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AP All-Big Ten Football

Ohio State offensive lineman Billy Price celebrates during the first half of the Big Ten championship game against Wisconsin, in Indianapolis.

Billy Price had a unique pregame ritual at Ohio State.

Before football games, home or away, he flipped through that day's game program as a way to relax and maybe learn something.

If he flips through the program that accompanies the Rimington Trophy presentation Saturday night at the Rococo Theatre, Price might notice something unique, something that would make him proud.

Ohio State becomes the first school to have three winners of the trophy that's been awarded annually since 2000 to the nation's best center as determined by the Rimington committee.

Price was the pick for this year, Pat Elflein won last year and LeCharles Bentley in 2001.

"I really imagined when I put this together that there would be a lot of Nebraska guys in the mix," said Dave Rimington, who was awarded two Outland Trophies (1981-82) as Nebraska's starting center. "We've had a little drought with Nebraska centers recently, but hopefully it will pick up."

Ex-Husker Dominic Raiola won the inaugural Rimington Trophy. Since then, it's been mostly crickets for the home school.

Perhaps that'll change with Scott Frost as Nebraska's new head coach.

"The only way you can really get some attention (as a center) is to win a lot of games and be a solid center, or your team rushes for a lot of yards," Rimington said. "If you're a pure passing team, it's really tough on a center because the only time you get any recognition is when you get beat, or make a mistake.

"I think Nebraska's going to run the ball (with Frost in charge). They're out there looking for dual-threat quarterbacks, so I anticipate they're going to run quite a bit."

With Frost as head coach in 2017, undefeated Central Florida finished 33rd nationally in rushing offense, averaging 198.7 yards.

Meanwhile, Ohio State, 12-2 and champion of the rugged Big Ten, was 17th in rushing (243.2) and seventh in total offense (506.0).

"I guess the Ohio State coach is the Rimington whisperer," Rimington said of Urban Meyer. "He's got two in a row."

The 6-foot-4, 312-pound Price, who starred at Fitch High in Austintown, Ohio, beat out Rimington finalists Will Clapp of LSU and Bradley Bozeman of Alabama.

Like Elflein, Price's move from guard to center as a senior paid off in a big way.

"I think it shows how important the center position is," Rimington said. "They want a good guy right at the pivot point."

Meyer seems to know what he's doing, as he's 73-8 and 47-3 in conference play in six season at Ohio State.

"It just shows you the importance of having a guy like Meyer there who can get all the pieces together," Rimington said. "He seems to keep feeding the beast with new recruits. They've got it going on there. And the Big Ten as a league has gotten a lot better since Nebraska entered (in 2011).

"We need to keep up and get better ourselves."

Rimington obviously keeps close tabs on his alma mater — which is why he was thrilled earlier this week when it was announced ex-Nebraska guard/center Aaron Taylor will be part of the College Football Hall of Fame's class of 2018.

Rimington also is a Hall member.

"Just from his response, you can tell how much football means to him and how much Nebraska means to him," Rimington said. "That's always a great thing, when you see a fellow Husker get the spotlight he deserves."

Reach the writer at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com. On Twitter @HuskerExtraSip.

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Husker columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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