Big Ten: Bani Gbadyu
Free agent deals are finally taking place during a whirlwind week in the post-lockout NFL.
We'll have additional updates as the day goes on, but here's a look at where Big Ten players are landing.
- CB Travon Bellamy, St. Louis Rams
- WR Jarred Fayson: New Orleans Saints
- G Randall Hunt: St. Louis Rams
- DE Clay Nurse: New England Patriots
- QB Ben Chappell: Washington Redskins
- WR Terrance Turner: Philadelphia Eagles
- P Ryan Donahue: Detroit Lions
- LB Jeremiah Hunter: New Orleans Saints
- TE Allen Reisner: Minnesota Vikings
- LB Jeff Tarpinian: New England Patriots
- T Perry Dorrestein: New York Jets
- CB James Rogers: Denver Broncos
- TE Martell Webb: Philadelphia Eagles
- WR Mark Dell: Denver Broncos
- LB Eric Gordon: Jacksonville Jaguars
- T D.J. Young: Arizona Cardinals
- T Dom Alford: Cleveland Browns
- FB Jon Hoese: Green Bay Packers
- QB Adam Weber: Denver Broncos
- K Adi Kunalic: Carolina Panthers
- TE Mike McNeill: Indianapolis Colts
- DE Pierre Allen: Seattle Seahawks
- G Ricky Henry: Chicago Bears
- T D.J. Jones: Miami Dolphins
- S Rickey Thenarse: Seattle Seahawks
- DT Corbin Bryant: Chicago Bears
- LB Quentin Davie: Detroit Lions
- G Bryant Browning: St. Louis Rams
- G Justin Boren: Baltimore Ravens
- RB Brandon Saine: Green Bay Packers
- WR Dane Sanzenbacher: Chicago Bears
- DT Dexter Larimore: New Orleans Saints
- CB Devon Torrence: Minnesota Vikings
- WR Brett Brackett: Miami Dolphins
- LB Chris Colasanti: Indianapolis Colts
- LB Bani Gbadyu: Oakland Raiders
- DT Ollie Ogbu: Indianapolis Colts
- TE Kyle Adams: Chicago Bears
- WR Keith Smith: Detroit Lions
- CB Niles Brinkley: Pittsburgh Steelers
- RB John Clay: Pittsburgh Steelers
- QB Scott Tolzien: San Diego Chargers
Coach Joe Paterno said Tuesday that linebackers Bani Gbadyu (calf), Gerald Hodges (leg) and Michael Mauti (ankle) have returned to practice and should play Saturday at Minnesota. Paterno sounded a bit more optimistic about both Mauti and Gbadyu but said Hodges, who has missed four games, went through practice Monday and might return.
The prognosis at defensive end looks less promising. Starter Eric Latimore (wrist) will miss three to five more weeks, and starter Jack Crawford is still battling back from a right foot injury that sidelined him against Illinois.
"I doubt if we'll have Crawford [at Minnesota]," Paterno said. "There's an outside chance."
Paterno also said wide receiver Curtis Drake (leg) hasn't suited up for practice yet and likely will be redshirted.
"We're banged up," Paterno said, "but that's the way it goes. You've got to do the best you can with what you have, and a couple of guys have to rise to the occasion."
Keep in mind that Penn State brought in the Big Ten's top recruiting class in February, so there's talent there, albeit young talent. With so many key defenders out or banged up, Penn State will need to lean on the offense more down the stretch.
The school confirmed that starting free safety Nick Sukay will undergo season-ending surgery this week to repair a torn pectoral muscle suffered in Saturday's loss to Illinois. Sukay will need a minimum of six months to rehab the injury, according to the Penn State team doctor.
He's the third Penn State player to suffer a season-ending injury, joining right tackle Lou Eliades (knee) and tight end Garry Gilliam (knee).
Here's the outlook for the others:
OUT FOR TWO WEEKS OR MORE
- DE Jack Crawford (foot)
- S Andrew Dailey (stinger)
- LB Bani Gbadyu (calf)
- DT Jordan Hill (ankle)
- LB Gerald Hodges (leg)
- LB Michael Mauti (ankle)
Sukay's loss is a significant blow for Penn State, which has played well in the secondary for much of the season. Not having Latimore for at least two more weeks also hurts, but the rest of the news might not be that bad. Some had feared Crawford would miss the rest of the season, and if Penn State can get Gbadyu, Hodges and Mauti back soon, it has a much better chance to hold up on defense after the bye week.
The injury bug has hit Tom Bradley's unit especially hard today, claiming players like end Jack Crawford, safety Nick Sukay, end Eric Latimore and linebackers Bani Gbadyu and Michael Mauti. This is merely a shell of the defense Penn State has used for much of the season. That's not to take anything away from Nathan Scheelhaase and the Illini offense, which is gaining a ton of confidence in the second half.
Penn State's offense has no such excuse. Sure, it's hard playing a true freshman at quarterback, but the offensive line and the running backs aren't doing anything today. Evan Royster's disappointing senior season continues, and aside from an 80-yard touchdown pass from Rob Bolden to Derek Moye, Penn State has barely 100 total yards.
The injuries on defense are too much to overcome, but Penn State's continued inability to score touchdowns remains the biggest problem in Happy Valley.
To recap some of the major injury/health stories:
Purdue wide receiver Keith Smith
The bad news: Smith will miss the remainder of the season after tearing both the ACL and MCL in his right knee during Saturday's win against Western Illinois. Purdue feared a serious injury following the game but got the official word early Tuesday after Smith underwent an MRI. Smith was a first-team All-Big Ten selection in 2009 and led the league in both receiving yards (1,100) and receptions. He leads the league with 18 receptions through the first two games. Needless to say, it's a major loss for Purdue and a rough situation for Smith, one of my favorite players to cover in the league.
The quote: "He was one of our best players, one of the best players in the country at his position, so it's a tough setback when you lose that quality of a player. You lose his presence on the field, but he can still help us a bunch from a leadership standpoint. It's a big loss, and the team's very upset about it." -- Boilers coach Danny Hope
What's next: Smith must decide if he'll pursue an NFL career or apply for a sixth year of eligibility. Hope expects Justin Siller and Antavian Edison to help fill the void on offense, and Purdue has quite a few options at receiver, including promising young players O.J. Ross and Gary Bush. "It's the one place on our football team going into this season that we have some pretty good depth," Hope said.
