NCF Nation: Courtney Greene

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

Twenty-seven Big East products had their name called over the weekend in the NFL draft. Three league schools had their best drafts ever.

Cincinnati had six players taken, the most of any Big East team and the most in program history. The previous school record had been five, which happened in 1998, 1960 and 1947. The Bearcats were one of only nine schools to have six or more players drafted this year.

Connecticut had never had a player taken in the first two rounds of the draft before Saturday. Four Huskies went in the first two rounds this year, including the school's first-ever first-rounder, running back Donald Brown.

Rutgers had a record-setting five players drafted, including the Scarlet Knights' first-ever first-rounder, wide receiver Kenny Britt. The most Rutgers had ever previously had drafted in one year was three, in 2007.

Here's a rundown of all the league draft picks and some commentary:

Cincinnati

Player, Position, Round, Team

Connor Barwin, DE, 2, Houston Texans

• DeAngelo Smith, DB, 5, Dallas Cowboys

Brandon Underwood, DB, 6, Green Bay Packers

Mike Mickens, DB, 7, Dallas Cowboys

Trevor Canfield, OG, 7, Arizona Cardinals

Thoughts: Kind of surprising that Mickens went after Underwood and Smith, when he was generally regarded as the best pro prospect of the three for most of his career. The fifth round is lofty territory for a punter, but Huber is that good.

Connecticut

Player, Position, Round, Team

• Donald Brown, RB, 1, Indianapolis Colts

Darius Butler, DB, 2, New England Patriots

Will Beatty, OT, 2, New York Giants

Cody Brown, OLB, 2, Arizona Cardinals

Thoughts: We thought UConn would have a huge day, and the Huskies sure did.

Louisville

Player, Position, Round, Team

Eric Wood, C/OG, 1, Buffalo Bills

George Bussey, OT, 5, New England Patriots

Thoughts: Bussey didn't get much pre-draft buzz, but the Patriots must have liked the former walk-on who became a three-year starter and All-Big East performer. Wood will play guard for the Bills.

Pittsburgh

Player, Position, Round, Team

LeSean McCoy, RB, 2, Philadelphia Eagles

Scott McKillop, LB, 5, San Francisco 49ers

LaRod Stephens-Howling, RB, 7, Arizona Cardinals

Derek Kinder, WR, 7, Chicago Bears

Thoughts: OK, Pitt fans. How do you feel about McCoy going to Philly? Will you still root for him? Getting McKillop in the fifth round seems like a steal.

Rutgers

Player, Position, Round, Team

• Kenny Britt, WR, 1, Tennessee Titans

Mike Teel, QB, 6, Seattle Seahawks

Jason McCourty, DB, 6, Tennessee Titans

Courtney Greene, DB, 7, Seattle Seahawks

Tiquan Underwood, WR, 7, Jacksonville Jaguars

Thoughts: I didn't think Teel would get drafted, but good for him. The Titans and Seahawks must have liked Greg Schiano's program.

South Florida

Player, Position, Round, Team

Tyrone McKenzie, OLB, 3, New England Patriots

Thoughts: Despite all that Florida talent, the Bulls had the smallest draft class in the Big East.

Syracuse

Player, Position, Round, Team

Tony Fiammetta, FB, 4, Carolina Panthers

Ryan Durand, OG, 7, Tennessee Titans

Thoughts: Durand was another guy who wasn't on many mock draft boards. There were some good fullbacks in the Big East, including Pitt's Conredge Collins and Louisville's Brock Bolen. But Fiammetta was the only one drafted.

West Virginia

Player, Position, Round, Team

Pat White, QB/WR, 2, Miami Dolphins

Ellis Lankster, CB, 7, Buffalo
Bills

Pat McAfee, K, 7, Indianapolis

Thoughts: Can't wait to see how the Dolphins, who showed a lot of creativity on offense last year, use White.

Prominent players who went undrafted:

Hunter Cantwell, Louisville

Greg Isdaner and Mortty Ivy, West Virginia

Jamaal Westerman, Rutgers

• C.J. Davis, Pittsburgh

Julius Williams, UConn

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

Rutgers cornerback Devin McCourty experienced an odd sensation when spring practice began last week. For the first time in his athletic career, he was lining up without his identical twin, Jason.

Oh, brother, where art thou?

 
  Duncan Williams/Icon SMI
  Cornerback Devin McCourty is taking on a leadership role on Rutgers' defense.

"Yeah, definitely it's weird," he said. "With him not here, it's like a new stage in both of our lives. It's a new process, but I'm starting to get used to it."

Devin redshirted his first year at Rutgers, while Jason played on special teams as a true freshman. They both started at cornerback for the Scarlet Knights the past two seasons. Now Jason is preparing for a possible pro career, leaving only one McCourty on this year's team.

Devin doesn't buy into that whole notion that twins can read each others' minds and whatnot. Still, there's no denying the incredibly close connection the McCourty brothers shared.

"You're going to be in tune with somebody when you share the same room with them your whole life and every sport you've ever played, you've played together," Devin says. "You just have a feel for where they're going to be and what they're going to do next. You see it in NFL players who've played together so long; they all have a feel for whatever the other person's going to do. That's what I had with Jason."

The two brothers still talk every day, Jason updating his NFL preparations and Devin dishing out Rutgers happenings. The more important communication for Rutgers right now, though, will be going on between Devin and his current teammates.

It's not just Jason who is missing this spring. The Scarlet Knights lost senior stalwart Courtney Greene to graduation at safety, and they are practicing without Joe Lefeged, last year's other starting safety who's recovering from a shoulder injury. That leaves Devin McCourty as one of the few experienced defensive backs available this spring.

