Big Ten: Jeff Casteel

Big Ten mailbag

January, 13, 2009

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Step into my office ...

Brian from Batavia, Ill., writes: Adam, I think we all need to watch out for a huge break out season from Thaddeus Gibson this next year. We saw that he has the game breaker ability when he returned a fumble this year for a touchdown! He had a solid Fiesta Bowl (even though he got flagged for personnel fouls???), but i was wondering what players also are bound to have huge breakout seasons this next year?

Adam Rittenberg: Brian, I completely agree with you on Thad Gibson. He was a force during the second half of the season and really made the Buckeyes' defensive line better. I look for huge things from him in 2009. Other guys who should step up next fall include Penn State linebacker Navorro Bowman, Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham, Iowa running back Jewel Hampton, Northwestern safety Brad Phillips, Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber, Illinois linebacker Martez Wilson and Ohio State wide receiver DeVier Posey. I could go on and on.

Rob from Seattle writes: Who do you think RichRod WILL get to fill the DC vacancy at Michigan, and who do you think he SHOULD get? I think Corwin Brown would be a great fit - he's played and coached the 3-4 and 3-3 defenses, he's got Michigan roots (which Rod could REALLY use) and he should be available, given the situation at ND.

Adam Rittenberg: That's an interesting take, Rob. I doubt Corwin would want to leave Notre Dame for another coordinator spot, but you never know. It's a bit of an odd arrangement in South Bend with Brown and Jon Tenuta, but Brown has some loyalty to Charlie Weis. I don't see him leaving unless it's a head-coaching position. The fact Rich Rodriguez hasn't promoted another assistant (Jay Hopson) suggests he'll be talking to candidates this week at the AFCA Convention. West Virginia defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel would seem like a good fit, but he didn't join Rodriguez the first time around at Michigan. I think Rich wants to go with a three-man front, so he should find someone who specializes in that alignment.

Brian from New York writes: Dear Adam, Watching Terrelle Pryor in the Fiesta Bowl evade tacklers in the open field and catch that fade pass for a TD over a hapless Texas DB had me wondering. Is Terrelle Pryor in fact a better pro prospect at WR rather than QB. OSU will win more with him at QB, but if he spent the next two years learning how to run precise pass routes instead of fixing his subpar throwing mechanics (which clearly have a long way to go), he could become unstoppable in college and perhaps the next Randy Moss at the pro level with his combination of size, speed, and hand-eye coordination. Then again, he could just wait until he graduates to switch over to WR like Matt Jones or Antwan Randle El, but I'm assuming some NFL scouts have already started thinking about this possibility.

Adam Rittenberg: Brian, you're not the first person to bring up the point about Pryor playing wide receiver in the NFL. But Ohio State surely will stick with him at quarterback and try to help him develop as a passer. Keep in mind that he just finished his freshman year and has time to improve his passing. After watching him repeatedly beat Texas defenders to the corner in the Fiesta Bowl, I think Pryor needs to have the ball as much as possible for the Buckeyes. He needs to run the ball as much as Tim Tebow does for Florida. Pryor still can become a top-line pro prospect at quarterback, and my sense is that's where he'll stay throughout his pro career. But Ohio State should use his talents in as many ways as possible.

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