Iowa defensive coordinator Norm Parker
The bad news: Parker isn't expected to be with No. 9 Iowa for this week's game at No. 24 Arizona (ESPN, 10:30 p.m. ET) after recently being hospitalized with back pain. Parker, a diabetic, has been hospitalized several times in the last few years and had to spend the second half of the 2009 season coaching from the press box. Coach Kirk Ferentz said Parker, 68, is still receiving care, and "it's doubtful" the veteran assistant will be in Tucson.
The quote: "It’s like a football team. We're better off when we have all our best players with us, and Norm is a critical cog of our operation. … The good news is we've got a veteran staff. Guys work extremely well together. They'll just grab a little bit more of the responsibility. We'll find a way to get it done. We'd certainly all prefer that Norm was with us, and we hope he'll be back with us soon." -- Kirk Ferentz
What's next: Linebackers coach Darrell Wilson handled defensive play-calling duties against Iowa State and likely will do the same at Arizona.
Ohio State strong safety C.J. Barnett
The bad news: Barnett likely will miss the rest of the season after suffering a knee injury late in the third quarter Saturday against Miami. Coach Jim Tressel said Barnett, who started the first two games, needs surgery on the knee. Barnett was a somewhat surprising Game 1 starter after overtaking a banged-up Orhian Johnson in camp, and he made his presence known in both of Ohio State's first two games.
The quote: "He's a true sophomore and had some special teams time last year and took advantage of an opportunity. … He really impressed all of us and played very well those first couple games. We really hate to lose him because I thought he was playing very physical and he was really starting to learn the game." -- Jim Tressel
What's next: Johnson has recovered from a pulled calf muscle that slowed him in camp and will move into a starting role. Johnson has had some impressive flashes in practice but lacks much game experience.
Penn State linebacker Gerald Hodges
The bad news: Hodges will miss 4-8 weeks with what coach Joe Paterno called a "slight crack" in the lower part of the left leg. The sophomore suffered the injury on the opening kickoff of Saturday's loss to No. 1 Alabama. A backup outside linebacker, Hodges looked strong in the preseason and likely would have taken on an increased role on defense in the coming weeks.
The quote: "We're talking four to six to eight weeks, [the doctors are] not sure. It depends on how quickly he heals, but he’s going to be out for a while." -- Joe Paterno
What's next: Heralded true freshman Khairi Fortt appears in Hodges' spot on this week's depth chart behind Bani Gbadyu. Fortt and others will take on enhanced roles during Hodges' absence.
(And then there's Purdue, which didn't include a depth chart in its game notes for Notre Dame. Ugh.)
I've had the chance to review depth charts from those programs that released them today -- two-deeps from Illinois, Michigan State and Minnesota are coming soon -- and I checked in on several coaches' news conferences.
Here's what stood out:
- Even though Indiana will shift to a 3-4 defensive alignment this year, the depth chart lists a 4-3 with Darius Johnson and Fred Jones as the starting ends and Chad Sherer and Tyler Replogle flanking junior college transfer Jeff Thomas at linebacker.
- Interesting to see several veteran offensive linemen like Justin Pagan and Cody Faulkner listed as backups rather than starters. Junior Andrew McDonald steps into some big shoes at left tackle as Rodger Saffold departs to the NFL.
- The backup quarterback job remains open, as Dusty Kiel and Edward Wright-Baker are both listed as No. 2 behind Ben Chappell.
- Indiana expects big things from redshirt freshman Duwyce Wilson, listed as a starter at wide receiver, kick returner and punt returner.
- Sophomores Micah Hyde and Greg Castillo are listed as the starting cornerbacks. Shaun Prater doesn't appear on the depth chart after dealing with a leg injury in camp. Prater hasn't been officially ruled out for the Eastern Illinois game, but I wouldn't expect to see much of him on Saturday.
- James Ferentz is listed as the starting center, a spot where Iowa might be a little thin following Josh Koeppel's motorcycle accident Monday morning.
- Starting defensive end Broderick Binns is suspended for the opener, so Christian Ballard is listed as a possible starter at both end and tackle. Mike Daniels and Lebron Daniel are the next options behind Ballard.
- Sophomores Denard Robinson and Tate Forcier and freshman Devin Gardner are listed as co-starters at quarterback. Head coach Rich Rodriguez reiterated Monday that Gardner won't redshirt this fall.
- Vincent Smith and Michael Shaw are listed as co-starters at running back, with Michael Cox behind them.
- True freshman Carvin Johnson is listed as the starter at the spur position (safety/linebacker). Pretty big surprise here, and a testament to Johnson's work in camp.
- Senior James Rogers steps into Troy Woolfolk's starting cornerback spot opposite J.T. Floyd.
- Receivers Martavious Odoms and Kelvin Grady clearly showed enough in camp to be listed as starters or possible starters against Connecticut.
- Sophomore running back Arby Fields returned to practice Monday and wore a no-contact jersey after being sidelined with a shoulder problem. He's listed as a co-starter at running back with Jacob Schmidt and Stephen Simmons. Northwestern wanted a clear No. 1 running back to emerge in camp, but Fields' injury changed the plan.
- Junior Bryce McNaul is listed as the third top linebacker alongside returning starters Quentin Davie and Nate Williams. McNaul won the job in camp.
- Venric Mark is the only true freshman listed on the depth chart, both as a backup wide receiver and a co-starter at punt returner. I'll go out on a huge limb (sarcasm) and predict Mark will be the man on returns for the Wildcats very shortly.
- Junior defensive end Nathan Williams, a projected starter, will miss the Marshall game with a knee injury. He should be back shortly thereafter. Solomon Thomas will start in Williams' spot Thursday night.
- Starting cornerback Chimdi Chekwa (hamstring) is questionable for the Marshall game, but corner Devon Torrence (hamstring) should be fine.
- Sophomore C.J. Barnett's strong performance in camp lifted him ahead of Orhian Johnson on the Week 1 depth chart. Johnson missed a chunk of camp with an injury.
- Start salivating, Buckeyes fans, because running backs Jordan Hall and Jaamal Berry likely will handle kickoff returns against Marshall.
- Sophomores Kevin Newsome and Matt McGloin and freshman Robert Bolden are listed as co-starters at quarterback for the Youngstown State game.
- Sophomore Devon Smith's strong camp landed him a starting spot at both receiver and kick returner, and a backup role on punt returns.
