this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
At work the other day I started wondering which U of M player might be the next inductee to the Professional Football Hall of Fame. Tom Brady is a lock, of course, but who else could possibly climb that mountain?
I went to the Pro Football HOF site
to do a little research. Here is Michigan’s current member list:
George Allen: Class of 2002
(Alma College, Marquette, Michigan, Eastern Michigan)
1966-1970 Los Angeles Rams, 1971-1977 Washington Redskins
Dan Dierdorf: Class of 1996
Tackle >>> 6-3, 275
1971-1983 St. Louis Cardinals
Len Ford: Class of 1976
Defensive End >>> 6-4, 245
(Morgan State, Michigan)
1948-1949 Los Angeles Dons (AAFC), 1950-1957 Cleveland Browns, 1958 Green Bay Packers
Bennie Friedman: Class of 2005
Quarterback >>> 5-10, 183
1927 Cleveland Bulldogs, 1928 Detroit Wolverines, 1929-1931 New York Giants, 1932-1934 Brooklyn Dodgers
Bill Hewitt: Class of 1971
End >>> 5-9, 190
1932-1936 Chicago Bears, 1937-1939 Philadelphia Eagles, 1943 Phil-Pitt
Elroy Crazylegs Hirsch: Class of 1968
Halfback, End >>> 6-2, 190
1946-1948 Chicago Rockets (AAFC), 1949-1957 Los Angeles Rams
Tom Mack: Thomas Lee Mack Class of 1999
Guard >>> 6-3, 250
1966-1978 Los Angeles Rams ***They have Dierdorf’s photo on Mack’s page or these guys are twins!
Ralph Wilson, Jr.: Class of 2009
In case you are wondering, this is how the Top Ten HOF Contributing schools work out:
Southern California (11)
Notre Dame (10)
Ohio State (6)
Penn State (5)
Southern Methodist (5)
The following is a list of random schools for the heck of it:
Washington of St. Louis (1)
Syracuse (5) Jim Brown, Larry Csonka, Al Davis* , John Mackey, Art Monk, Jim Ringo
Scottsbluff (1) Dick “Night Train” Lane
Northwestern (2) Otto Graham
Morgan State (3) Leroy Kelly
Minnesota (5) Bobby Bell, Carl Eller, Bud Grant, Bronko Nagurski, Leo Nomellini, Charlie Sanders
Miami NTO (2)
Miami (4) Jim Kelly, Jim Otto, Michael Irvin, Ted Hendricks
Fort Valley State (1) Rayfield Wright
Grambling (4) Willie Brown, Junious (Buck) Buchanan, Willie Davis, Charlie Joiner
Duke (3) Sonny Jurgenson
California Polytechnic (1) John Madden
Arizona State (4) Mike Haynes, John Henry Johnson* , Randall McDaniel, Charley Taylor
Illinois (4) Dick Butkus, Harold (Red) Grange, George Halas, Bobby Mitchell, Ray Nitschke, Hugh (Shorty) Ray
Iowa (3) Paul Krause, Andre Tippett* , Emlen Tunnell*
Louisville (1) Johnny Unitas
So, just for some off season discussion, let’s nominate possible candidates for future HOF induction (and any other junk you want to throw out). Off course, the list must start with….
