consistency is important. But Molk’s resolve was questioned after his redshirt sophomore season when he missed eight games due to foot and knee injuries.

He has started every game since, gaining a reputation for his smart play and nasty mean streak.

Too small and too injury prone no more, Molk was named the best center in the nation Thursday, as he was announced the winner of the 2011 Rimington Trophy.

“I am truly humbled to be the Rimington Trophy recipient,” Molk said in a statement. “It’s such an honor considering all of the great centers around the country, including the other finalists. It’s an individual award, but it’s a credit to our offensive line, our team and our coaching staff. I’m proud to represent the University of Michigan.”

Molk is now among elite company — only David Baas had previously won the award for Michigan in 2004.

Ever since the Wolverines finished their 10-2 season Molk has been showered with awards and accolades, having paved the way for the nation’s No. 11 rushing attack.

Along with winning the Rimington, Molk was also named a first-team Walter Camp All American on Thursday. His mantle was already crowded by his first-team All Big Ten selection and the inaugural Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year award, both of which the Big Ten bestowed on him last week.

Considered a thankless position, Michigan’s center has left his mark.

The Wolverines had two 1,000-yard rushers for the first time since 1975. They allowed just 15 sacks all year. And junior quarterback Denard Robinson made a smooth transition from a shotgun spread offense to a hybrid spread/pro-style one, with the help of Molk.

A week and a half ago, he described what it took to play the center position.

“I think that my perception of what it takes to play center … is different from the norm,” Molk said on Nov. 28. “Obviously, I’m not 6-(foot)-5. I’m not 315 pounds. I go about the game a much different way. Speed is everything. Strength is everything. Proper technique, great hands, great feet, great hip movement (and) hip explosion. There’s a lot of things that really go into the dynamics of all the blocks, because you have an even stance. You have a ball between your legs. There’s different types of snaps. There’s different types of techniques. Angles are different than any other position.

“In judging myself, I think that I did well. But at the same time, it’s never good enough. And that’s how I’ve gone my whole career.”

In 2011, there was no one better in Division-I college football.

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