"When you have a guy like Courtney starting here for four years, replacing everything he does is tough," McCourty said. "He was a great player who made a lot of calls last year.

"It's my fifth year here, and coach is looking at me as a leader and guys are looking up at me. If I can help the safeties by making some calls or doing anything, that's what I'll try to do out there."

Jason McCourty tied for the team lead with two interceptions last year, running one back for a touchdown. His possible replacements lack much game experience. Fifth-year senior Billy Anderson, a seldom-used career reserve, came into the spring listed as the first-string cornerback opposite of Devin McCourty.

Jason was seen as having better cover skills early in his career, while Devin was viewed as the more physical of the two. Devin finished fifth on the team in tackles last season with 57, five ahead of his brother.

Both brothers are leaders on and off the field. Jason was a team captain in 2008 and was named Rutgers' male scholar-athlete of the year by the Big East. Devin has made the Big East all-academic team for three straight years.

Defensive back is a position where communication and trust are the underlying principles. Devin may never again find the same sort of connection he had with his twin, but this spring is about establishing new relationships and a new identity for the Rutgers secondary.

"I'm taking a leadership role and working with the young corners a lot, building bonds with all of them," he said. "Right now, it's like I'm a teacher and they're the student. I'm hoping by Game 1, we'll be have a perfect bond out there and be able to compete and get things going."

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

My Pac-10 counterpart Ted Miller did this earlier in the week, and I'm blatantly stealing the idea. Want to know how accurate recruiting rankings are? Let's take a look at this year's All-Big East team and see how each player was rated by the two major star-system recruiting services (where the two differ, I note the high and low end):

OFFENSE

QB Pat White (two to three stars)

RB Donald Brown (two to three stars)

RB LeSean McCoy (four to five stars)

WR Mardy Gilyard (two stars)

WR Kenny Britt (three to four stars)

TE Nate Byham (four to five stars)

OT Will Beatty (one to two stars)

OT Ryan Stanchek (two stars)

OG George Bussey (zero to one star)

OG C.J. Davis (two stars)

C Eric Wood (two stars)

DEFENSE

DL Connor Barwin (two stars)

DL Cody Brown (two stars)

DL George Selvie (one to two stars)

DL Arthur Jones (three to two stars)

LB Scott McKillop (three stars)

LB Tyrone McKenzie (two to three stars)

LB Mortty Ivy (two stars)

CB Mike Mickens (two stars)

CB Darius Butler (one to two stars)

S Brandon Underwood (three stars)

S Courtney Greene (one to two stars)

Thoughts:

Big East teams don't get a lot of "five-star" guys, but plenty of four-star players make their way into the league. I find it very interesting that the only two players on this list to reach that level were McCoy -- a no-brainer -- and Byham, who had a solid but hardly spectacular year in a league without many productive tight ends.

Offensive linemen are probably the hardest guys to evaluate, and whoever was evaluating the Big East prospects proved that. Not one of the All-Big East first team offensive linemen earned more than two stars, and the former walk-on Bussey and left tackle Beatty were rated the same as your average throw-in prospect. This isn't a bad crop, either; Wood, Beatty and Stanchek should all get drafted, with Davis and Bussey having a shot, too.

And, yes -- someone really watched Selvie and Butler play and rated them as one-star prospects. That really happened. To be fair, Selvie played center in high school and his best quality -- desire -- is hard to measure. But we're talking about a two-time All-American. And Butler's athleticism is hard to deny.

I get that White was hard to judge as a quarterback, and that a lot of teams were recruiting him as a receiver or just an all-around athlete. But for him to garner only two or three stars is absurd. Here are some of the players who were ranked as the top dual-threat quarterbacks in 2004: Robbie Reid, Kirby Freeman, Nick Patton, Larry Lerlegan and D.T McDowell. Would you trade any of them for Pat White? Heck, would you trade all of them for Pat White?

There are always going to be can't-miss prospects, and there are going to be players who improve greatly through sheer hard work and maturation. Recruiting rankings can be a useful guide and fun to look at, but if you think they predict which players will turn out to be the best in their leagues, think again. Keep this list in mind come next Wednesday, and remember to curb your enthusiasm.

ESPN.com's All-Big East team

December, 10, 2008
12/10/08
10:56
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

Here are my selections for the 2008 All-Big East team:

OFFENSE

QB: Pat White, West Virginia
RB: Donald Brown, Connecticut
RB:
LeSean McCoy, Pittsburgh
WR:
Kenny Britt, Rutgers
WR:
Mardy Gilyard, Cincinnati
TE:
Nate Byham, Pittsburgh
OT:
Ryan Stanchek, West Virginia
OT:
Anthony Davis, Rutgers
OG:
C.J. Davis, Pittsburgh
OG:
Greg Isdaner, West Virginia
C:
Eric Wood, Louisville

DEFENSE

DL: Cody Brown, Connecticut
DL: George Selvie, South Florida
DL:
Connor Barwin, Cincinnati
DL:
Arthur Jones, Syracuse
LB:
Scott McKillop, Pittsburgh
LB:
Tyrone McKenzie, South Florida
LB:
Mortty Ivy, West Virginia
CB:
Mike Mickens, Cincinnati
CB:
Darius Butler, Connecticut
S:
Carlton Williams, South Florida
S:
Courtney Greene, Rutgers

SPECIALISTS

P: Kevin Huber, Cincinnati
K: Pat McAfee, West Virginia
KR:
Mardy Gilyard, Cincinnati
PR:
Jasper Howard, Connecticut

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