Big Ten: Brandon Myers

Big Ten position rankings: WR/TE

August, 10, 2009
8/10/09
4:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

The preseason position rankings march on with the wide receivers and tight ends.

The Big Ten wasn't known for its air show last year, as only Illinois ranked among the top 25 nationally in pass offense. But most would agree the league boasts two of the nation's elite wide receivers in Illinois' Arrelious Benn and Minnesota's Eric Decker, as well as a good crop of tight ends led by Wisconsin's Garrett Graham. The overall landscape at wideout/tight end should improve this fall.

1. Illinois -- An easy choice for the top spot as Illinois boasts by far the league's best crop of wide receivers. Benn aims for a second consecutive 1,000-yard receiving season and hopes to increase his touchdowns total. Florida transfer Jarred Fayson enters the mix and should make a major impact along with Jeff Cumberland. Senior tight end Michael Hoomanawanui is one of the league's more underrated players.

2. Minnesota -- Decker certainly headlines the group and will finish his career as arguably the most decorated wide receiver in team history. But he's not alone. Junior college stud Hayo Carpenter arrives and will play alongside Brandon Green, Ben Kuznia, Da'Jon McKnight and Troy Stoudermire, who should play a much bigger role in the passing game after working more at receiver this spring.

3. Michigan State -- The Spartans return virtually everyone from a receiving corps that had some decent moments last fall. Blair White and Mark Dell both have All-Big Ten potential, and the team will look for more production from Keshawn Martin and B.J. Cunningham. The real story here is the depth at tight end. No Big Ten team boasts more as Charlie Gantt and Clemson transfer Brian Linthicum lead the way.

4. Wisconsin -- Much like Michigan State, Wisconsin brings back the core from a group that endured ups and downs in 2008. Graham enters the fall as the Big Ten's premier tight end and has Lance Kendricks and Mickey Turner behind him. The improvement at wide receiver should be the biggest difference for Wisconsin. Nick Toon could be a star this fall, and Kyle Jefferson, Isaac Anderson and David Gilreath all return. 

5.  Ohio State -- The Brians (Robiskie and Hartline) are gone, but Ohio State could be more explosive at wide receiver this season. Though Ray Small's academic situation creates some uneasiness, DeVier Posey and Dane Sanzenbacher form a nice 1-2 punch. Ohio State should be better at the tight end position with the Jakes (Ballard and Stoneburner).

6. Michigan -- This group didn't have much of a chance to shine last fall, but things should be different in 2009. The big-play potential is there with Martavious Odoms, Greg Mathews and Darryl Stonum, and redshirt freshman Roy Roundtree had a solid spring. Tight end Kevin Koger could be a very effective weapon if Michigan throws to him more. 

7. Iowa -- There are some question marks here, namely Tony Moeaki's health and Derrell Johnson-Koulianos' practice performance, but it wouldn't surprise me if Iowa climbed the list. Moeaki could bring a huge spark at tight end after the loss of Brandon Myers. Johnson-Koulianos will be motivated after his depth-chart demotion, and converted quarterback Marvin McNutt has impressed the coaches.  

8. Penn State -- I'm sure I'll hear it from Nittany Nation (as I usually do), but the loss of three multiyear starters takes a pretty big toll. It wouldn't shock me one bit if Derek Moye, Graham Zug, Brett Brackett and Chaz Powell don't miss a beat, but I need to see them excel in more featured roles. Tight end Andrew Quarless has tons of talent but needs to put it all together this fall.

9. Purdue -- The Boilers usually find a way to succeed at wide receiver, but they lose a lot in Greg Orton, Desmond Tardy and running back Kory Sheets, an excellent pass-catcher. Keith Smith steps into the No. 1 spot after recording 49 receptions last fall, but he'll need help from Aaron Valentin, converted cornerback Royce Adams and junior college import Keith Carlos. Purdue should be much better at tight end as Kyle Adams returns. 

10. Northwestern -- The program needs to prove it can reload after losing three multiyear starters (Eric Peterman, Ross Lane, Rasheed Ward). Northwestern has had high hopes for converted quarterback Andrew Brewer, but he's struggled to stay healthy. The Wildcats will lean on Brewer, junior Sidney Stewart and sophomore Jeremy Ebert, who performed well last fall. The superback position might finally be featured as Drake Dunsmore returns from a knee injury.

