- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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Connecticut's Randy Edsall offered a brief update on his team Monday, which included the following news: running back Jordan Todman and defensive lineman Kendall Reyes are each exploring their NFL draft stock while deciding whether to come back for their senior seasons.
That's not particularly surprising in the case of Todman, who finished the season as the nation's No. 2 rusher after turning in his second straight season over the 1,000-yard barrier. Todman has little left to prove in college, though his size may cause some concern for scouts at the next level. UConn simply reloads at the running back position because of how well its offensive line is coached and performs. Todman also took on a heavy load this year, leading the Big East with 302 carries in 11 games. Bilal Powell was the league's second most-used ball carrier, and he had 91 fewer rushes.
Reyes was a first-team All-Big East selection who really performed well down the stretch. He's not a guy who has generated a lot of NFL buzz from the mock draft folks, but UConn has showed in the past few years that it can produce high draft picks.
Who are some other Big East underclassmen who will be seriously studying their draft stocks this month? Here is a list of those candidates:
Jon Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh: As good as gone, and should be a first-rounder.
Robert Sands, S, West Virginia: Didn't have huge stats this year but will be coveted for his size (6-foot-5) and skills. Could probably use another year of seasoning but would definitely get drafted.
Dion Lewis, RB, Pittsburgh: A draft-eligible sophomore, Lewis had a very slow start to the season and finished far off his 2009 pace. That, plus his diminutive size, probably means he'll be back for 2010.
Isaiah Pead, RB, Cincinnati: The junior finished third in the Big East in rushing, and 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds, he is bigger than both Todman and Lewis. He may need to prove more durability, however, after a year in which he had just 157 carries.
Derek Wolfe, DT, Cincinnati: Has good size for a defensive tackle at 6-foot-6, 295 pounds but would probably be wise to stay in school.
Julian Miller and Bruce Irvin, DE, West Virginia: Both had outstanding years and will be major cornerstones if they return as seniors in 2011. Irvin needs to gain weight and become a more complete player but is already a pass-rushing dynamo.
There are always a couple of surprises in the early-entrant decisions -- for example, USF's Carlton Mitchell last year -- so this bears watching over the next several weeks.