As we continue our march to kickoff, we take a look at the top 100 recruits to sign with Auburn of all-time*. The rankings are based on 247’s composite recruit rankings, which unfortunately only date back to 2000.
“Dismukes is one of the best center prospects in the country. He understands the position and does a great job reading the defense. He is explosive off the ball and continues to move his feet until the whistle is blown.” - Andrew Bone, 247 Sports
Any time you’re ranked as the best at your position in the country, you’re probably pretty good. Such was the case with Dismukes, who earned the distinction of being the best high school center in the country in the 2011 class. Dismukes committed to Auburn over Alabama, Florida State, and other blue bloods at a time when Auburn was desperately needing to replenish the offensive line.
After the magic that was 2010, Auburn had a ton of vacancies on the offensive line. At center, Ryan Pugh had just been a four year starter for the Tigers, and there wasn’t an obvious backup ready to take the job. So when Dismukes arrived in Auburn for the fall, it wasn’t a total shock when he claimed the starting role at center.
Pugh ended up starting every game in the 2011 season, one of only two players on that team to accomplish that. Despite an offense that had to replace every position besides running back from the year prior, Dismukes helped Michael Dyer maintain Auburn’s 1,000 yard streak. There’s not a ton of positives to share about the offense in this season, but most of that comes down to the lack of experience across the board and lack of quarterback talent specifically.
One of many impending signs of doom leading into 2012, Dismukes was arrested for public intoxication in downtown Auburn just a week before the opener against Clemson. Chizik held him out of the game, which may have been more of a punishment to new starter Kiehl Frazier than anyone. Dismukes returned to the lineup the next week, and only missed the Ole Miss game (injury) the rest of the year.
Dismukes seemed to have earned his way into the good graces of the new regime in 2013, however, as he was a pre-game captain in all 14 games that season. He was also on pretty much every preseason award watchlist that he could qualify for. Of course, we know how insanely successful Auburn was running the ball in 2013, and having an elite center in Dismukes went a long way in setting the stage for that attack. Dismukes ended the year as a Rimington finalist and earned an All-SEC nod.
As a senior and fourth year starter in 2014, Dismukes was the best center in the country, winning the Rimington Award and being a finalist for the Outland Trophy. He was earned consensus All-SEC and All-American nods, leaving little doubt that he was at the top of the country in terms of offensive lineman. With 50 career starts over his four years, he was a steady rock in an unsteady offense. And no, we don’t have to talk about the Texas A&M game. This is one of the rare cases where you can say a recruit who was already the highest rated recruit in the country at their position STILL outplayed the hype.
After 8 years of dominant center play, Auburn has struggled to find a long term solution at the position. Austin Golson moved from guard over to center to take over for Dismukes in 2015 and played well enough at the position, though injuries cost him the end of the year. Golson would bounce back and forth across the offensive line as needed until he graduated after the 2017 season, and transfers Xavier Dampeer and Casey Dunn each started a handful of games at center as well. The position was a disaster in 2018, as long-time backup Kaleb Kim and redshirt freshman Nick Brahms manned the center job, usually with disastrous results. While the experience will certainly help, the two will have to figure it out in 2019 for the Auburn offense to be successful. Playing center is one of those unglorified jobs where being noticed probably means you’re making big mistakes. Reese Dismukes was a master of going unnoticed.
IN THE NFL
After racking up all of the awards in 2014, Dismukes graduated but went undrafted by the NFL. After signing with the Steelers as a UDFA, he was cut from the practice squad just before the season started. He would end up sticking around with the Panthers’ and later Broncos’ practice squads, but never made it into a regular season game. The former all-american retired from football after the 2017 season.