If you look at my account info it says I have been on Mgoboard for 18 weeks and 2 days. I know that is not a lot of time compared to some of the people on this board but these weeks have had an impact on me that I am sure that this website/ message board has had on many of you. I have been a Michigan fan since I was 6 becoming this in a weird way by receiving a pair of pants with the UM logo and a Wolverine on it but before I came here I only knew one tenth of what it was to be a fan of the great University that is Michigan I went from being calm during games to screaming at the T.V. I went from watching 2 Wolverine basketball games a year to searching the internet for every game I could find yes that includes you the Northern Michigan and Savannah State fans. I even began watching UM hockey games with the same intensity that I would watch football even though I think that hockey should be banned from being a sport. A product of a overwhelming love fest that Canadian television has with the game. Recently though something has happened to me that I thought could never happen I began getting board on Mgoblog barely touching any threads that popped up that coming from a person who would read every thread then refresh it over and over until I got more substances to read. So I thought why this might be happening but then I found the fundamental differences between now and then before Mgoblog was a great place to talk to fellow Michigan fans with level headed people in smart topics. Now though there is completely off base and horrific threads about things that don’t matter yeah we know that Denard Robinson is fast but we don’t need to have 100 threads about him or about Greg Paulus. Also now people are making stupid comments saying that we are going to go undefeated and Terrell Pryor is getting slow and fat. Also no for the last time just because Ohio State has been winning games recently does not mean they pay off players just give them the respect they deserve. Anyways when looking at all these things I found that there is one thing missing between now and before. That something is the WLA crew before they acted as the unofficial police to the threads to the hate of some posters but that policing was the glue that kept this whole website together. I went to the WLA website and looked a the comments and found that it was just like before an enjoyable place to talk about football among other fun things that make it enjoyable to unwind after a hard day of school and the pressures that come with this. My plea then to the WLA crew please come back and do what you guys do best give great commentary on fun issues and make this board a way better place for everyone because it is you guys who made Mgoboard what it is and would you come back to help stop the insanity going on here recently and make it an even better place again.
Drum Major auditions for the MMB were this past Tuesday. The 3 candidates who auditioned in the finals this year in front of the entire MMB also made it to finals the previous year but lost to Cody Martin, the incumbent Drum Major at the time. Here's footage of the twirling portion of all 3 candidates' auditions:
#1 Rich Main
#2 David Hines
#3 Sarah Zelenak
Candidate #2 was voted into the position of Drum Major for the 2009 season.
Just a bit more on the position of Drum Major in the MMB from wikipedia:
The Michigan Marching Band has one drum major, commonly referred to as the "Man Up Front," for the entire 350+ member ensemble. Like in most Big Ten bands, the MMB drum major is not a conducting position. The drum major provides whistle commands to provide song tempos and parade instructions. While it is not required of the position, most drum majors perform twirling routines during the halftime show. The drum major is also responsible for teaching proper marching techniques during Band Week. The drum major is best known for the back bend performed during pregame. The drum major is considered the best marcher in the band.
Auditions for this position are held yearly in a two-phase process. The first phase is held in front of the MMB staff which narrows the field of candidates. The second phase is held on the last day of classes for the winter term and the final vote is decided by the current members of the MMB.
If there is one team we all ought to be rooting for aside from Michigan this autumn, it is the Golden Domers at Notre Dame. Here is hoping they find a way to sneak 9 wins out of their watery schedule this season to we aren't facing another coach in South bend.
The one thing that Weis has done very well is bring in some elite level talent that hasn't been seen since Lou Holtz. Of the many things Weis hasn't done very well, a couple of them are particularly relevant for our purposes:
1) figure out how to develop players (e.g., Sam Young anyone?) and
2) put together a good team without the prior tutelage of Ty Willingham (who I suspect after this year will be far less hated in South Bend).
I enjoy the irony when Notre Dame fans rail against Rodriguez and Michigan for going 3-9 in 2008 in his first year (Weis went 3-9 in his 3rd year and 7-6 in his 4th WITH HIS OWN PLAYERS).
And the recruiting advantage over Michigan is seriously EXAGGERATED as well. True, the '08 class saw nearly every head to head battle go to Notre Dame, but the reality is that Weis had the trump card of immediate playing time, and Rodriguez only had about a month and a half to keep the current class together and identify more recruits--many of which we weren't in direct competition with ND for, save Martavious Odoms. More telling, is the way the '09 head-to-head battles with Notre Dame unfolded: Notre Dame signed (players that we offered): Alex Bullard, Chris Watt, Zach Martin, and Shaq Evans. Michigan signed (players that ND offered): William Campbell, Anthony LaLota, Craig Roh, and Michael Schofield.
Without the "playing time" card to play, Michigan and Notre Dame split 8 recruits down the middle. And, I would prefer the 4 that Michigan signed.
The end point is that it is in the interests of Michigan football for Charlie Weis to squeak out 9 wins this year and maybe even win a bowl game so we aren't facing Urban Meyer in South Bend every other year. With Charlie Weis, Notre Dame may sign some good players, but the vertical routes will occur at predictable intervals, Clausen will still be mediocre, the play-calling will be uninventive, and Notre Dame will remain soft (remember how McGuffie got off against ND last year? In hindsight, how weird is that to think about?).