- Redshirt freshman Garry Gilliam is listed as the starting tight end, as Andrew Szczerba likely will miss the opener with a back injury. Penn State obviously is thin here after losing Andrew Quarless and Mickey Shuler.
- Veterans Nate Stupar, Chris Colasanti and Bani Gbadyu are listed as the starting linebackers, with promising younger players like Michael Mauti and Gerald Hodges right behind them.
- After a very impressive camp, freshman running back James White appears at No. 3 on the depth chart behind both John Clay and Montee Ball. White also is the No. 2 punt returner behind David Gilreath. His emergence likely will result in veteran Zach Brown redshirting the season.
- Senior Blake Sorensen likely will start at outside linebacker, as Mike Taylor continues to rehab after undergoing a second procedure on his knee in camp. Culmer St. Jean and Chris Borland are listed as the other starting linebackers.
- The starting cornerback spots remain open, as Niles Brinkley, Antonio Fenelus and Devin Smith will compete in practice this week.
1. Ohio State: The Buckeyes boast two of the Big Ten's top 10 linebackers in Ross Homan and Brian Rolle, and they also have good depth. Homan might have been the league's most underrated defender in 2009 after tying for fourth in the league in interceptions (five) and finishing eighth in tackles (8.3 per game). Rolle makes up for his lack of size with speed and explosiveness. Ohio State's supporting cast includes Etienne Sabino, Andrew Sweat, Dorian Bell and others.
2. Michigan State: Back-to-back Big Ten preseason Defensive Player of the Year Greg Jones enters the season as the frontrunner to win the Butkus Award. But he's not alone on what should be a loaded linebacking corps. All-Big Ten candidate Eric Gordon has played a ton of football alongside Jones, and the coaches were pleased with Chris Norman this spring. Hopes are extremely high for true freshmen William Gholston, the Big Ten's top-rated recruit, and Max Bullough. It's clear to see why the Spartans are moving closer to the 3-4.
3. Wisconsin: Health remains a concern, as Mike Taylor's knee problems will linger and Chris Borland comes off of shoulder surgery, but Wisconsin has plenty of talent here. Borland is a rare, do-everything player who won Big Ten Freshman of the Year honors in 2009. Taylor likely would have contended for the same award if not for a torn ACL against Iowa. The Badgers also bring back Culmer St. Jean and Blake Sorensen.
4. Northwestern: As a College Football Hall of Fame linebacker, Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald loves the look of this group. Senior Quentin Davie is a bona fide NFL prospect who has consistently reached the offensive backfield throughout his career. Middle linebacker Nate Williams enters his third year as the starter, and the coaches have solid options in Bryce McNaul, Ben Johnson and David Nwabuisi. Fitzgerald says this is the most linebacker depth Northwestern has had in his tenure.
5 (tie). Iowa and Penn State: These teams combine to lose five All-Big Ten 'backers from 2009, including first-team selections Pat Angerer (Iowa) and Navorro Bowman (Penn State). But both have historically reloaded at linebacker, and this year should be no different. Iowa's Jeremiha Hunter returns for his third year as a starter, and Jeff Tarpinian and Tyler Nielsen are primed for bigger roles. Troy Johnson and Bruce Davis are two other names to watch, and hopes are high for freshman James Morris. Penn State loses all three starters, but Nate Stupar and Bani Gbadyu have played a lot of football. Michael Mauti's return from an ACL injury and Penn State's strong recruiting at linebacker also elevate hope for the group.
Next up: Secondary
More rankings ...
- Penn State insiders say freshmen Robert Bolden and Silas Redd are standing out in camp, Bob Flounders writes in The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News. Liberian national Bani Gbadyu has found a home in Happy Valley, Paul Sokoloski writes in The Times Leader.
- Iowa has the nation's No. 2 secondary, according to Rivals.com's Tom Dienhart. Get ready for some new game-day rules in Iowa City, Lee Hermiston writes in the Iowa City Press-Citizen.
- Ohio State is hoping for good news regarding defensive end Nathan Williams' knee injury, Ken Gordon writes in The Columbus Dispatch.
- Did you know Michigan State linebacker Greg Jones and Ohio State receiver DeVier Posey are cousins? Spartans veteran offensive lineman John Stipek knows there are no guarantees, Joe Rexrode writes in the Lansing State Journal.
- Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema is increasing media access and improving his image, Andy Baggot writes in the Wisconsin State Journal. Badgers offensive linemen John Moffitt and Bill Nagy prepare for their final go-round, Jeff Potrykus writes in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- Indiana quarterback Ben Chappell learns from his mistakes, but doesn't dwell on them, Scott Dochterman writes in The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. The Replogle brothers anchor Indiana's defense this fall, LaMond Pope writes in The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette.
- Purdue goes through a scrimmage and a few more injuries crop up, Mike Carmin writes in The (Lafayette) Journal and Courier.
- An interesting look at Minnesota's new wide receivers coach, former NFL wideout Steve Watson, from Phil Miller of the Star Tribune. Watson is spending more time with backup quarterback MarQueis Gray these days, Marcus Fuller writes in The (St. Paul) Pioneer Press.
- Some Illinois practice notes from The (Champaign) News-Gazette's Bob Asmussen.
- Three Northwestern defensive ends are in the mix to replace standout Corey Wootton, Tina Akouris writes in the Chicago Sun-Times.
What's new: Quite a lot. Penn State loses six first-team All-Big Ten performers from 2009, including quarterback Daryll Clark and defensive tackle Jared Odrick, the league's co-Defensive Player of the Year. All eyes will be on the quarterback spot as last year's backup, Kevin Newsome, competes alongside Matt McGloin and two true freshmen, Paul Jones and Robert Bolden. The Lions also will have a new-look lineup at linebacker, although Nate Stupar and Bani Gbadyu are familiar names.
Key battle: Everyone knows about the quarterback race, which likely won't be decided until late in camp. But there are other battles, too. The offensive line has to be better this year after struggling against elite defensive fronts like Iowa and Ohio State in 2009. Penn State is set with standout Stefen Wisniewski at right guard, but the left guard spot will feature plenty of competition between DeOn’tae Pannell and Johnnie Troutman. Both players have experience but one needs to emerge.