11. Indiana -- Last year's leading receiver (Ray Fisher) likely will start at cornerback, while the man expected to be the No. 1 (Kellen Lewis) was dismissed after spring ball. There are some major questions here, but you've got to like Indiana's young wideouts Damarlo Belcher and Tandon Doss. Sophomore tight end Max Dedmond could be a player to watch this fall.  

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Kirk Ferentz calls them Ricky Stanzi's Kodak moments, and Stanzi had an album full of them last season for Iowa. 

 
  Stephen Mally/Icon SMI
  Consistency and limiting mistakes will be key for quarterback Ricky Stanzi this season.

Stanzi made his share of mistakes in his first year as the Hawkeyes' starting quarterback, but he also showed impressive poise to bounce back virtually every time.

After committing a total of five turnovers (two interceptions, three fumbles) in consecutive losses to Northwestern and Michigan State, Stanzi steadied himself in wins against Indiana and Wisconsin. The sophomore endured a miserable performance at Illinois (2 INTs, lost fumble returned for a touchdown), only to lead Iowa to a season-defining win against then-No. 3 Penn State the following week.

The Penn State game brought out both the worst and the best of Stanzi. He had an interception and a lost fumble turn into 10 points for the Nittany Lions, but responded to lead three Hawkeyes scoring drives in the final 25 minutes. 

"The interception against Penn State was about as ugly as you can throw," Ferentz said. "I guess you could kind of see one of our guys in there, but it was through three or four of their guys. And then the Illinois thing, I've seen those situations just implode negatively for you. But both those instances, he just came right back and played and did a good job.

"That's something that's hard to teach anybody or give anybody. He really has that gene, that trait. That's a good starting point."  

Iowa knows Stanzi can bounce back when things go south, but whether he can avoid difficult situations in the first place will largely shape how the team performs this season. Stanzi no longer has Shonn Greene in the backfield, and with wideout Andy Brodell and tight end Brandon Myers gone, the junior quarterback will face increased pressure to make plays.

Though Stanzi must limit turnovers and become more consistent in the red zone -- Iowa came up empty nine times last year, the second-highest total in the league -- he has no plans to overhaul his approach.

"It's just being conscious of what you're doing out there," he said. "I know there's been times when I've turned the ball over too much. That's obvious. You can write that down as a stat. At the same time, it's not going to change my style of play because if I start doing that, you're pulling back from something that helps you make some plays."

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

When Iowa opens preseason practice next month, Hawkeyes players might want to keep their distance from Tony Moeaki.

Luck hasn't been on Moeaki's side for most of his career at Iowa, and superstitious teammates should probably steer clear of the fifth-year senior tight end.

After serving as a reserve in 2005 and 2006, Moeaki has endured a string of injuries that limited his production.

A broken hand and a dislocated elbow cut short his 2007 season four games in. He missed the following spring while recovering from wrist surgery, but hurt his left foot early in preseason camp. Another surgery followed, and Moeaki missed the first two games last fall. But the foot problem led to calf and hamstring problems, which kept Moeaki sidelined, and he also sustained a concussion.

Moeaki sat out practice after a second surgery on his foot.

"It's just been unlucky situations," Moeaki said in April, with crutches laying at his side and a boot on his foot. "None of them have been real serious injuries."

Moeaki came to Iowa as one of several heralded prospects in a highly touted 2005 recruiting class. The 6-4, 250-pound tight end caught eight passes as a true freshman and followed with 11 receptions and three touchdown catches as a sophomore.

Tabbed as Iowa's next great tight end, Moeaki entered 2007 as a starter, and he exploded for 112 receiving yards and three touchdowns in Week 2 against Syracuse. But two weeks later, his season ended at Wisconsin.

"It's been strange, odd, not anything career-threatening, not an ACL or shoulder surgery," Moeaki said.

Iowa hopes to rely on Moeaki this fall after the loss of first-team All-Big Ten tight end Brandon Myers, who ranked third on the team in both receptions (34) and receiving yards (441) and tied for the team lead in touchdown catches (4). The Hawkeyes also lose No. 2 receiver Andy Brodell, who overcame his own injury issues to have a solid 2008 season.

"It was great to see Andy get through his senior year unscathed and able to play and enjoy the year," head coach Kirk Ferentz said. "All of us are hoping for Tony to have the same thing. He's as upbeat as you could hope a guy to be."

This season marks the final chance for Moeaki and several other members of the 2005 recruiting class, including offensive lineman Dace Richardson, to make their mark. Moeaki is expected to be at full strength for the start of camp.