With the NFL draft rapidly approaching and college football existing in a tantalizing “spring game and then random non-mandatory-but-if-you-plan-on-playing-you-better-show-up practices” realm until the fall, my mind began to wander
about football. Perhaps spurred on my Mel Kiper’s impeccable coif, I started to think about the NFL draft and the immense differences in how college and professional players are rated depending on who is providing the analysis.
With college players, the focus tends to be on the player's "fit" within a system, while in the NFL the focus seems to be
far more on a player's raw "numbers" and physical attributes. For example, the proliferation of spread-style offenses in college has made 5'-10" WR/quarks far more valuable than they are to a professional football team, while some CFB teams have moved away from the massive-but-speed-impaired OLs that still find homes on most NFL rosters. While there remains a significant number of skills that translate well no matter what person is doing the analysis, it does seem that being a star in college does not necessarily oneself of that success following you into the pros.
Now, that probably is not a revelation to most people, but it got me thinking about CFB All-Americans and how they
are evaluated by NFL scouts, the theory being that the highest-rated players tend to be drafted early. Every year, it always seemed like two or three All-Americans (usually QBs, but other positions as well) either were drafted in
the lower rounds, or not at all. It always struck me as odd how these guys can dominate the college game, oftentimes
against players who are later drafted before them, but still evaluated as borderline pros by NFL front offices.
With that in mind, I set out to determine how success in college translated to the NFL, broken down by position.
First, the set-up:
Set-up and caveats:
- Draft years: 2001-2008
- I used only the players from the first-team AP All-American list. My reasons are two-fold for selecting this particular cross-section of college football's elite.
- I chose the AP list because it is the one most commonly cited when discussing a player's collegiate success, and it seemed to have far less WTF selections compared to ones put out by the Coaches or TSN.
- I limited by analysis to the first team because those players were regarded as the "best" that year, and enough guys moved up and down the 1st, 2nd, and honorable mentions throughout their careers that it made
my head hurt trying to keep them all properly slotted.
- So you didn't get drafted... - Believe it or not, some All-Americans were not drafted by an NFL club (sorry, Mr. Shazor). In those few instances where a player went undrafted, I assigned them a round of 8 and an overall draft position of 256, which are 1 more than the respective limits of rounds and positions in the NFL draft.
- APs and FBs - In college, a position on the All-American team is reserved for an uber-athlete who, in most instances, is a kick/punt returner. In the NFL Draft, though, these players are listed at their "preferred" position.
Similarly, players are drafted as FBs even though the AA team does not feature such a position. So both those
categories are out. Note to those worried about these omissions corrupting my numbers - most of the APs were WRs
or RBs drafted around the same round and pick number as the rest of their position, while FBs never factored into
most AA teams and were drafted so low that they would have artificially depressed the numbers for whatever group -
RB or TE - I tried to shoehorn them into.
- The Lines - People may notice that I lumped defensive and offensive line players into two groups - DL
and OL - without regard for their position along said line. I know, this undoubtedly screwed with my numbers. The first problem is that the AA teams do not list separate positions on either line except at C. Sure, I could have gone based on the position they were drafted/listed at, but that might not be the position at which they attained AA status
while in college. So yeah, good LTs are going to be gone far sooner than good RGs, as will good DEs compared to good NTs, but I'm willing to accept that variance here. Furthermore, guys in college move around all the time, sometimes lining up as DE on one play, a hybrid linebacker the next, and on the inside as a tackle on another, all depending on the matchups. Similarly, while a great LT might not be moved around much, injuries and even particular formations may lead to guys bouncing around from G to T throughout the year, making a single position difficult to ascertain. So I bunched everyone into line play, and
I accept all criticisms that come with that decision.
- DBs - See above for my logic with bunching guys together. While the AA team does have a separate listing for safeties and cornerbacks, their variability of position (CB, S, or LB) at the draft made it difficult to determine where many of them fell. For example, Marlin Jackson was a CB while at UM, but has been more of a safety while in the pros. That seemed to happen more with DBs than any other position I followed, so I figured I might as well
lump them together and accept that the numbers would be a little skewed.