New on the scene: Penn State brings in the Big Ten's top recruiting class and should see some immediate contributions from its freshmen. You know about the quarterbacks, but keep an eye on defenders like Khairi Fortt, Dakota Royer, C.J. Olaniyan and Mike Hull. Penn State must replace five starters on defense and build depth there as well.
Switching it up: Chaz Powell ranked fourth on the team in receiving last season, but he practiced at cornerback this spring and could be a big contributor there. Sophomore Stephon Morris did some good things as a true freshman in 2009, but Powell should push him.
Breaking out: You just know Penn State will have a new group of stars on defense after losing Odrick, Navorro Bowman, Sean Lee and others. Devon Still is poised for a big season at defensive tackle if he can stay healthy, and Jack Crawford could take the next step and become one of the league's premier pass-rushers. The linebacker group should be very interesting, as Michael Mauti, a fan favorite, gets his opportunity to shine. If Penn State finds a capable quarterback, wide receiver Derek Moye might have a breakout season.
Back in the fold: Mauti tore his ACL in camp last summer and missed the entire 2009 season. He'll definitely be in the mix for a starting spot, most likely at outside linebacker.
Quoting: "We've got a tough schedule and we've got a good young squad that's got a long way to go to be good. We've got a bunch of kids that'll work at it and get better each week. Before it's all over, we'll be a pretty good football team. How many games we'll win? I don't know." -- Head coach Joe Paterno
As expected, the quarterback competition took center stage at Beaver Stadium, and the early returns weren't too promising. Kevin Newsome and Matt McGloin both struggled, while true freshman Paul Jones, seemingly an afterthought in the race before Saturday, had the best performance. Jones twice found classmate Shawney Kersey for 18-yard touchdown passes and finished 5-of-8 passing for 67 yards.
Although the quarterbacks didn't get much help from the offensive line (concerning) or the wide receivers (less concerning), Penn State's offense remains a major question mark entering the summer. To be fair, star running back Evan Royster didn't play Saturday.
"I would rate my performance as we've got a lot of work to do," Newsome said afterward. "We've got a lot of work to do. We've got a lot of work to do. We're just going to keep working."
"A lot of eyes were on us today," McGloin said. "We didn't perform maybe up to par, maybe up to what people expected to see."
Penn State quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno said after the game that it's wrong to eliminate Jones from the race, and then added, "I checked my e-mail afterwards, and people are telling me Paul should be the starter. So it doesn't take long for people to make the decisions."
Paterno and the other coaches have more time to make the ultimate decision, and they'll look for improvement from all three signal callers by the time preseason camp rolls around.
Other nuggets from the Blue-White Game:
- The offensive line's struggles can be attributed in part to the shuffling that went on this spring. It takes time to build chemistry, and Penn State has moved around several linemen, including first-team All-Big Ten selection Stefen Wisniewski. "Obviously, there's that chemistry we need to have,'' right tackle Lou Eliades said. "I think we're only going to get better in time. Chemistry will develop. I think, by September, we'll be ready to go.''
- Nate Stupar sometimes gets overlooked when folks size up Penn State's linebacking corps for 2010, but he had a very nice performance Saturday. Stupar recorded seven tackles (six solo) and an interception.
- Defensive ends Eric Latimore and Kevion Latham both found their way into the offensive backfield, and Latimore recorded two sacks in the game. Penn State's defensive line once again should be the team's strength, as end Jack Crawford and tackle Devon Still should have big seasons.
- While backup running back Stephfon Green (4 carries, 10 rush yards) didn't do much, I liked what I saw from freshman Silas Redd, who recorded a 16-yard run and a 10-yard reception. Redd brings a nice combination of size and shiftiness.
- Penn State brings back several proven veteran receivers, but Kersey and sophomore Justin Brown, who recorded a game-high four receptions for 35 yards, could work their way into the mix. Freshman Brandon Moseby-Felder led the White team with three receptions for 31 yards.
- Wide receiver Brett Brackett, linebacker Bani Gbadyu and offensive tackle Quinn Barham received awards from the coaching staff for their performances this spring.
Jon from Tucson, Ariz., writes: Regarding the Michigan QB situation, do you get the impression that Rich Rod is just humoring Tate with the starting job until one of the Uber-Athletes steps up to snatch the job away?I like Tate, and I think he was largely underrated last year, despite some definite freshman performances, but I don't get the feeling that he's going to be welcome as a 4-year starter in Rich's program. Specifically, once Devin Gardner (at 6'4") gets online as a viable option, Tate, IMO is history at UM.
Adam Rittenberg: I don't think Rodriguez has the luxury to humor anyone right now, especially a quarterback. If Tate gives Michigan the best chance to win right away, he'll be the starter. But this is certainly more of a real quarterback competition than what we saw the last two seasons in Ann Arbor. Devin Gardner could very well be the quarterback of the future at Michigan. He certainly has both the physical tools, and, from what coaches told me last week, the intelligence to play the position at a high level. Is Forcier just a stopgap? Maybe or maybe not, but he still could be the Wolverines' best option in a season where the coaches need results to be back in 2011.
Nina from Palo Alto, Calif., writes: Adam, what's worse. If a team steals offensive signals or a quarterback steals laptop computers (how about a rim shot)?
Adam Rittenberg: Nina will be here all night, ladies and gentlemen. The late show is different from the early show. And be sure to tip your waitress.
Scott from Philadelphia writes: Adam, love the blog, but what's with the lack of love for PSU linebackers on your Underrated Linebackers piece? I know its not our best crew, (its tough to compete with Posluszny, Lee and Connor as your starting LBs), but what about Mauti, Gbadyu, Stupar or Colasanti? You don't think any of them will step up and be a force to be reckoned with? Especially given how Penn State always seems to have stud LBs coming out of the woodwork.
Adam Rittenberg: Scott, I don't think you understood the point of that post. I wanted to recognize linebackers who had impressive seasons in 2009 but didn't get much recognition because of the Big Ten's incredible linebacker depth, to which Penn State contributed. These players are all returning for 2010, so that's why I listed them. One example of an underrated linebacker not returning for 2010 is Penn State's Josh Hull, who led the team with 116 tackles last fall. None of the Penn State linebackers you've listed had more than 37 tackles last season. All the guys I listed were starters in 2009, and all but one recorded 77 tackles or more (Wisconsin's Mike Taylor led the team in tackles before his knee injury Oct. 17). Will Penn State have a star or two emerge at linebacker this fall? I wouldn't bet against Ron Vanderlinden's crew, but those players don't meet my definition of underrated for that post.
