A year ago during spring practice at Cal, Brian Schwenke tried playing center for the first time in his football career.
This week, he expects to be drafted to play the position in the NFL.
“I’d never snapped a football. Now I feel more comfortable at center than I ever did at guard,” he said. “The way football works out, it’s what I’m more naturally built to do. Get that football out of there and go. It works for me.”
Schwenke, who started the two previous seasons at guard, was moved to center partly to benefit the team, partly because it could enhance his professional prospects.
Without the change, Schwenke admitted this week, “I probably wouldn’t be getting as much love as im getting.”
The 6-foot-3, 314-pound native of San Diego is getting enough love he anticipates being taken either Friday, when the second and third rounds are conducted, or Saturday, during the final four rounds.
The first round of the NFL draft will be held Thursday, beginning at 5 p.m.
Online mock drafts by the Bleacher Report and Walter Football both project Schwenke to go in the fourth round. He will be the second center taken in the draft, both said.
Modestly rated the No. 44 offensive guard prospect in the country coming out of high school, Schwenke has gained favor in recent weeks because of his versatility.
“Absolutely. Teams can only dress seven or eight offensive linemen come game day and I can play either position,” Schwenke said. “Teams definitely are interested in that. It’s one of the big reasons why my stock is rising.”
Former Cal coach Jeff Tedford is convinced Schwenke is ready for the next level.
“He came in undersized, but he could always run and is very athletic,” Tedford said. “He’s very smart and highly competitive. And he’s played two positions, which always helps.”
The official NFL combine report said Schwenke “lacks great power” and is “not an impressive body type.”
But he got high marks for experience at two positions and quickness.
“Extremely quick off the snap, gets his hands on his target very quickly,” the analysis said. “Quick to provide assistance on a double team, and aware of who needs help. Plays with a good, low pad level. Constantly wins the leverage battle.”
If Schwenke is confident and comfortable about the position he will play in the NFL, he’s entirely without any sense of where he might do it. Besides his week at the combine, he visited four teams and worked out for two more in Berkeley.
“Come draft day, you don’t have much control over what happens. It just turns into a whirlwind,” he said.
So no clue about his destination?
“Not at all,” he said. “Not even close.”
Where former Cal players are likely go to in the 2013 NFL draft:
— WR Keenan Allen, late first through through early second round
— C Brian Schwenke, third or fourth round
— CB Steve Williams, sixth or seventh round
— CB Marc Anthony, seventh round or free agent
— RB C.J. Anderson, free agent
— DL Aaron Tipoti, free agent
— OT Matthew Summers-Gavin, free agent
— DL Kendrick Payne, free agent