- Sample size - I know, I know. With samples of 7-8 players, of course one or two outliers are going to
knock everything out of whack. For that, I
apologize, but I am gainfully employed, recently married, and only have a finite number of hours a day to spend
surfing the Internet for All American teams
and yearly drafts. Take all of the numbers with a massive grain of salt; that said, the trends you'll see in the
numbers, at least to me, keep in line with
my expectations going into this project and match, I hope, with the conventional wisdom shared by others.
- Math: I'm a computer engineer from UM who was, at one point, decent with statistical analysis methods.
Over the years, though, my knowledge has retreated farther and farther in the recess of my mind, replaced with Family Guy quotes and the rules of eminent domain. As a result, I limited my analysis to average draft position for the All Americans, the average draft position for every player at that position (with the All Americans removed from the pool
so as to not skew the numbers), and standard deviations for both. Since my sample sizes were relatively small, the standard deviations are all over the place, and are practically useless beyond a "hey, that's interesting" viewpoint. I know there are other models and methods that might make more sense of this data, so look below for a link to part of my data (I can upload the full file if anyone really wants it).
My expectations - i.e. my uneducated beliefs about football:
Before jumping into the data, I'll quickly recount my expectations going into this little analysis.
- I've been Weinke'd - Though this was based mostly on my recollections of such college studs-turned-pro-duds as Chris Weinke (the greatest travesty in Heisman history), Jason White, Eric Crouch (not in sample), and Tim Tebow (jury is still out, but just saying...), I figured the QB position would show the greatest divergence between All American status and actual draft position. In college, where specialized systems are rampant and guys like Graham
Harrell, Colt Brennan, and Chris Leak can dominate despite clear deficiencies, it would make sense that they would
no fit snuggly into most pro systems and, as a result, drop in the draft.
- Fast little guys - I have always heard from the talking heads on ESPN, Fox Sports, etc. that the two
positions where the transition from college to the pros (outside of special teamers like Ks and Ps) is easiest is at RB and DB, especially for college corners. That makes sense to an extent, as those positions rely most heavily on pure athletic ability. So I expected to see the the greatest deviation in draft position at these two positions, with AAs
being drafted far higher than the "average" player at that position.
So on to the chart? Yeah, chart:
|Position||Count||Average Round||Average Draft Pick||Std Dev Round||Std Dev Draft Pick|
|C - CFB||8||4.5||135.38||2.78||101.15|
|C - NFL||51||4.88||152||1.84||66.72|
|DB - CFB||31||2.35||60.71||1.98||68.64|
|DB - NFL||356||4.23||127.82||1.93||69.35|
|DL - CFB||28||1.96||44.96||1.67||58.13|
|DL - NFL||317||4.24||127.64||2.06||73.73|
|K - CFB||6||5.33||163||2.5||90.92|
|K - NFL||15||5.87||183.27||1.19||50.53|
|LB - CFB||18||3||79.44||2.35||83.62|
|LB - NFL||234||4.32||130.36||1.81||67.14|
|OL - CFB||27||2.44||58.33||1.8||62.86|
|OL - NFL||260||4.67||143.92||1.92||69.99|
|P - CFB||7||5.29||165.71||1.98||70.33|
|P - NFL||12||5.33||163.17||1.15||45.01|
|QB - CFB||7||3||81.71||2.77||100.75|
|QB - NFL||101||4.2||126.04||2.14||77.71|
|RB - CFB||15||2.87||77||2.33||80.38|
|RB - NFL||138||4.29||131.53||2.08||76.91|
|TE - CFB||8||2.5||66.38||2.51||84.96|
|TE - NFL||112||4.57||142.23||1.91||69.89|
|WR - CFB||14||2.36||53.29||2.1||73.82|
|WR - NFL||245||4.44||136.22||2.03||74.51|
|AP - CFB||7||3.57||107||2.23||80.01|
|FB - NFL||31||5.16||160.94||1.39||53.33|
For individual draft positions of AAs and the NFL draft in general, click here.
So that was interesting. Some observations:
- Being an AA clearly helps your chances of being drafted. At every position, guys who were AAs were drafted
before the "average" player at that position. If one throws out Ks and Ps, in fact, most players AAs were drafted between 1 and 2 rounds before the average player, which amounted to millions of dollars in compensation and a far greater odds of making it on an NFL roster. So as a PSA - kids, try to be All Americans in college except...