His coaches and teammates hope he stays that way.

"If there's any justice," Ferentz said.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

We've already looked at players to watch and spring surprises. Now it's time to look at the guys who didn't do much during spring practice but will play vital roles for Big Ten teams this season.

Who needs to step up for each team?

Donsay Hardeman, S, Illinois -- Neck surgery sounds pretty scary, but Hardeman likely will return to the field this fall after undergoing the procedure during the offseason. He can provide experience at the all-important safety spot after recording 44 tackles, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery last fall.

Deonte Mack, DT, Indiana -- Any number of players could fit in this spot for the injury-plagued Hoosiers, but Mack, who missed spring ball following hip surgery, must provide leadership at an extremely thin position. Pass-rushers Greg Middleton and Jammie Kirlew will only be effective if opponents have to worry about the interior line.

Tony Moeaki, TE, Iowa -- It's hard not to pull for Moeaki, a heralded prospect who has endured injury after injury with the Hawkeyes and was on crutches during spring ball. He's expected to return this summer and possibly fill a key role after Iowa lost first-team All-Big Ten tight end Brandon Myers.

Jonas Mouton, LB, Michigan -- Michigan's improvement on defense must start with the linebackers, and Mouton returns to the mix after shoulder surgery kept him off the field this spring. Mouton finished second on the team in tackles last fall (76) and could form a solid linebacker tandem with Obi Ezeh.

Jeremy Ware, CB, Michigan State -- One of several contributors in the Spartans' secondary to miss spring ball with injuries, Ware will be a key name to monitor during the summer. He emerged nicely last season, recording an interception and six pass breakups.

Eric Decker, WR, Minnesota -- Decker wasn't hurt this spring, but he spent the time playing center field for the Gophers' baseball team. There's little doubt he's one of the nation's best receivers, but he must absorb a new offensive system installed this spring and re-establish rhythm with quarterbacks Adam Weber and MarQueis Gray.

Corey Wootton, DE, Northwestern -- How Wootton recovers from ACL surgery could shape Northwestern's defense this fall. The All-Big Ten selection missed spring ball but is ahead of schedule on his recovery and expects to practice this summer. With questions on offense, the Wildcats need Wootton to return to top form.

Dane Sanzenbacher ,WR, Ohio State -- A projected starter in the slot, Sanzenbacher missed the latter part of spring practice with a high ankle sprain. He might be Terrelle Pryor's most dependable target heading into the fall, so a strong summer will be vital for the junior.

A.J. Wallace, CB, Penn State -- The secondary remains the biggest question mark for Penn State, and Wallace can ease some of head coach Joe Paterno's concerns with a strong preseason camp performance. Hamstring problems once again slowed Wallace this spring, but the Lions sorely need his speed in pass coverage.

Jaycen Taylor, RB, Purdue -- Taylor has by far the most experience of any Boilermakers running back, so his return this summer from a torn ACL looms large. Ralph Bolden put himself in the mix for the starting job with a stellar spring, but Taylor gives new head coach Danny Hope with a proven ball-carrying option.

Louis Nzegwu, DE, Wisconsin -- Unlike a year ago, the Badgers avoided many major injuries this spring, but they'll certainly be watching Nzegwu during the coming months. The immensely gifted sophomore improved his body and impressed the coaches early on during spring ball until sustaining a torn MCL on March 31.

Iowa spring wrap

May, 6, 2009
5/06/09
9:40
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Iowa Hawkeyes
2008 overall record: 9-4

2008 conference record: 5-3

Returning starters

Offense: 6; Defense: 8; Special teams: 2

Top returners

QB Ricky Stanzi, LT Bryan Bulaga, RT Kyle Calloway, RB Jewel Hampton, LB Pat Angerer, LB A.J. Edds, CB Amari Spievey, DE Adrian Clayborn, S Tyler Sash, P Ryan Donahue

Key losses

RB Shonn Greene, TE Brandon Myers, G Seth Olsen, C Rob Bruggeman, DT Mitch King, DT Matt Kroul, CB Bradley Fletcher

2008 statistical leaders (* returners)

Rushing: Shonn Greene (1,850 yds)
Passing: Ricky Stanzi* (1,956 yds)
Receiving: Derrell Johnson-Koulianos (639 yds)
Tackles: Pat Angerer* (107)
Sacks: Mitch King (4)
Interceptions: Pat Angerer and Tyler Sash* (5)

