Monday, December 12, 2011
Recruiting rewind: All-Big Ten offense
By Adam Rittenberg
In case you missed it, Brian and I released our 2011 All-Big Ten team on Friday.
It's always interesting to look back where the selections ranked as recruits coming into college. I took a look at the ESPN Recruiting database to check out where each all-conference selection stacked up. I've listed their scouting grade, which is explained here, along with where they ranked nationally overall (if applicable), by position and within their region. I also list quotes from recruiting analysts about the prospects at the time.
The first post takes a look at offense. The second will examine defense and special teams.
QB: Russell Wilson, Wisconsin (began career at NC State), Class of 2007 -- Scout Grade of 73, rated as nation's 104th best quarterback. Analysis: "He has one of the quickest releases we have seen over he last two years. The ball comes out in a hurry. He is a great little athlete -- a true dual-threat -- but clearly a passer first. ... The problem is that he is short and lacks a great arm. Arm strength is adequate, but not powerful."
RB: Montee Ball, Wisconsin, Class of 2009 -- Scout Grade of 77, rated as nation's 74th best running back, 131st best player in Midlands region. Analysis: "At times Ball appears physically superior to his competition on film and could struggle maintaining his current yards after contact at the next level. With that said, you can't argue with his production and he is certainly built to carry the load and wear down a defense in a heavy power-running scheme."
RB: Rex Burkhead, Nebraska, Class of 2009 -- Scout Grade of 78, rated as nation's 44th best athlete, 61st best player in Midlands region. Analysis: "Burkhead is one of those junk yard dogs that makes your roster meaner and tougher and we love that about him. He's a warrior, throwback type of player that will fight, scrap and sellout to get the job done and make the play. ... He does show some stiffness to him and is not overly fluid in the hips. Has very good speed, but we would not term him to be a burner. He has an overachiever element to him that adds a chip on his shoulder."
WR: Marvin McNutt, Iowa, Class of 2007 -- Scout Grade of 77, rated as nation's 38th best quarterback. Analysis: "McNutt is an exceptional athlete who happens to be a pretty darn good passer with the upside to develop into an excellent passer. He is a true dual-threat quarterback who is a passer first, runner second. He is a dangerous spread offense, read-option guy with excellent speed and quickness. ... He is dangerous on the perimeter -- once he gets in space, look out."
WR: B.J. Cunningham, Michigan State, Class of 2007 -- Scout Grade of 70, rated as nation's 145th best wide receiver. Analysis: "Cunningham has very good size and leaping ability and flashes some big-play skills on jump balls downfield. However, he is the definition of a possession receiver in terms of speed and quickness. Builds speed as he goes and works the intermediate routes like curls, comebacks and digs very well."
TE: Drake Dunsmore, Northwestern, Class of 2007 -- Scout Grade of 77, rated as nation's 20th best tight end. Analysis: "He will need to add bulk to his frame and has adequate height, but if he can physically develop, he has the tools to be a productive college tight end. He impresses you with his in-line blocking ability. ... As a receiver, he can be productive. He catches the ball with his hands and does a good job of adjusting to bad balls and making the catch."
OL: David Molk, Michigan, Class of 2007 -- Scout Grade of 78, rated as nation's sixth best center. Analysis: "Molk is an offensive tackle in high school but will project to either the guard or center position in college. His build along with him having some experience makes him a good candidate to be a college center. ... There will be some adjusting for Molk, and you would like to see him continue to add bulk. He does play with tenacity and has good tools. Should be able to develop into a good center at the college level."
OL: Kevin Zeitler, Wisconsin, Class of 2008 -- No Scout Grade and unranked among guards. No extensive analysis.
OL: Peter Konz, Wisconsin, Class of 2008 -- Scout Grade of 75, rated as nation's 71st best offensive tackle. Analysis: "Konz is a blue collar type player in the trenches. He has good size and displays good versatility. He plays both tackle and guard and could project as a right tackle in college or as a guard. He is a tenacious run blocker. He delivers a good initial blow. ... He slams into a defender and is able to drive an opponent off the line of scrimmage in the run game. He has a good motor in the run game and will run a path hitting whatever is in his way."
OL: Joel Foreman, Michigan State, Class of 2007 -- No Scout Grade and unranked among guards. No extensive analysis.
OL: Reilly Reiff, Iowa, Class of 2008 -- Scout Grade of 74, rated as nation's 91st best defensive end. Analysis: "He is a big kid at the end position with the ability to get bigger. He has a good get-off and can come out of his stance and shoot his hands. He has the ability to punch and separate. He needs to work on placement, as he can wind up with his hands on the outside of a blocker's frame and let him into his chest. He flashes the ability to play with leverage and hold his ground. He is a tall kid and needs to focus on staying low."
Thoughts: No truly elite recruits appear among the offensive All-Big Ten selections, as Michigan's Molk and Northwestern's Dunsmore were the highest-rated players at their respective positions. The two guards, Michigan State's Foreman and Wisconsin's Zeitler, appear to be the biggest surprises as neither was rated coming out of high school. Both Iowa honorees were listed at different positions as recruits, and both received evaluations that indicated they could succeed elsewhere. The analysis of Burkhead appears spot-on, while players like Cunningham certainly exceeded the perception coming out of high school.