- If you kick for a living and/or are used to having a guy's hands between your legs. Ps, Ks, and Cs received
comparatively small bumps in their draft stock for being AAs, though all three positions were drafted far later on average than other positions on the football field. While the special teamers really did not surprise me, one always hears how Cs are the smartest guys on the field and, as such, you would think such a commodity would be at a premium
come draft day. I will leave the explanation as to why Cs are drafted so much lower to those who know more about football than me.
- QBs on both side of the line struggle - You always hear about LBs being treated as the "QBs of the
defense," and at least on the AA team that seems to be true - both positions were consistently drafted lower than others. As I said above, sample size and what-not certainly had something to do with this theme, but the QB position in college is almost a different species compared to the NFL, so the divergence in draft status versus college success
doesn't really surprise me. LB was a bit more of a shock, but it does seem that LBs (and DEs) benefit the most
from the various systems run at the collegiate level as well as the relative strength of the line in front of them. If the DL can hold up the blockers from reaching that second level, it makes sense that free-flowing LBs are going to rack up huge tackle numbers that, inevitably, raise their national prominence. Plus, there does seem to be a
movement in the pros to draft smallish DEs in college to play LB in the pros, so maybe the LBs in college are getting squeezed down the line because of this phenomena as well. Again, smarter people than me can probably explain this better.
- DLs are rolling in the money (money!) - The old maxim is that you can't teach size and speed, and clearly NFL scouts have taken this to heart when evaluating DLs from college. The average AA DL is drafted before the end of the second round, which means the average DL is assured of millions before even stepping onto the football field. Furthermore, the standard deviation for the position was the lowest of all positions, meaning that most top college DLs
were gone on the first day of the draft. Even though some of these DLs are undoubtedly projects, it is clear that solid DLs in college are at a premium in the pros, and teams are willing to take fliers out on these physical freaks.
- OLs are not doing too badly either (um, slightly less money!) - Again, a premium on speed and size on one end would beget a premium on the guys on the other. Pancake factories and hulking bulls are evident in college and, it seems, are quickly snapped up by the pros as well. While OLs were drafted a little later on average than their DL counterparts, both sides have clearly benefited from the increased exposure and emphasis teams have placed on the
- DBs and RBs, plus WRs - I proferred the theory that DBs and RBs tend to possess skills that translate well between college and the pros, and as a result top players in college would be drafted early on in the pros because "you know what you are getting with them." Well, it looks like I was partly correct. Top DBs tend to get drafted early on, as the speed and size maxim held up. If you can run really fast backwards and then be able to jump really high to knock down a pass, you will likely dominate at every level of football. While there certainly are systems in both college and pro that can mask some deficiencies in speed and size, DB seems to be one of the positions where great athletes are easily identifiable and measurable. That aptitude shows up
pretty quickly on the college field and, apparently, in the eyes of pro scouts.
A similar story can be found for the men who most frequently match up against DBs: WRs. If you can run a 4.4 40 and stand 6-5 or more, you will certainly dominate college and, at least initially, be looked upon favorably by pro scouts. While there have certainly been a number of high-profile flubs from this group (looking at your, inmate #4587...I mean, Charles Rogers), there have also been some on-the-spot hits (Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, Braylon - if
he remembers how to catch the football again). Plus, I think part of reputation surrounding WRs in the draft is
directly related to the incompetence of the Lions' front office, with an abnormally large number of turds floating in their punch bowl.
As for RBs, I think the reason they are drafted over such a dramatic range (check out the Std Dev) has to do with the fact that NFL GMs see them largely as replaceable parts, pieces that break down quickly and, thus, should only be highly paid if they are exceptional. The oft-quoted statistic is that starting RBs last about 3 years in the NFL, so most teams are loathe to spend a first- or second-round pick on that position unless they believe he will have a long, successful career. Another factor that may play a role in the draft deviation is that the running back position is being deemphasized on a number teams,
with more teams adopting a back-by-committee approach. With less of a focus on a single dominant workhorse, top backs are being drafted farther down the line. Finally, and I guess I'll call this the Ron Dayne-Javon Ringer scenario, some college RBs dominate because they run the ball an ungodly number of times, resulting in huge numbers at the expense of shortened pro careers. Pro scouts have likely noticed that some of these guys have well over a thousand
college carries on their legs before taking a snap in the pros, and again don't want to pay for players likely to
So that's about it from my end. I would love any comments or criticisms, so go crazy in the comments section
below. Furthermore, if you note some glaring flaw with my data and/or analysis, please point it out (but in a way that doesn't sound TOO condescending) as well.