Jason from East Lansing, Mich., writes: Adam, for the love of god. Can you please end the rather hall incident with Mark Dantonio saying that Owen Wilson a starter on the troubled D-line can NOT COME BACK due to lying about not being involved even though it was his first offense?! All national exposure to this subject has gone against Dantonio implying that he is only letting the starters or contributors back on the team!!!!!!!!Can you please write a head liner on Owen Wilson please?!!!!!!! Or is it just going to get buried on a head liner that says another one of MSU football players was reinstated after his jail time was up?!!!!!
Adam Rittenberg: First of all, it's Oren, not Owen!!! And I did include the fact that he's not coming back in my news story. A player being reinstated is almost always going to be more headline-worthy than a guy who the coach already said was transferring. I also praised both Michigan State and Dantonio for making the right call with Wilson, who didn't deserve another chance after failing to come forward about his involvement until he was identified after the bowl game. My advice for Michigan State fans is to sit back and just take it right now. This was an unfortunate incident that involved a ton of players, but it's essentially over now. Look forward to the 2010 season, which I think will be good in East Lansing, and stop worrying about national exposure. If the Spartans win this fall, a lot of this stuff will go away.
Tim from Oakland, Calif., writes: Adam.It's pseudo blogs like yours that compel people to distrust the media and pseudo-media like you.First, there is nothing new here. You and your 'media' brethren just repeat the same old crap whether it's true or not. Everyone says the allegations are major when no one knows that because that is still being deliberated. So all this garbage is just speculation, which is what you idiots do best -- guess.I have stopped reading blogs like yours because the information either is just retreaded or purely speculative, which never amounts to anything. You can speculate all you want, but it means nothing.You are entitled to your opinion, sure. but yours is no more learned than anyone else's.
Adam Rittenberg: Wow, Tim, I'm truly crushed that you've reduced me to a pseudo blogger. The following words come directly from the NCAA's letter to Rich Rodriguez, dated Feb. 22: "You should understand that all of the allegations charged in the notice of allegations are considered to be potential major violations of NCAA legislation, unless designated as secondary violations." No designation was made, so according to the NCAA, not me or anyone else, Michigan is facing potential major violations. Sure, it's been deliberated and could change. No decisions about guilt or innocence have been made. As for speculation, that's part of my job, but to think there won't be at least some repercussions for Michigan is pretty naive. Just look at the NCAA's history with situations like this. There's usually some penalty or penalties.
Paul from Johnstown, Pa., writes: Adam, With the recent news that the Capital One/Citrus Bowl will be installing artificial turf for next season, I got to thinking...why? Other than the sissies and equipment managers, is there anyone who does not like to see grass and mud stains on the jerseys and helmets of two clashing college football teams? Seriously, this is football. If your team cannot play this game, except under ideal conditions, then you shouldn't have a team and you shouldn't play.
Adam Rittenberg: Paul, aside from the national embarrassment for the bowl game to have such a dreadful field, there are injury risks and other factors. A lot of those guys in the Capital One Bowl are playing their final college game before going onto the NFL, and the bowl game doesn't want to see guys slipping and falling and getting hurt. I agree that the weather is part of the game, especially in the Big Ten, but player safety has to be considered, especially when you have the technology to help prevent injuries. I also think the bowl experience is different than the regular season. It's a reward for players and coaches, and the conditions should be as ideal as they can possibly be. They certainly weren't for Penn State and LSU at the Citrus Bowl Stadium.
Jon from Tumalo, Ore., writes: Adam, are all spread offenses "gimmicky" or just Oregon's? How is what OR runs any different, other than perhaps an emphasis on the run game over the passing game, than the majority of spread O's run across the country?Is OR's O any less "gimmicky" than Michigan or Pudue's O?Of course, unlike the great D players at Indiana, Purdue, Michigan, Illinois and Minnesota the guys in the PX are all "arm tacklers?" How sick has Pryor when on his game made B10 defenders look?Rey Malaluga, Brian Cushing, Clay Matthews can't tackle? Seems they did an OK job against the B10 for years, no?BTW: There are many PX grads starting on the D line in the NFL (mebane, Ngata, Patterson, etc.) Where did they learn to tackle?TOSU finally wins a BCS game and it's because the Ducks can't tackle? What does this say about TOSU
Adam Rittenberg: Jon, I probably came on too strong about the gimmicky part, as a lot of offenses these days fall under the spread label. And Oregon does run a very effective offense that is a ton of fun to watch. I just got tired of everyone, especially my media colleagues, fawning over offenses from Oregon and Georgia Tech during the bowl season, and dismissing Big Ten defenses just because they were from the Big Ten. Ohio State and Iowa made Oregon and Georgia Tech look pretty average, and in Iowa's case, the Hawkeyes totally dominated the triple option. Yes, the Pac-10 has some good defenders, but I don't believe the league's overall quality of defense matches up with the Big Ten. Just like the Big Ten offenses don't match up overall with the Pac-10. I watched the Civil War last year, and Oregon State displayed some of the worst tackling I've seen from a BCS team. Did Oregon have something to do with it? Sure. But the Ducks had more trouble shaking free of Ohio State's defenders in the Rose Bowl.
Then, in classic Paterno fashion, he muttered, "I'm here. Unfortunately, so are you."
Yes, we missed you, JoePa.
- There's no timetable on a decision to name a starting quarterback. Paterno is open to modifying the offense so it fits the players' strengths. "We want to get them comfortable, see what they can do, and not do more than what they can handle," he said.
- Paterno reiterated that former walk-on Matt McGloin is very much in the mix at quarterback, while wide receiver Brett Brackett hasn't been working with the signal callers this spring. Paterno is making the rounds in spring ball and hasn't seen much of early enrollee Paul Jones. JoePa is happy with the way Kevin Newsome handles himself in the huddle, saying Newsome "has made a lot of progress."
- Wide receiver Chaz Powell is getting a look at cornerback this spring. Powell ranked fourth on the team in receptions with 28 last fall. He also served as the team's primary kickoff return man and finished second in all-purpose yards (67.8 ypg). Powell played both defensive back and wide receiver in high school and was a standout on special teams. "I'm not sure Powell's going to be a corner," Paterno said. "Obviously, Powell's a good athlete. He could play offense or defense."
