Friday, January 25, 2013
Recapping Big East's early draft departures
By Matt Fortuna
Three Big East players jumped early to the NFL draft, while a number of others opted to return to school for another season or two.
The movers? Rutgers running back Jawan Jamison and cornerback Logan Ryan and Syracuse offensive tackle Justin Pugh.
Notable names to return? Rutgers receiver Brandon Coleman, Syracuse running back Jerome Smith and Pitt receiver Devin Street and defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
How did everyone fare?
Biggest winners: The Panthers are the clear winners here, as two of their best players opted to stay in school for another year. Street led the Big East in catches (73) in 2012 and was third in receiving yards (975), adding five touchdowns. Donald moved from end to tackle and led the conference in tackles for loss (18.5), adding 64 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, 11 quarterback hurries and one forced fumble. Their returns can also serve as public votes of confidence in Paul Chryst after the first-year coach's 6-7 campaign.
Biggest loser: Rutgers, meanwhile, is the clear loser here. Ryan was a two-time All-Big East selection, and this season he notched 94 tackles, five tackles for loss, four picks, two fumble recoveries and 17 pass break-ups. He is rateded the 39th-best player on ESPN's draft board. Jamison became just the third Scarlet Knights player since 1976 to eclipse the 1,000-yard rushing mark in a season, as he rushed for 1,075 yards and four touchdowns, while adding 28 catches for 323 yards and two more scores. He was a second-team All-Big East selection.
Head-scratcher: Jamison was the biggest surprise among the early defections, as he was just a redshirt sophomore and his body of work is relatively small. He was hampered by injuries down the stretch this past season, netting just 122 rushing yards over his final four games. ESPN ranks him as the No. 6 back in this year's draft, and not among the top 100 players in the draft.
The replacements: The highly touted Savon Huggins figures to step into the No. 1 role in Rutgers' backfield, as he rushed for 410 yards and two scores this season, including a 41-carry, 179-yard effort in a win at Cincinnati. Rising redshirt sophomore Tejay Johnson and rising junior Gareef Glashen are the next two men in at corner for the Scarlet Knights. Johnson, an ESPN two-star recruit, played in every game this season, notching 11 tackles and forcing a fumble. Glashen, another two-star player, played in 10 games this season and made seven tackles.
Pugh, meanwhile, will leave big shoes to fill at left tackle following three consecutive seasons of All-Big East production. Sean Hickey replaced Pugh for the first four games this season while Pugh recovered from offseason surgery, before moving to right tackle. Hickey figures to start next season at left tackle.