Part 1 of 3, 10 games and 10 players to watch, as well as a brief recruiting synopsis.
5 Best Out of Conference Games:
5.) Arizona at Iowa, Sept. 19
A Pac-Ten Big Ten game with teams that could have maxed out last year and with both teams' stars (Arizona's Tuitama and Iowa's Greene) gone. Still if either team is to have another big year, a win here would do wonders. Stoops saved his job last year... sort of, and Ferentz has good security so there is more pressure on UA.
4.) Illinois vs. Missouri (St. Louis), Sept. 5
Illinois will face a moderately tough test at least their defense will. Gabbert should step into the quarterback job for the Tigers so it will be interesting to see how the Illini’s defense can hold up against a pass happy Big 12 team. Budding rivalry potential will be seen here too.
3.) California at Minnesota, Sept. 19
Minnesota shows of the new stadium nationally for the first time (they do play Air Force the week previous at home though). California brings in electric runner Jahvid Best and improving bowl team. Minnesota also brings in an improving bowl team. Also, this game could be a great measuring stick for the Big Ten and Pac-Ten.
2.) Notre Dame at Michigan, Sept. 12
The two most historic teams have been... well not up to standard. Obviously both teams will be there eventually. The question lies which team will get there first. It will be interesting if Tate’s Army (or Denard’s) will be able to run past an experienced defense bolstered by Manti Te’o, and if Clausen and co. can beat up on a young Michigan defense. Good doubleheader with the next game.
1.) USC at Ohio State, Sept. 12
Last year’s game brought me more glee than Christmas (maybe not but if it was a team other then USC it probably would), watching Tressel and his clowns look on as the Trojans ran roughshod over them was priceless. Will it be the same this year on a drunken night in Columbus? Eh… probably. Still the Buckeyes have a chance if the Trojan’s turn out to not have a quarterback, which in all probability they would. Still I admire them for scheduling them even if it means humiliation. Herbstreit will be fun to listen to as usual. More incoherent thought says that watching USC play far, far away from L.A. could give the Buckeyes an advantage.
5 Best In-Conference Games
5.) Michigan at Illinois, Oct. 31
Halloween night in Champaign brings two teams with potential this year, who struggled last year, into a somewhat revenge game (this is a theme) for the U of M defense who got run over, around, and past, on homecoming this year. Illinois looks to be a sleeper this year and there definitely will be fireworks (unless the Wolverines don’t put them up… but they probably will).
4.) Minnesota at Iowa, Nov. 21
Two darkhorses will face off on the last game of the year… at Iowa, which is a tough place for anyone to win…, except Iowa. A series of improbabilities could mean this game wins the Big Ten; it will probably have title implications one way or the other. It will be interesting to see if these teams pull out of the muck and emerge near the top, but this game looks good even if they don’t. This is all predicated on if another 55-0 game doesn't happen. I think Minnesota will be pissed that they got demolished in this rivalry game last year. Another revenge game.
3.) Ohio State at Penn State, Nov. 7
This game determined the Big Ten champion last year and this year might not be different. This will be another 3-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust game in the Big Ten and we’ll see if Pryor can win in a hostile environment and put the team on his shoulders. If he cannot, you can bet that the Wolverines will be licking their chops for his visit two weeks later.
2.) Iowa at Penn State, Sept. 26
A huge revenge game for Penn State, Iowa may have protected them from getting beat down by Florida or Oklahoma, but they sure don’t see it that way. Iowa may be forced to pass if they cannot find an heir to Shonn Greene and if Penn State really does noot have a secondary or a pass rush. Iowa’s defense may win this one on the road, but Penn State will be aiming to decapitate, maim, etc. so there is not certainty either way.