Spring answers

2009 Schedule

Sept. 5 Northern Iowa
Sept. 12 at Iowa State
Sept. 19 Arizona
Sept. 26 at Penn State
Oct. 3 Arkansas State
Oct. 10 Michigan
Oct. 17 at Wisconsin
Oct. 24 at Michigan State
Oct. 31 Indiana
Nov. 7 Northwestern
Nov. 14 at Ohio State
Nov. 21 Minnesota

1. McNutt emerges -- After switching over from quarterback, Marvin McNutt could play a major role at wide receiver for the Hawkeyes this fall. McNutt moved to the top of the depth chart at wideout and can be a big target for quarterback Ricky Stanzi at 6-4 and 210 pounds. The sophomore impressed the coaches throughout the spring.

2. Stanzi's time -- Stanzi established himself as the starting quarterback last year, and he took steps this spring to become more of a leader. After rebounding from mistakes to make big plays against Penn State and other opponents, Stanzi showed greater consistency with his throws during spring practices. "He's obviously a more mature player than he was a year ago," head coach Kirk Ferentz said.

3. Sharp edges -- The spring further confirmed that Iowa will be very strong on the edges of both the offensive and defensive lines. Bryan Bulaga could be one of the nation's top left tackles in 2009, and he and Kyle Calloway form the Big Ten's top tackle combination. Iowa also will lean on defensive ends Adrian Clayborn and Christian Ballard, who have taken on greater leadership roles.

Fall questions

1. No Shonn -- Record-settling running back Shonn Greene is a major loss for Iowa, and the coaches didn't get a full chance to evaluate his potential replacements this spring. Projected starter Jewel Hampton and third-stringer Jeff Brinson both missed some practice time with injuries. It will be interesting to see if Hampton establishes himself as the top back this summer, or whether Brinson or Paki O'Meara emerge.

2. Defensive tackle -- Four-year starters Mitch King and Matt Kroul might be bigger losses than Greene, and Iowa needs to build a rotation in the interior defensive line. Junior Karl Klug performed well in limited time last fall, but the Hawkeyes must identify more run stoppers.

3. DJK is MIA -- It was hardly a secret that leading receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos fell out of favor this spring. The man known as DJK must prove himself again to the coaching staff in preseason camp and show he can do more than make the flashy catch. Despite McNutt's emergence, the wide receiver position remains a bit iffy heading into the summer.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

The 2009 NFL draft was a fairly forgettable one for the Big Ten, which didn't have a top-10 pick for the first time since 2002 and had fewer first-round picks (4) than the SEC, ACC and Big 12. Michigan didn't have a player drafted until the fourth round (defensive tackle Terrance Taylor), while hoops powerhouse Connecticut already had four players drafted by that point.

The Big Ten had 28 players drafted overall and 15 in the first three rounds, the second-highest total for a league.

Here's the team-by-team breakdown of draft picks, which looks pretty good if you're an Ohio State fan.

OHIO STATE

Picks: 7

PENN STATE

Picks: 5

  • Defensive end Aaron Maybin, Bills (1st round, No. 11)
  • Wide receiver Derrick Williams, Lions (3rd round, No. 82)
  • Wide receiver Deon Butler, Seahawks (3rd round, No. 91)
  • Guard Rich Ohrnberger, Patriots (4th round, No. 123)
  • Center A.Q. Shipley, Steelers (7th round, No. 226)

IOWA

Picks: 4

WISCONSIN

Picks: 4

  • Defensive end Matt Shaughnessy, Raiders (3rd round, No. 71)
  • Linebacker DeAndre Levy, Rams (3rd round, No. 76)
  • Guard Kraig Urbik, Steelers (3rd round, No. 79)
  • Tight end Travis Beckum, Giants (3rd round, No. 100)

ILLINOIS

Picks: 3

PURDUE

Picks: 2

MICHIGAN

Picks: 2

  • Defensive tackle Terrance Taylor, Colts (4th round, No. 136)
  • Cornerback Morgan Trent, Bengals (6th round, No. 179)

MICHIGAN STATE

Picks: 1

Northwestern, Minnesota and Indiana did not have any players drafted this year.

Notable Big Ten players not drafted included: Iowa defensive tackle Mitch King, Ohio State offensive tackle Alex Boone, Michigan State quarterback Brian Hoyer, Penn State defensive end Maurice Evans, Purdue running back Kory Sheets, Northwestern running back Tyrell Sutton, Wisconsin running back P.J. Hill and Michigan State safety Otis Wiley.

