Friday, May 17, 2013
Poll: Big East's most improved player?
By Matt Fortuna
Poll week is all but wrapped up. For our final query, we're looking to see which player you think will make the biggest jump in the Big East this season.
Thursday brought us our closest poll, with Houston and USF neck-and-neck as potential darkhorse candidates in the conference this season. I'd expect similar results from today's poll, as the eventual answers always end up as surprises.
Here is who we list as potential guys to take the next step. Disagree? Vote "other" and let us know who and why in the mailbag.
Anthony McClung, WR, Cincinnati: The senior had just 34 catches for 539 yards and two touchdowns last season, but he leads all returning players in the conference in career receptions, with 105. The runner-up on the Bearcats? Alex Chisum, with 28. Travis Kelce, Kenbrell Thompkins and Damon Julian are gone, and there are question marks in the backfield. But with a returning starter under center one way or another, and with added weight, McClung has the chance to break out as a true No. 1 option this season.
Gary Nova, QB, Rutgers: Players and coaches have spoken of a much more confident man under center this spring, especially with new coordinator Ron Prince in charge of the offense. Nova shed 15 pounds in the offseason and thrived in the spring game, and his poor play during the Scarlet Knights' three-game losing streak to close last season provides the perfect opportunity for a rebound in 2013 for the junior.
Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville: Pryor may be the most accomplished among these candidates, but he still has plenty of untapped potential after thriving as a starter during most of his freshman and sophomore seasons. Pryor was a second-team All-Big East performer last season after forcing five fumbles — the third-most nationally — and notching 100 tackles. He and Hakeem Smith should form the best safety duo in the conference.
Connor Reilly, QB, Temple: If this award went out in the spring, Reilly would be the winner by a wide margin. He jumped from fourth to first on the depth chart over the course of 15 practices, dominating in the spring and forcing Chris Coyer and Kevin Newsome into position changes. The dual-sport athlete (he also plays baseball) is the frontrunner to start in 2013, but the biggest question is likely the weapons around him.