Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Recruiting rewind: All-Big Ten offense
By Adam Rittenberg
After all of our hand-wringing about the official All-Big Ten teams, we hope you took the time to check out our picks on Monday.
It's always fun to look back at where the All-Big Ten selections ranked as recruits coming into their respective schools. Who matched the hype? Who exceeded it? The ESPN Recruiting database gives us a glimpse. Before you start complaining about why other recruiting services aren't used, that's not my call. This is the way we're going on these posts, so deal.
For each All-Big Ten selection, I've listed the scouting grade, which is explained here, along with where they ranked nationally overall (if applicable), by position and within their region. Note: Not all region and state rankings are available, so the Scout Grade and the national position rankings are most significant. I also list quotes from recruiting analysts about the prospects at the time (if available).
The first post takes a look at offense. The second will examine defense and special teams.
Braxton Miller was rated as the nation's No. 4 quarterback coming out of high school.
QB: Braxton Miller, Ohio State, Class of 2011 -- Scout Grade of 81, rated as nation's No. 4 quarterback and 80th best player, Ohio's No. 4 player and the No. 6 player in the Midwest region. Analysis: "This guy has really got some tools and is highly productive as a runner and passer. Miller and Teddy Bridgewater are very similar, only Miller is more fundamentally sound and consistent with his feet and delivery. He possesses adequate height and the frame to add bulk and strength. He is a true dual-threat that is advanced as a passer in comparison to most. He has a big arm and can make every single throw."
RB: Montee Ball, Wisconsin, Class of 2009 -- Scout Grade of 77, rated as nation's 74th best running back, 131st best player in Midlands region. Analysis: "At times Ball appears physically superior to his competition on film and could struggle maintaining his current yards after contact at the next level. With that said, you can't argue with his production and he is certainly built to carry the load and wear down a defense in a heavy power-running scheme. Physically ready to make the next step and carry the rock at the college level. He is compact, very thick through his thighs and lower body, and is built low to the ground assisting his in-line running strength."
RB: Le'Veon Bell, Michigan State, Class of 2010 -- Scout Grade of 69, rated as nation's 211th best running back. Analysis: "Bell has the size for the running back position at the major level of competition; however his playing speed will be a concern as he lacks the burst and 2nd gear necessary to break out of the pack for long gains. Lines up as a deep back showing adequate quickness and vision approaching the line of scrimmage; more of a straight line runner with an upright style; must learn to run over his pads when in traffic. This is a tough finisher who gets what's there but is always moving forward."
WR: Allen Robinson, Penn State, Class of 2011 -- Scout Grade of 72, rated as nation's 202nd best wide receiver, 265th best player in Midwest region. Analysis: "This a very good athlete with the body control and jumping ability to compete for high throws in a traffic; only on occasion do we see a strong hard release off the line; mostly this prospect demonstrates a short quick stride which enables to him to get in and out of cuts quickly. Does not appear to have the burst or second gear necessary to get on top of defenders and separate when running deep routes. This guy is a smart precise route runner; knows where the sticks are and gets the necessary yardage."
WR: Kenny Bell, Nebraska, Class of 2010 -- Scout Grade of 76, rated as the nation's 108th best athlete. Analysis: "Bell has the height but lacks the bulk we like to see for the running back position at the major level of competition. This is a very exciting multi-skilled athlete who is productive in a variety of ways. Does not possess the playing strength to be an every down inside the tackles runner. Takes the ball from the direct snap in the wildcat formation, as a slot on inside counter plays and can catch over the middle as a receiver; also returns kickoffs, showing a willingness to hit it inside with very good lateral quickness and change of direction."
TE: Kyle Carter, Penn State, Class of 2011 -- Scout Grade of 76, rated as the nation's 58th best tight end, 170th best player in the East region. Analysis: "He possesses good height, but needs to work to add serious bulk to that frame. He displays the ability to be a productive and fairly reliable target in the passing game as he has good hands. Flashes the ability to go up and get the ball. He runs adequate routes. Displays good concentration to make the catch with a defender on him. After the catch will fight for yards, but does not display the ability to make many defenders miss with the ball in his hands."
Taylor Lewan was the 12th best offensive tackle in the class of 2009.
OT: Taylor Lewan, Michigan, Class of 2009: Scout Grade of 80, rated as the nation's 12th best offensive tackle and 148th best player. Analysis: "He is an interesting kid who was evaluated as a defensive tackle and that was not a good fit for him. He transferred high schools after his junior season and the move seems to be agreeing with him. He is playing offensive tackle and this looks like a good fit and a promising position for him. He is a tall and lean kid with a good build, but he is lean for an offensive tackle and will need to work to add more bulk to his frame. He is a kid who plays hard and is very productive. He makes good initial contact and will flash the ability to generate power from his hips and when he does that he can drive a defender off the ball."
OG: Spencer Long, Nebraska, Class of 2009: Evaluated as a defensive end and not rated in position, region or state rankings. No recruit analysis is available.
C: Matt Stankiewitch, Penn State, Class of 2008: Scout Grade of 78, rated as the nation's No. 5 center. Analysis: "Stankiewitch is a high school offensive tackle. He has good size, but his future in college will be most likely in the interior of the offensive line. He could project to guard or even fit nicely as a center at the college level. He has that Pennsylvania blue-collar feel to his game. He displays the ability to play with leverage. He needs to be more consistent with his pad level, but can get under a defender's pads, generate power from the hips, and knock a defender off the line off scrimmage in the run game."
OG: Brian Mulroe, Northwestern, Class of 2008: Scout Grade of 75, rated as the nation's 68th best offensive tackle. Analysis: "Mulroe has a likeable quality as offensive line prospect because he plays the position hard. He has a good motor and blocks with a tenacious attitude. He gets good hand placement and is tough to beat once he gets locked on. He is light in the pants for his frame and will need to add some serious bulk as he develops, but still is able to consistently generate good push off the line scrimmage in the run game. He moves his feet and stays after his blocks and is able to get defenders moving backwards. He needs to be a bit more explosive at times and more quickly roll his hips and derive power from his lower body."
OT: Jack Mewhort, Ohio State, Class of 2008: Scout Grade of 81, rated as nation's No.2 center and 126th best player. Analysis: "Mewhort is exceptionally tall (6-foot-6) for a center, but he's a manhandler. He doesn't have natural leverage, but once he gets his claws into a defender he'll take him for a ride. Has a strong upper body and creates movement despite playing a little high. His good first step allows him to pick up stunting defensive linemen. He's exceptional on the down block, destroying defenders. Works his body into position after throwing his initial punch. Executes the shotgun snap to perfection, and can step as he delivers the ball without losing fluidity."
Thoughts: Our team is full of overachievers as only three players -- Miller, Lewan and Mewhort -- appeared in the ESPN 150 in their respective classes. Bell exceeded all expectations coming out of high school, and so did guys like Long, a walk-on at Nebraska, and Robinson, who wasn't considered an elite receiver. I think Bell's "playing speed" has worked out pretty well for the Spartans, while Ball has put to rest any concerns about getting yards after contact. The Miller-Bridgewater comparison is notable. It's always interesting to look back at these ESPN 150 lists and see names like former Ohio State running back Jaamal Berry, former Penn State quarterback Rob Bolden and former Michigan offensive lineman Dann O'Neill.