NCF Nation: Mortty Ivy

Posted by'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:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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'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):


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)


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)


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.'s All-Big East team

December, 10, 2008
Posted by's Brian Bennett

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


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


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


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

Posted by's Brian Bennett

When Bill Stewart got the West Virginia head coaching job after last season's Fiesta Bowl, defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel was one of two assistants to remain with him.

Everyone except Stewart, Casteel and defensive line coach Bill Kirelawich followed Rich Rodriguez to Michigan. And thanks in large part to Casteel staying behind, the Mountaineers may be able to stay on top the Big East.

"It's been a godsend," said Stewart, who added that when he found out Casteel would stay that "I was the happiest guy in Morgantown and the happiest guy in the state of West Virginia."

The West Virginia offense has begun to ignite the past two games, but for several weeks the defense had to hold things together. The Mountaineers lead the Big East in scoring defense and have shut out four of their past five opponents in the second half.

The offense hit some bumps in the road as it adjusted to first-year offensive coordinator Jeff Mullen. But Casteel has overseen the defense since 2001, so the players on that side didn't face as much of a transition.

"That helps a lot," senior linebacker Mortty Ivy said. "We all know the system, and he knows what he's doing, so it gives us all confidence."

(Read full post)

 AP Photo/Jeff Gentner
 Defensive coordinators have to devise ways to stop Jarrett Brown at a number of positions.

Posted by's Brian Bennett

West Virginia's offense lacked a playmaker who could get things done in short -yardage situations and take some heat off Noel Devine and Pat White. It didn't seem like the Mountaineers had such a guy on their roster -- until they turned to their backup quarterback.

Jarrett Brown, who has served as White's emergency replacement the past two years, was all over the field during last week's 27-3 win over Marshall. He lined up in the backfield next to White, split out wide as a receiver and took over quarterback duties when White went out with a bruised thumb.

"I'm the biggest conservative in the world, but yet I have enough riverboat gambler in me to go for it," head coach Bill Stewart said of putting Brown in those different roles. "I gave him my word and I told the team that we were going to put that rascal back there and let him run."

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Brown ran eight times for 84 yards, getting 25 of those on three third-and-short opportunities. The Mountaineers had been woeful in those short yardage situations in losses to Colorado and East Carolina.

"I always joked about what can I do at running back," Brown said. "Now I can go out there and actually see what I can do. All those times waking up at 6 a.m., working that weight room and trying to win every sprint paid off, especially running between those big hogs."

Having Brown on the field gives West Virginia all sorts of options. He can throw, as he did while completing five of seven passes against Marshall. He can catch or run. Or some variety of all three. The Mountaineers tried a double reverse involving White, Brown and Jock Sanders last week, but it didn't work. There's plenty more in the playbook.

(Read full post)

Big East helmet stickers

August, 31, 2008

Posted by's Brian Bennett

There are still two games left in the Big East weekend, but the following players have already earned their hat decals:

Pat White, QB, West Virginia: Completed 25-of-33 passes for 208 yards and five touchdowns with one interceptions in West Virginia's 48-21 win over Villanova. He also ran nine times for 63 yards.

Mortty Ivy, LB, West Virginia: Had a fumble recovery, returned an interception for a touchdown and had a sack in the win over Villanova.

The South Florida defense: Limited Tennessee-Martin to just 97 total yards in a 56-7 win.

Donald Brown, RB, Connecticut: Ran for 146 yards and four touchdowns -- all in the first half -- in the Huskies' 35-3 win over Hofstra on Thursday.

Dustin Grutza, QB, Cincinnati: Completed 21-of-28 passes for 296 yards and three touchdowns, plus a rushing touchdown, in the Bearcats' 40-7 win over Eastern Kentucky on Thursday.

Dominick Goodman, WR, Cincinnati: Caught 10 passes for 144 yards and two scores in the Eastern Kentucky game.