What Is A Center In Football

A center in football is an offensive player that is responsible for snapping the football and protecting the quarterback from defenders. This position lines up right in the middle of the offense. And are one of only two positions that touch the ball every play.

Additionally centers often identify which defenders the offensive line will block. This is why you will often see them point out defenders prior to the ball being snapped.


Snapping The Ball

The aspect of the center position is that sets it apart from the rest is snapping the ball to the quarterback. On each play, the center will pass the ball back to the quarterback between his legs to signal the start of the play.

Though snapping the ball is usually done without error a mistake can be costly. An inaccurate snap can easily cause a turnover. This makes the act of snapping the ball a very important aspect of the game.

And no before you ask the center cannot run with the ball instead of snapping it to the quarterback.

Pass Protection

A center also plays a key role in pass protection. As the offensive lineman in the middle of the line centers are most likely to take on defensive tackles in pass protection.

Defensive tackles are the strongest players on the defense making this a difficult task. Though, due to centers playing in the middle of the line they have a much easier time pass blocking than players on the end of the line like tackles.

Leading The Offensive Line

Another responsibility of the center is to lead the offensive line. Despite not being paid the most, centers are often considered the quarterbacks of the offensive line.

This puts the center in charge of communication among the lineman as well as communication from the line to the quarterback. Once the center gets into position this lets the quarterback know that the offensive line is ready for the play.

If the center is speaking to other linemen and pointing out defenders the quarterback will know not to start his cadence.

Center Attributes

Like all positions, there are a few key attributes that most centers have which allow them to excel at the position. Let’s take a look at some of the key factors necessary to be a great center.


Strength is a rather obvious trait but one that is needed when it comes to playing the center position. As we stated earlier centers are typically responsible for taking on the opposing teams defensive tackles.

Defensive tackles are the largest and strongest players on the field making this quite a tough task. Additionally, this position is often tasked with blocking these players on pass plays as well as moving them out of the way on rushing plays.

This means strength is a crucial factor of playing the center position.


Though it may seem strange effective communication is one of the most important attributes a center can have. When playing this position you need to be sure that you and your teammates are on the same page.

One lapse in communication can quickly become a turnover when playing the center position.

Football IQ

Football IQ is another important factor when playing center. As we stated earlier it is common for the center to point out which defenders each lineman should block.

This sort of football IQ can be instrumental in stopping blitzes. As the center can often identify which players need to be picked up and by whom.

This position also always has to be aware of the current situation on the field. If the quarterback decides he is going to get off a quick snap. It is up to center to get into position quickly as the formation is going to be built around him in the center.


When it comes to build, centers like most offensive linemen are one of the largest players on the roster. That being said it is not uncommon for tackles to be taller and heavier than most centers.

Since they play in the middle of the line they do not need as much length in order to stop the rushers. This is because their pass blocking sets are typically played in closer quarters than that of a tackle.


As you likely already know by the name this position lines up right in the middle of the offense. Where ever the ball is being snapped on the field is where the player will position himself.

The rest of the formation will then build themselves around the center.

Concluding Thoughts

We hope this guide has answered the question of what is a center in football. If you have any more questions regarding this position of football be sure to reach out in the comments below.

That is all on the center position in football if you want to learn other offensive positions see our guides to the rb position or the wr position.

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