A few final thoughts from the draft.

  • Wells entered the 2008 season as a sure-fire top-10 pick, but his injury history dropped his stock a bit. He still ended up in a pretty good spot and should have an excellent pro career if he stays healthy.
  • The draft reiterated how bad the Big Ten is at the quarterback spot, with only one signal-caller selected (Painter).
  • The Giants will get a steal in Beckum if the former All-American stays healthy. I also liked Seattle's move to land Penn State's Butler, a reliable and quick target. The Bears could get a steal at linebacker with Freeman, who would have been the top defender on most college teams.
  • It will be fascinating to see how Greene and Ringer perform in the pros after carrying their respective college teams last fall.
  • I was shocked not to see Iowa's King get drafted. He might not fit the NFL "measurables," but he creates havoc in the middle of the defensive line and might have been the Big Ten's defensive MVP last fall.
  • As I wrote in November, Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald and Michigan State's Mark Dantonio deserved Big Ten Coach of the Year honors more than Joe Paterno. Fitzgerald guided Northwestern to a 9-4 mark without a single NFL draftee on his roster, while Dantonio posted the same record with only one draftee (Ringer).

Recruiting needs: Iowa Hawkeyes

January, 15, 2009
1/15/09
5:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Iowa's objectives for 2009 will be less about filling holes and more about making sure none develop next fall.

Despite losing Doak Walker Award winner Shonn Greene and a few key seniors, the Hawkeyes return most of their core pieces for the coming season. Several defensive playmakers in 2008 were underclassmen, and the team also found answers at quarterback and offensive tackle. So it's unlikely many true freshmen will see the field this fall, but Iowa can't take anything for granted with a small recruiting class.

Aside from Greene, the Hawkeyes' biggest losses come at defensive tackle, where they lose four-year starters Mitch King and Matt Kroul. Karl Klug looks ready to step in, but adding another interior lineman would be wise.

Linebacker seems to be a bigger focus for the 2009 class, mainly because returning starters A.J. Edds and Pat Angerer will be seniors this fall and Jeremiha Hunter will be a junior. The Hawkeyes must prepare for some impending turnover in the heart of their defense.

Iowa loses several offensive skill players, namely wide receiver Andy Brodell and tight end Brandon Myers. There's not an immediate need for replacements with guys like Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and Trey Stross back for 2009, but adding a wideout or a tight end wouldn't be a bad idea. The running back position looks solid with rising sophomores Jewel Hampton and Jeff Brinson, but Iowa will look to add another ball carrier or two.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Only one Big Ten team (Illinois) ranked in the top 25 nationally in pass offense, so this was anything but an explosive year for the league's wide receivers and tight ends. Subpar quarterback play had a role, as did injuries (Travis Beckum). Here's a look at the best of an average bunch, as well as my preseason rankings for wide receivers/tight ends.

 
 Bruce Kluckhohn/US Presswire
 Eric Decker led the Big Ten in receptions in 2008.

1. Eric Decker, Minnesota -- The junior turned in an excellent season that would have looked even more impressive if not for an ankle injury Nov. 1 against Northwestern. Decker, who will play slot receiver in the NFL next season or in 2009, led the Big Ten and ranked 16th nationally in receptions. His blocking ability makes him even more attractive to pro teams.

2. Arrelious Benn, Illinois -- Benn came on strong in Big Ten play, racking up 45 receptions for 794 yards and three touchdowns in eight league games. A likely candidate to turn pro after the 2009 season, Benn averaged 17.6 yards per catch in conference games and solidified himself as Juice Williams' top option.

3. Deon Butler, Penn State -- The former walk-on finished his college career with a flourish, leading Penn State in receptions (43), receiving yards (713) and touchdowns (7). Butler became Penn State's all-time receptions leader (175) and ranks second in career receiving yards (2,674) and third in touchdown receptions (22).

4. Derrick Williams, Penn State -- Williams' value went far beyond what he did as a wide receiver. Though he contributed to Penn State's passing attack with 40 receptions and 451 yards, his impact on returns, as a ball carrier and as a part-time quarterback in the "Wild Lion" offense was even greater. The former nation's No. 1 recruit played his best football in the twilight of his career.

5. Desmond Tardy, Purdue -- It wasn't a banner year for the Purdue offense, but Tardy did his part, particularly in Big Ten play. The senior finished third in receiving yards in league games (510). He eclipsed 100 receiving yards in four games, including each of the final two.