- Asked about the situation at offensive tackle, Paterno jokingly asked reporters if they had a big sheet of paper with them. Penn State is auditioning several players at the tackle spot, including DeOn'tae Pannell and redshirt freshman Eric Shrive. "We argue every morning, can so-and-so handle the pass protection?" Paterno said. "For me to make any kind of statement on where guys will play is ridiculous right now."
- Starting safety Drew Astorino (shoulder) and linebacker Michael Mauti (knee), who many project as a starter in 2010, are out for the spring with injuries. Reserve running back Brandon Beachum (knee) will only do some light running this spring. Paterno didn't sound too concerned about the linebacker position and likes what he has with Bani Gbadyu, Nate Stupar and Chris Colasanti.
- Paterno doesn't expect starting running back Evan Royster to do too much this spring, as he has little to prove to the coaches. Backup Stephfon Green and Shaine Thompson, a former walk-on who recently received a scholarship, will be in the spotlight there.
- The jury is still very much out on defensive tackle Brandon Ware, who has struggled with academic issues and weight problems. "I think he's still a little too heavy," Paterno said. "But he's got a long road to go academically before I'm going to think about him playing."
- Doug Klopacz is back for a fifth year and will back up Stefen Wisniewksi at center. Running back Brent Carter and defensive tackle Tom McEowen are no longer with the team.
Eric from Knoxville writes: Hey Adam, i'm a lifetime UM and BIG 10 fan and i think all the talk about expansion is great for the league in a lot of ways. I'm just wondering why i dont hear more about Nebraska. I read about Tom Osborne's thoughts in the lunch links today and coudn't help but wonder. Any thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg: We've definitely explored Nebraska here on the blog, and to recap, I think the Huskers bring a name football program, a good academic reputation, a solid overall athletic program and a below-average TV market to the Big Ten. Nebraska certainly would help from a football standpoint as a national power that seems to be on the rise again. The Huskers also excel in other sports like baseball but need to elevate their profile in men's basketball. If the expansion decision comes down to TV, which I hear it likely will, Nebraska doesn't add a market like Rutgers could. Osborne definitely sounds willing to listen to the Big Ten, and he should.
Eric from Lansing, Mich., writes: i know there are still 5 spots left in the top 30. but the only one i could think of making it still from my spartans is Jones. but even i dont think he is one of the top 5 of the conference. so how worried should i be about my team that no one still with the team cracked the top 30? oh and love the blog. i know no questions get through without the lip service.
Adam Rittenberg: First off, to Eric and to everyone, you don't need to tell me you love the blog to get in the mailblog. In fact, tell me you hate the blog if it's the truth. I want good questions, first and foremost. As for Michigan State, you'll see Greg Jones in the top 5. He was the Big Ten preseason Defensive Player of the Year and the co-postseason DPOY. Michigan State likely will have a few more players in the 2010 preseason top 30, but I'm not giving away any secrets now.
Jeff from Minneapolis writes: Adam, I totally agree with Frank the Tank's (the blogger, not the guy who wanted to go streaking through the quad up to the gymnasium) belief that the only purpose for the leaking of the Big Ten's report that they could make more money by adding Rutgers, Syracuse, or any number of schools was just a simple, and very public, message to Notre Dame and Texas saying this: while the conference could make the most money by adding one or both of them, they could still make a LOT of money without them. Simply put, it's a public way of saying that Texas and Notre Dame need the Big Ten a lot more than the Big Ten needs them. Thoughts?
Adam Rittenberg: Jeff, I was discussing this very topic with some folks who know the Big Ten well on Thursday, and then I saw Frank's blog entry. I thought a lot about this when the Big Ten announced its expansion study, whether it was a signal to Notre Dame, a last-chance proposition to join a league. Notre Dame still makes by far the most sense of any expansion candidate, and the Big Ten is a more attractive league now than it was the last time it approached the Irish. Notre Dame can increase its television revenue by joining the Big Ten. It also could increase the exposure for its non-revenue sports because of the Big Ten Network. Notre Dame should at least listen if the Big Ten reaches out. The Big Ten will be healthy if it expands, and healthy if it doesn't expand. It's not 100 percent necessary by any means.
Dave from Gold Coast, Australia, writes: Hey AdamLove reading your blog all the way here in Australia. Penn State usually has great depth at linebacker,Who did you think are the next guys to step up and continue the tradition of Linebacker U?
Adam Rittenberg: Dave, I've always wanted to visit Australia, and it's good to know there are Big Ten fans there. There's a lot of buzz among Penn State fans about Michael Mauti, who was really impressing people last summer before tearing his ACL. If Mauti's knee holds up, he'll certainly challenge for major playing time. Nate Stupar and Bani Gbadyu both got decent playing time in 2009, combining for 68 tackles. So I'd watch those two along with Chris Colasanti, Gerald Hodges and incoming freshman Khairi Fortt.
James from Key Largo, Fla., writes: What are the chances of seeing Carlos Hyde at OSU this year? I think he's the equal of a Clarett, as good as Chris Wells.
Adam Rittenberg: Hyde certainly will be in the mix this spring, James, but he's got to leapfrog several players to get significant carries. Brandon Saine has the best shot to claim a starting/featured role, along with Dan Herron. Jaamal Berry also is in the mix along with Jermil Martin and Jordan Hall. Hyde certainly generated some hype as a recruit, as did Berry, but he'll need a very strong spring to work his way into the mix.
Spring practice starts: March 30
Spring game: April 24
What to watch:
- The quarterback competition. Four-year starter Juice Williams departs, and a host of young players (and one older one) are in the mix to replace him. New offensive coordinator Paul Petrino wants to shape his system around the starting signal-caller, so he'll be looking for some separation this spring. Jacob Charest got valuable playing time behind Williams in 2009, and Eddie McGee, a part-time wide receiver, has extensive playing experience at quarterback. They'll compete with redshirt freshman Nathan Scheelhaase and true freshman Chandler Whitmer, an early enrollee.
- Fixing the defense. New defensive coordinator Vic Koenning brings an impressive résumé to Champaign, but he'll be challenged to fix a unit that hasn't been right since J Leman and Co. left following the Rose Bowl run in 2007. Koenning wants to identify leaders on defense this spring and will look to players like end Clay Nurse and linebackers Ian Thomas and Martez Wilson. Illinois' most pressing needs likely come in the secondary after the team finished 100th nationally against the pass in 2009.
