It takes a special talent and an unselfish attitude to be an offensive lineman. The "big uglies" do not receive a lot of attention until they give up a sack or miss a blocking assignment on a crucial fourth-down play.
Charleston Southern senior center Jordan Lancaster does not play the game to receive special recognition, but the 6-3, 290-pounder from Ocean Isle, N.C., gets plenty of it.
Lancaster entered the season as a Big South preseason all-conference selection. He will make his 30th career start -- 20th consecutive -- on Saturday against Mars Hill.
Lancaster was part of one of the top offensive lines in the Big South last season but is the lone starting senior among the group this season.
"Your strength goes right down the middle, and that's why Jordan plays the position he plays," said Buccaneers coach Jay Mills. "He could play any position on the offensive line, because he's that talented. He has all the intangibles, and he has great work ethic. He is an excellent tactician and he's the quarterback of the offensive line."
Lancaster came to CSU in 2006 as a tackle, making seven starts at left tackle as a true freshman on a team that finished 9-2.
He was moved to the right side in his sophomore year, but that season was cut short in the third game when he suffered a torn ACL.
When he returned to action the following year, there was a void at center, where all-conference selection Rick Howell had graduated. Lancaster immediately moved to center and has been there since.
"The adjustment to center was actually pretty easy, and I kind of feel like that's the natural position for me," said Lancaster after practice Wednesday. "I love being the guy that makes the calls up front. It's important that I know what I'm doing and that I know the game plan. I have to be the guy to recognize the stunts and the blitzes and make sure the entire line knows what we're doing.
"But in reality, no position on the line is any more important than the other. We all work as a unit, as a team. If one of us messes up, it's on all of us."
Lancaster is also accomplished off the field. He is a six-time CSU scholar-athlete. He spends countless hours doing volunteer work at local elementary schools and church organizations. Not only was he named the Most Improved Offensive Lineman during the spring, he also received the CSU Football Total Athlete Award.
Just before the season began, Lancaster was selected as one of 112 athletes from across the country for the AFCA Good Works Team watch list.
"What I do off the field is very important to me and it is something I take very seriously," he said. "There are a lot more important things than playing football, and I feel I have a responsibility to do what I can to help others.
"I know there are a lot of people out there who are doing a lot more than I am. My praise goes out to all of those people who may not be getting recognized for everything that they are doing."
Mills says Lancaster's balance and commitment to excellence on and off the field is what sets him apart from the average college player.
"He is the example of a great leader on and off the field," the coach said. "If you are looking for a true renaissance man who is well-balanced physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, I think Jordan would be our poster individual for Charleston Southern football."