6. Greg Orton, Purdue -- Orton helped fill the void left by Dorien Bryant with a team-high 69 catches, which ranked second in the Big Ten behind Decker. He was reliable if not overly flashy and settled into the possession-receiver role in the Boilermakers' offense.

7. Blair White, Michigan State -- Wide receiver was a major concern for Michigan State entering the season, and White came out of nowhere to become Brian Hoyer's top option in Big Ten play. Only Benn had more receiving yards in Big Ten play than White (568), who averaged a blistering 17.1 yards per reception.

8. Eric Peterman, Northwestern -- Peterman led Northwestern in receiving for the second consecutive season and recorded all five of his touchdown receptions in Big Ten play. He made big plays at key points and seemed to finish the season playing his best football.

9. Garrett Graham, Wisconsin -- Beckum's injury really hurt the Wisconsin passing game, but Graham did a nice job of stepping up. He was the Badgers' only reliable option and led Big Ten tight ends with 37 receptions for 478 yards and five touchdowns.

T-10 Brandon Myers, Iowa -- The Hawkeyes had the nation's best running back (Shonn Greene) and didn't need to pass much, but Myers made his mark with 30 receptions and four touchdowns. The senior tight end earned first-team All-Big Ten honors from the league's coaches and helped Iowa reach a New Year's Day bowl.

T-10. Brian Robiskie, Ohio State -- He certainly had higher expectations for his senior year and probably thought Todd Boeckman, not Terrelle Pryor, would be throwing him the ball. But under the circumstances, Robiskie performed adequately and grabbed a league-high eight touchdown receptions.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

After studying the All-Big Ten selections for 2008, it's clear the Big Ten is much stronger at some positions than others. The fact that it was hard to choose a second-team All-Big Ten quarterback tells you something about the league's troubles under center. On the flip side, there are 10-15 defensive linemen worthy of All-Big Ten status.

With the regular season wrapped up, here's a closer look at the Big Ten positions, from strongest to weakest.

Defensive line -- The depth at both line positions is astounding and will be reflected in the next few NFL drafts. Beginning with end, you have Penn State's Aaron Maybin, Minnesota's Willie VanDeSteeg, Michigan's Brandon Graham, Northwestern's Corey Wootton and Indiana's Jammie Kirlew. Guys like Michigan's Tim Jamison, Illinois' Derek Walker, Michigan State's Trevor Anderson, Wisconsin's Mike Newkirk, Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan and Penn State's Josh Gaines would be all-conference in most leagues, but not the Big Ten. The tackle spot might be even more stacked. Iowa's Mitch King leads the way, but he's joined by teammate Matt Kroul, Penn State's Jared Odrick, Michigan's Terrance Taylor, Northwestern's John Gill and Ohio State's Nader Abdallah.

Running back -- If not for the overwhelming depth on the D-line, this group would be No. 1 on the list. The Big Ten boasts three of the nation's top seven rushers in Iowa's Shonn Greene, Michigan State's Javon Ringer and Ohio State's Chris "Beanie" Wells. Penn State's Evan Royster also had a fabulous year. When guys like Purdue's Kory Sheets, Wisconsin's P.J. Hill, Michigan's Brandon Minor and Northwestern's Tyrell Sutton aren't even on the radar for all-conference, you've got a pretty solid group.

Linebacker -- This was another group that caused some tough choices for first-team all-conference. Ohio State's James Laurinaitis was a shoo-in, but Illinois' Brit Miller, Penn State's Navorro Bowman and Michigan State's Greg Jones are all in the mix for the other two spots. Iowa's Pat Angerer and A.J. Edds, Ohio State's Marcus Freeman, Wisconsin's DeAndre Levy and Indiana's Matt Mayberry add depth.

Offensive line (interior) -- Three centers were listed on the media's all-conference team, illustrating the depth there. Penn State center A.Q. Shipley earned Offensive Lineman of the Year honors, and Iowa's Rob Bruggeman and Illinois' Ryan McDonald also were recognized. The guard spot might be even stronger with Iowa's Seth Olsen, Penn State's Rich Ohrnberger and Stefen Wisniewski, Wisconsin's Kraig Urbik and Andy Kemp and Michigan State's Roland Martin.