- Line dance. Illinois needs to get tougher and better on both lines to turn things around in 2010. The Illini tied for eighth in the Big Ten in sacks allowed last fall, and while the run game got going late, top lineman Jon Asamoah departs. Perhaps a bigger priority is finding a pass rush on defense after finishing last in the league in both sacks and tackles for loss in 2009.
Spring practice starts: March 23
Spring game: April 17
What to watch:
- Rebuilding the back seven on D. Indiana loses three starters in the secondary and two linebackers, including blog favorite Matt Mayberry. The Hoosiers brought in three junior college defenders, two of whom, linebacker Jeff Thomas and cornerback Lenyatta Kiles, will participate in spring practice. Needless to say, jobs are open everywhere, and coordinators Brian George and Joe Palcic will be looking for playmakers to step up. Several players are moving from offense to defense, including wideout Mitchell Evans to safety.
- End game. Indiana loses a lot of pass-rushing production as multiyear starters Jammie Kirlew and Greg Middleton depart. Both starting jobs at defensive end are open this spring, and IU will look to Darius Johnson, Terrance Thomas and others to step up and make plays.
- Willis watch. Indiana hopes 2010 is the year when running back Darius Willis becomes a superstar. Getting him through spring practice healthy will be a key first step. Willis has been impressive on the field, but he has struggled with injuries for much of his career. IU's passing attack should be very strong in 2010, and if Willis can elevate the run game, the Hoosiers should put up a ton of points.
Spring practice starts: March 24
Spring game: April 17
What to watch:
- The offensive line. Rebuilding the offensive line is far and away Iowa's top priority heading into the 2010 season. The Hawkeyes are stacked at running back and boast a strong passing attack, but they'll struggle if things aren't solidified up front. Tackle/guard Riley Reiff blossomed last season and guard Julian Vandervelde also returns, but Iowa will look to fill three starting spots this spring.
- Refilling at linebacker and cornerback. Iowa's defense has been one of the nation's most opportunistic units the last two seasons, and players like Pat Angerer, A.J. Edds and Amari Spievey were three big reasons why. All three depart, so Iowa needs to reload at linebacker and find a shut-down corner (Shaun Prater?). The spotlight will be on guys like Prater, Tyler Nielsen and Jeff Tarpinian this spring.
- Sorting out the running back spot. Iowa is absolutely loaded at running back, but there's only one ball to be carried on a given play. The Hawkeyes likely will use a rotation in 2010, but who will be the featured back? Jewel Hampton will try to reclaim the top spot, which he lost because of a knee injury last summer. Adam Robinson filled in extremely well for Hampton in the lead role, and Brandon Wegher was one of the heroes of the Orange Bowl win.
Spring practice starts: March 14
Spring game: April 17
What to watch:
- Defense, defense, defense. Head coach Rich Rodriguez always will be known for his spread offense, but he won't be around much longer at Michigan if the defense doesn't significantly improve. A unit that ranked 82nd nationally last season loses its two best players (Brandon Graham and Donovan Warren) and must find contributors at linebacker, safety and cornerback. Help is on the way from the 2010 recruiting class, but Michigan can't afford a bad spring on defense.
- Devin Gardner. The heralded quarterback recruit enrolled early and will enter the mix this spring. Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson are the front-runners at quarterback, but Gardner might be the ultimate answer for the Wolverines. His ability to pick up the system and push Forcier and Robinson this spring will determine whether he sees the field in the fall or takes a redshirt.
- Running back. Carlos Brown and Brandon Minor depart, but Michigan once again should be good at the running back spot. Vincent Smith will miss spring ball as he recovers from knee surgery, but several others, including Michael Shaw and Fitzgerald Toussaint, will be competing throughout the 15 workouts. Shaw, who scored two touchdowns on 42 carries in 2009, could create a bit of separation with a good spring.
Spring practice starts: March 23
Spring game: April 24
What to watch:
- Team morale. The residence hall incident and the subsequent fallout really rocked the Michigan State program. Head coach Mark Dantonio has yet to address the status of several suspended players, and the final outcome could impact the depth chart, particularly at wide receiver. It's important for Michigan State's team leaders -- Greg Jones, Kirk Cousins and others -- to unite the locker room in the spring and do all they can to prevent further problems.
- Line dance. Michigan State needs to improve on both the offensive and defensive lines in 2010, and it all starts this spring. The Spartans must replace left tackle Rocco Cironi and center Joel Nitchman, and they also lose top pass-rusher Trevor Anderson at defensive end. As strong as the Spartans should be at the skill positions, they need to start building around linemen like Joel Foreman and Jerel Worthy.
- Keith Nichol. The versatile junior could be moved to wide receiver, but he'll get a chance to push Cousins at quarterback this spring. Nichol's skills are too valuable to waste on the sideline, particularly if Michigan State has a pressing need at receiver, but he still could be a factor at quarterback if his improves his accuracy. The speedy Nichol could run the Wildcat in addition to serving as a wide receiver, if MSU chooses to go that route.
Spring practice starts: March 23
Spring game: April 24
What to watch:
- The coordinator and the quarterbacks. Minnesota will welcome its third offensive coordinator in as many seasons, though Jeff Horton doesn't plan to overhaul the system like Jedd Fisch did a year ago. Horton's primary task will be developing quarterbacks Adam Weber and MarQueis Gray, who both struggled last fall in the pro-style system. Weber has the edge in experience, but he needs to regain the form his showed in his first two seasons as the starter. Gray brings tremendous athleticism to the table but must prove he can succeed in a pro-style offense.
- The offensive line. Head coach Tim Brewster has insisted that when Minnesota gets the offensive line on track, things really will get rolling. The Gophers need better players and arguably tougher players up front, and the line should benefit in Year 2 under assistant Tim Davis. The group should be motivated by finishing last in the Big Ten in rushing in each of the past two seasons.
- Young defenders. Minnesota loses most of its starting defense from 2009, but fans are more excited about the young talent returning on that side of the ball. Spring ball could be huge for players like Michael Carter, D.L. Wilhite and Keanon Cooper as they transition into leading roles. The Gophers' biggest losses come at linebacker, as all three starters depart.