1.) Ohio State at Michigan, Nov. 21
Ah, this game might be the indicator if Michigan’s fan base can get loud and provide a real top-notch home field advantage. All the factors are there: Baby Buckeyes, traitorous Justin Boren, and a losing streak bordering on unbelievable. If the stadium can be loud, it will be for this game. Tate’s or Denard’s (the starter should emerge by then) prowess will be vital in this game as the Wolverine offense looks better than the Buckeyes’ defense on paper. Ohio State-Michigan, last game of the year, 12:00 ABC, this is college football.
Players to Watch
10.) Daniel Dufrene, Sr. RB Illinois
He is poised for a big year, if and only if he can get the ball in Zook’s offense. Dufrene had slightly less than six yards per carry, so a 1000 yard season is viable… with a fair amount of attempts.
9.) Navarro Bowman, So. LB Penn State
He led the Nittany Lions in tackles last year and will help anchor an inexperienced defense with senior Sean Lee. The game winning forced fumble against Ohio State was indeed memorable. Bowman is also poised for a breakout year.
EDIT: His probation was extended until 2010 for admitted marijuana use. http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/football/news?slug=ap-pennst-bowman&prov=ap...
8.) Adam Weber, Jr. QB Minnesota
A good year for Minnesota last year, but Weber is facing heat from MarQueis Gray at the QB spot. Statistically an average year last year, but he needs to step up big time to give Minnesota any realistic championship shot.
7.) Mike Kafka, Sr. QB Northwestern
Kafka replaces up and down longtime starter C.J. Bachér, but by all means looked the part of a star when he rushed for 217 yards and passed for 143 filling in for Bachér at Minnesota. Northwestern may slide a tad, but Kafka could make a name for himself.
6.) John Clay, So. RB Wisconsin
Clay surprisingly beat out P.J. Hill for the most rushing yards on the Big Ten’s most run heavy team. With another year of an unsettled QB spot, look for the Badgers to rely heavily on Clay.
5.) Ricki Stanzi, Jr. QB Iowa
This guy did not play pretty last year but he was efficient (134 passer rating) and got the job done. Without Greene he will need to do more in his second year as a starter. It can be noted that Iowa has notoriously poor WRs historically, this year will be similar.
4.) Isaiah “Juice” Williams, Sr. QB Illinois
Ever since the upset Homecoming win at Michigan State as a Freshman, Juice has been the man at Illinois. He could return Illinois to another Rose Bowl this year with his steadily growing numbers and hopefully not play USC.
3.) Sean Lee, Sr. LB Penn State
A Pre-Season All-America last year, Lee tore an ACL and thus is back for a 5th year in State College. Anchoring a young defense, this guy is a leader for the Defensive POY and Comeback POY in the Big Ten.
2.) Terrelle Pryor, So. QB Ohio State
Highly rated out of high school, he managed the game last year but was definitely not great (5-13). He is relied upon not heavily, but extremely heavily this year as the Buckeyes do not have another QB option as well as a young offense with unproven skill position players.
1.) Michigan QB (not Sheridan), Fr. QB Michigan
Be it Tate Forcier or Denard Robinson or even both, this position will clearly determine if the Wolverine Renaissance is upon us. Seriously, if they do well, Michigan could pull an upset or two. If not… well… it might be a year or two. They will definitely be one of the main storylines to watch nationally.
Recruiting Rankings (Rivals)
|Rank||Team||5 Stars||4 Stars||Total Prospects||Top Prospect|
|1||Ohio State||2||15||25||LB Dorian Bell|
|2||Michigan||1||13||22||DT Will Campbell|
|3||Michigan State||0||10||23||RB Edwin Baker|
|4||Penn State||0||7||27||WR Justin Brown|
|5||Illinois||0||7||23||DE Michael Buchanan|
|6||Minnesota||0||3||20||WR Hayo Carpenter|
|7||Wisconsin||0||5||21||WR Kraig Appleton|
|8||Northwestern||0||1||18||OL Patrick Ward|
|9||Indiana||0||0||19||DB Lawrence Barnett|
|10||Iowa||0||2||19||WR Keenan Davis|
|11||Purdue||0||1||20||RB Al-Terek McBurse|