Punter -- This was another group that stirred some debate about All-Big Ten selections. Michigan's Zoltan Mesko was the obvious choice, but Iowa's Ryan Donahue, Michigan State's Aaron Bates and Penn State's Jeremy Boone also were in the mix. Freshmen Brad Nortman (Wisconsin) and Chris Hagerup (Indiana) had terrific seasons, and I was also very impressed with Ohio State's A.J. Trapasso, Minnesota's Justin Kucek and Northwestern's Stefan Demos.

Cornerback -- I didn't fully grasp how strong the league was at cornerback until reviewing the All-Big Ten lists. Everyone knew about Ohio State's Malcolm Jenkins and Illinois' Vontae Davis, but several other players add depth, namely Wisconsin's Allen Langford, Iowa's Amari Spievey and Bradley Fletcher, Minnesota's Traye Simmons, Northwestern's Sherrick McManis and Michigan State's Chris L. Rucker.

Offensive tackle -- There weren't any off-the-charts performances here, but it's a solid group overall. Penn State's Gerald Cadogan moved past Ohio State's Alex Boone as the league's premier tackle. Boone didn't have the dominant year many expected, but he wasn't the main problem on Ohio State's underachieving line. Add in players like Iowa's Bryan Bulaga, Illinois' Xavier Fulton and Wisconsin's Eric Vanden Heuvel, and it's a decent group.

Safety -- Michigan State's Otis Wiley might be the only surefire NFL draft pick from this crop, but several other players turned in strong performances. Ohio State's Kurt Coleman should have been second-team All-Big Ten for both the media and coaches, and Northwestern's Brad Phillips has a major beef for being left off the list. Other standouts include Iowa's Brent Greenwood, Wisconsin's Jay Valai and Minnesota tandem Kyle Theret and Tramaine Brock.

Kicker -- A decent group overall, led by Penn State's Kevin Kelly and Michigan State's Brett Swenson, both of whom should have been Lou Groza Award semifinalists. Wisconsin's Philip Welch quietly had a very solid season (17-for-20), and Northwestern's Amado Villarreal also performed well.

Tight end -- Not the best season for tight ends, though it didn't help that Wisconsin All-American Travis Beckum was hurt for most of the fall. His replacement Garrett Graham had a nice year, as did Iowa's Brandon Myers, Michigan State's Charlie Gantt, Minnesota's Jack Simmons and Illinois' Michael Hoomanawanui, but it wasn't a great group overall.

Wide recever -- Minnesota's Eric Decker and Illinois' Arrelious Benn will be solid NFL players, and Penn State's Derrick Williams also will get to the next level. But quarterbacks and wide receivers are intertwined, and neither position sizzled this season. Penn State's three seniors (Williams, Deon Butler and Jordan Norwood) performed well, as did Purdue's Greg Orton and Wisconsin's David Gilreath. But not much depth here.

Quarterback -- This was the worst quarterback crop
in recent memory. Penn State's Daryll Clark was fabulous in his first season as the starter, and both Illinois' Juice Williams and Minnesota's Adam Weber showed growth at times. But it was legitimately difficult to choose a second-team all-league quarterback. Several fifth-year seniors struggled this fall, though there's hope for next year with players like Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor and Iowa's Ricky Stanzi.

Tags:

Big Ten Conference, Corey Wootton, Terrelle Pryor, Bradley Fletcher, Kory Sheets, Stefan Demos, Tim Jamison, Mike Newkirk, Kyle Theret, Kevin Kelly, Michael Hoomanawanui, Illinois Fighting Illini, Wisconsin Badgers, Nader Abdallah, Michigan Wolverines, Terrance Taylor, Bryan Bulaga, Navorro Bowman, Michigan State Spartans, Justin Kucek, Garrett Graham, A.J. Trapasso, Eric Vanden Heuvel, Stefen Wisniewski, DeAndre Levy, Iowa Hawkeyes, Arrelious Benn, Jack Simmons, Ryan Donahue, Aaron Bates, Josh Gaines, Jeremy Boone, Eric Decker, Shonn Greene, Brandon Myers, Traye Simmons, Chris Wells, Matt Mayberry, Aaron Maybin, Charlie Gantt, Tyrell Sutton, Northwestern Wildcats, Deon Butler, Ricky Stanzi, Jammie Kirlew, Pat Angerer, Indiana Hoosiers, Brandon Graham, Juice Williams, Amado Villarreal, Xavier Fulton, Rich Ohrnberger, Daryll Clark, Gerald Cadogan, James Laurinaitis, Roland Martin, Sherrick McManis, Jared Odrick, Rob Bruggeman, Big Ten Conference, Evan Royster, Jordan Norwood, Seth Olsen, Travis Beckum, Brit Miller, Chris Hagerup, Tramaine Brock, Brad Phillips, Kraig Urbik, Brad Nortman, Marcus Freeman, Chris L. Rucker, A.Q. Shipley, Derrick Williams, Vontae Davis, Purdue Boilermakers Ryan Kerrigan, Malcolm Jenkins, Zoltan Mesko, Otis Wiley, Adam Weber, Kurt Coleman, Derek Walker, Brent Greenwood, Greg Orton, Amari Spievey, Penn State Nittany Lions, Philip Welch, Mitch King, David Gilreath, Brett Swenson, Greg Jones, Matt Kroul, Ryan McDonald, Alex Boone, Allen Langford, Minnesota Golden Gophers Willie VanDeSteeg, Trevor Anderson, Javon Ringer