Spring practice starts: March 29
Spring game: April 24
What to watch:
- Identify a running back. The Wildcats produced an impressive string of standout running backs under former coach Randy Walker and at the beginning of Pat Fitzgerald’s tenure, but they struggled in the backfield in 2009. Northwestern returns the Big Ten’s most experienced offensive line, so identifying a primary ball carrier or two this spring is vital. Arby Fields and Scott Concannon showed a few flashes last year but must get more consistent, while Mike Trumpy will be an interesting addition to the mix.
- Polishing Persa. Dan Persa steps in at quarterback for second-team All-Big Ten selection Mike Kafka, and he’ll try to walk a similar career path. Kafka transformed himself in the offseason a year ago to become an extremely consistent passer, and Persa will need to do the same. Persa could be the best running quarterback Northwestern has had since Zak Kustok, but his size and the nature of the offense suggests he’ll need to make strides with his arm. NU also needs to see progress from backup Evan Watkins, as it lacks overall depth at quarterback.
- Reload in the secondary. Northwestern loses three starters in the secondary, including all-conference selections Sherrick McManis and Brad Phillips. Fitzgerald will lean heavily on cornerback Jordan Mabin and safety Brian Peters to lead the group, but he needs a few more players to emerge this spring. Defensive backs like Justan Vaughn have experience and must transition into featured roles.
Spring practice starts: April 1
Spring game: April 24
What to watch:
- Running back competition resumes. Brandon Saine and Dan Herron finished strong in 2009, but they can’t get too comfortable. Several young running backs, including Jordan Hall, Jaamal Berry, Jermil Martin and Carlos Hyde, will be competing for carries this spring. Saine likely has the best chance to lock down a featured role at running back, but if the hype about Berry pans out, it’ll be a dogfight.
- Pryor’s evolution. After Ohio State’s victory in the Rose Bowl, both Terrelle Pryor and Jim Tressel talked about the game being a key juncture in Pryor’s development. The junior quarterback must build on his performance this spring, especially from a passing standpoint. Ohio State can be a more balanced and more effective offense in 2010, but Pryor needs to keep making strides.
- Safety squeeze. The Buckeyes didn’t lose much from the 2009 team, but the safety spot took a hit as first-team All-Big Ten selection Kurt Coleman as well as key contributor Anderson Russell depart. Jermale Hines looks like the answer at one spot, and he’ll enter the spring with high expectations. Ohio State needs to build around Hines and identify playmakers for an increasingly opportunistic unit.
Spring practice starts: March 26
Spring game: April 24
What to watch:
- Quarterback, quarterback, quarterback. No surprise here, as Penn State’s quarterback competition will be one of the Big Ten’s top storylines until September. Two-year starter Daryll Clark departs, leaving a major void under center. Sophomore Kevin Newsome played a bit last fall and has been in the system for a full season. He’ll enter the spring with a slight edge, but Matt McGloin and early enrollee Paul Jones also will be in the mix before Robert Bolden arrives this summer.
- Getting better up front. All-America candidate Stefen Wisniewski leads an offensive line that will have more experience and needs to make strides this spring. The line struggled against elite defensive fronts last year (Iowa, Ohio State) but should have more cohesion after another offseason together. The tackle spots will be interesting to watch, as Dennis Landolt departs. Penn State’s defensive line needs to shore up the middle after losing Big Ten co-Defensive Player of the Year Jared Odrick.
- Linebacker U. put to the test. Penn State has a proven track record of reloading in the defensive front seven, but it loses a lot of production, especially at linebacker. All three starting spots are open this spring, and the spotlight will turn to players like Nate Stupar, Bani Gbadyu, Chris Colasanti and others to fill the production and leadership gaps left by Sean Lee, Navorro Bowman and Josh Hull.
Spring practice starts: March 24
Spring game: April 17
What to watch:
- Marve watch begins. The starting quarterback job is open, and all eyes will be on Miami transfer Robert Marve. One of the nation's most decorated recruits in 2007, Marve started for the Hurricanes in 2008 but ran into problems and transferred. Slowed by an ACL injury last summer and fall, Marve will have every chance to establish himself this spring as he competes with Caleb TerBush.
- Wide-open secondary. All four starters depart in the secondary, creating plenty of competition back there this spring. Players like safety Albert Evans and cornerback Charlton Williams will be in the spotlight as they try to nail down jobs. Purdue should be better in the front seven in 2010, but you can bet opposing quarterbacks will attack an unproven secondary.
- The run defense. It's a huge priority for Purdue to improve against the run after finishing last in the Big Ten in rush defense in each of the past two seasons. Linebacker Jason Werner's return for a sixth year is huge, and Purdue boasts one of the Big Ten's top D-linemen in Ryan Kerrigan. Those two must provide leadership and foster more cohesion from the younger players around them. New D-line coach Gary Emanuel will be instrumental in the process this spring.
Spring practice starts: March 13 (break from March 29-April 2)
Spring game: April 17
What to watch:
- The secondary. Wisconsin looks pretty solid on the defensive line and at linebacker, so getting the secondary up to par will be key this spring. Safety Jay Valai is a vicious hitter, but can he become an All-Big Ten-caliber safety? Aaron Henry joins Valai at safety after struggling at cornerback in 2009. Wisconsin also will look for continued progress from corners Devin Smith and Niles Brinkley.
- Replacing Schofield. Bret Bielema told me earlier this week that the competition at defensive line is once again heating up this offseason. Wisconsin must replace first-team All-Big Ten end O'Brien Schofield, who ranked second nationally in tackles for loss (24.5) in 2009. J.J. Watt has superstar written all over him, but Wisconsin will look for more pass-rush ability from David Gilbert and Louis Nzegwu.
- The wide receivers/tight ends. Wisconsin showed at times last fall that its passing attack could be dynamic, and it will look for big things from several players this spring. Wideout Nick Toon certainly has what it takes to be a star in the Big Ten, and Lance Kendricks showed in the Champs Sports Bowl that he's a capable successor for Garrett Graham at tight end. The Badgers will look to David Gilreath, Isaac Anderson and Kyle Jefferson to fill the No. 2 wideout spot.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Senior outside linebacker and co-captain Sean Lee won't play tonight because of a sprained left knee, but his teammates are picking up the slack.
Navorro Bowman hasn't missed a beat after sitting out the last two games with a groin injury he re-aggravated in the opener. Both Bowman and Josh Hull have contained Iowa's run game for the most part, and Bani Gbadyu also is chipping in. Bowman makes a huge difference on run plays, as he's constantly in the backfield.