Big Ten depth chart tidbits

October, 13, 2008
10/13/08
7:51
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Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

  • Ohio State shuffled its struggling offensive line on this week's depth chart, moving Ben Person from right guard to left guard, Jim Cordle from left guard to right guard and one-time starter Steve Rehring to backup left guard. The Buckeyes need a better performance up front Saturday at Michigan State (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET).
  • Defensive end Adrian Clayborn and tight end Brandon Myers remained the starters on Iowa's depth chart despite suffering injuries Saturday at Indiana.
  • Northwestern went back to freshman Jeravin Matthews and senior Omar Conteh as its kickoff return men after Sherrick McManis had a key fumble in Saturday's loss to Michigan State.

Some depth chart tidbits

September, 30, 2008
9/30/08
9:39
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Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

More to come on these personnel issues after the Big Ten coaches' call later today, but a few interesting items on the depth charts released Monday.

  • Free safety Nick Polk is not listed on Indiana's depth chart for Minnesota, possibly indicating he'll miss another game with a knee injury. Polk has an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery this season. Strong safety Austin Thomas is listed as the starter after missing the last two games with a leg injury. Brandon Mosley started in place of Thomas against Michigan State, but Jerimy Finch played a lot.
  • Ohio State true freshman Mike Brewster has made a good impression so far and remains the co-starter at center even though Steve Rehring could be back from a foot injury. Brewster and junior Jim Cordle are listed as co-starters at center, while Cordle and Rehring are co-starters at left guard. The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Doug Lesmerises thinks Ohio State might move Cordle to right guard to keep him on the field. The Buckeyes also have co-starters at one cornerback spot (Chimdi Chekwa and Donald Washington) and defensive tackle (Doug Worthington and Nader Abdallah).
  • Penn State wide receiver Jordan Norwood is listed as probable for the Purdue game after sitting out against Illinois with a hamstring injury. Quarterback Daryll Clark said Norwood did some light jogging at Monday's practice. "It's a day-to-day thing if he's going to play or not," Clark said. "He tweaked a hamstring really good."
  • Sophomore Ricky Stanzi remains the definitive starter at quarterback on Iowa's depth chart. Brandon Myers and the oft-injured Tony Moeaki are co-starters at tight end for the Michigan State game.
  • Physically gifted junior tight end Carson Butler has dropped to third string on Michigan's depth chart. Butler, who was ejected from a Sept. 13 game at Notre Dame for throwing a punch, dressed for last Saturday's game against Wisconsin but didn't play. Fifth-year senior Mike Massey and true freshman Kevin Koger, who caught a touchdown pass against the Badgers, are ahead of Butler. Head coach Rich Rodriguez called the move a coach's decision.
  • Linebacker Jason Werner, who recently underwent minor back surgery, isn't listed on Purdue's depth chart for Penn State. Frank Duong and Dwight Mclean are listed as co-starters at strong safety.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Injuries decimated Iowa throughout the 2007 season, and the health watch doesn't look good for the team's Aug. 30 opener. Coach Kirk Ferentz announced after today's scrimmage that starting tight end Tony Moeaki (foot) and wide receiver Trey Stross (hamstring), a potential starter, will miss the opener against Maine, Randy Peterson writes in the Des Moines Register.

The Hawkeyes should be fine without both players for the Maine game, but they can't afford those injuries to linger. Returning starter Brandon Myers will step in for Moaeki, while Andy Brodell, Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and promising sophomore Colin Sandeman lead the wideouts.

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