NCF Nation: Ryan D'Imperio

Big East in the NFL draft

April, 26, 2010
The NFL's fortnight of drafting -- what, it was only three days? Really? -- came to an end this weekend. I already touched on the first-round results on Friday. Here's a look at where Big East players went the rest of the draft, with some quick comments on each pick:

Second round

No. 37: Nate Allen, S, South Florida, to Philadelphia: No surprise here, as Allen was mentioned as a possible first-rounder at various points.

Third round

No. 65: Jerome Murphy, CB, South Florida to St. Louis: Here is proof that college production isn't always the most important thing to NFL scouts. Murphy struggled against some of the Big East's better receivers, but he has great physical tools and hopefully will find his niche in the pros.

Fourth round

No. 99: Mardy Gilyard, WR, Cincinnati, to St. Louis: If you watched any Bearcats games the past two years, you know that the Rams got an absolute steal. Think Sam Bradford will like having Gilyard around?

No. 101: Mike Williams, WR, Syracuse, to Tampa Bay: He was a first-round talent who was lucky to get picked this high given his off-the-field issues.

No. 107: Marcus Easley, WR, UConn, to Buffalo: Easley had great workouts, and though some thought he would go higher than this, it's still a great story for a guy who was a walk-on this time a year ago.

Fifth round

No. 157: Arthur Jones, DT, Syracuse, to Baltimore: Jones was talked about as a possible first-rounder earlier in his career. This is a great value pick for a player who will always give maximum effort.

Sixth round

No. 177: Carlton Mitchell, WR, South Florida, to Cleveland: Mitchell looked impressive in his workouts, but falling to the sixth round makes you question if he made the right choice in skipping his senior year.

No. 182: Nate Byham, TE, Pittsburgh, to San Francisco: The best blocking tight end in the Big East during his career.

No. 204: Tony Pike, QB, Cincinnati, to Carolina: Pike has to be disappointed that he fell this low and that he was drafted by the same team that took Jimmy Clausen a couple rounds earlier.

Seventh round

No. 226: George Selvie, DE, South Florida, to St. Louis: How much would you have bet against the notion that Selvie would be a seventh-round pick at this time last year? Selvie's production dropped after his breakout sophomore year, and now he'll have to prove himself again.

No. 227: Dorin Dickerson, TE, Pittsburgh, to Houston: Surprised to see Dickerson go this low after his great Combine performance. He's a tweener who needs the right team to showcase his skills.

No. 231: Selvish Capers, OT, West Virginia, to Washington: Capers has a lot of talent and potential.

No. 237: Ryan D'Imperio, LB/FB, Rutgers, to Minnesota: The Scarlet Knights' linebacker was drafted as a fullback although he never played it in college.

No. 238: Ricardo Mathews, DT, Cincinnati, to Indianapolis: Mathews didn't get as much attention on the Bearcats' defense as some other players but had a nice senior season.

No. 249: Robert McClain, CB, UConn, to Carolina: McClain had four interceptions last year and also served as the team's punt returner.

Here's a handy-dandy list of NFL Draft picks per Big East school:

South Florida: 5

Rutgers: 3

Cincinnati: 3

Connecticut: 2

Pitt: 2

Syracuse: 2

West Virginia: 1

Louisville: 0

And, finally, some notable players who weren't drafted (I'll have more later on those who signed free-agent contracts): Andre Dixon and Lindsey Witten from UConn; Aaron Webster and Alex Daniels from Cincinnati; Scott Long from Louisville; and Jarrett Brown from West Virginia.

Posted by's Brian Bennett

The Big East doesn't put out an official preseason all-conference team. But I do. Below are my picks for the best in the league for 2009. Pittsburgh leads the way with six selections.


QB Tony Pike, Cincinnati
RB Noel Devine, West Virginia
RB Victor Anderson, Louisville
WR Mardy Gilyard, Cincinnati
WR Jonathan Baldwin, Pittsburgh
OT: Anthony Davis, Rutgers
OG: John Malecki, Pittsburgh
C: Ryan Blaszczyk Rutgers
OG: Art Forst, Rutgers
OT: Jason Pinkston, Pittsburgh
TE: Nate Byham, Pittsburgh


DE: George Selvie, South Florida
DT: Arthur Jones, Syracuse
DT: Scooter Berry, West Virginia
DE: Greg Romeus, Pittsburgh
LB: Ryan D'Imperio, Rutgers
LB: Scott Lutrus, Connecticut
LB: Reed Williams, West Virginia
CB: Aaron Berry, Pittsburgh
CB: Brandon Hogan, West Virginia
S: Nate Allen, South Florida
S: Robert Vaughn, Connecticut


P: Rob Long, Syracuse
PK: Jake Rogers, Cincinnati
KR: Mardy Gilyard, Cincinnati
PR: Jasper Howard, Connecticut

Big East lunchtime links

April, 9, 2009

Posted by's Brian Bennett

Syracuse linebacker Dan Sheeran has left the team, Donnie Webb reports in the Syracuse Post-Standard. The junior came to school as a wide receiver but was switched to outside linebacker at the start of spring practice.

• The West Virginia offense showed signs of life in Wednesday's scrimmage, especially in the passing game, Dave Hickman says in the Charleston Gazette.

• South Florida had its best practice of the spring on Wednesday according to coach Jim Leavitt, Greg Auman writes in the St. Petersburg Times.

Leavitt also talked about this afternoon's 40-yard dash event. He'll run it to set a standard for students to beat before Saturday's spring game.

Asked if there's another head coach in the Big East who would be faster than himself, the 52-year-old Leavitt said "I would think all of them," saying that he and West Virginia's Bill Stewart, 56, would "probably be neck and neck." Leavitt said his strength isn't speed, so much as persistence.

"I'm an Energizer bunny. I just go," Leavitt said. "I don't go anywhere fast, but I just keep going."

Will he pick which direction he's running? "I'm going with the wind, no question," he said.

"If I have a strong wind, I might crack a 5.9. And we're going to find wind. We'll find a slope. I might go downhill. Downhill, with the wind, I think I can get a 5.9."

• Ryan D'Imperio is embracing his role as a teacher to the younger Rutgers linebackers, Brendan Prunty writes in The Star-Ledger.

Posted by's Brian Bennett

It's never too early to start thinking about 2009 college football awards, apparently.

The Rotary Lombardi Award announced its preseason watch list today, and three Big East players made the cut.

South Florida defensive end George Selvie is the headliner. Selvie was a semifinalist for the award, given to the nation's best lineman or linebacker. Syracuse defensive tackle Arthur Jones, currently sidelined by a torn pectoral muscle, and Pitt tight end Nate Byham also made the list. 

Players who didn't make this early list still are eligible for the award. Some guys who may force their way into the discussion from the Big East include Pitt's Greg Romeus and Jabaal Sheard, UConn's Scott Lutrus, West Virginia's Reed Williams and Rutgers' Ryan D'Imperio.

Posted by's Brian Bennett

Cincinnati's seeds of success were sown by Mark Dantonio, and the Michigan State coach couldn't be happier for the Bearcats, Bill Koch writes in the Cincinnati Enquirer.

"It's a great feeling for myself and I know it's a great feeling for everybody involved in Cincinnati football that they've been able to take the next step," Dantonio said. "I knew it was possible."

• Keeping Dan Conley on as an assistant was a wise move by new Syracuse coach Doug Marrone, Bud Poliquin writes in the Syracuse Post-Standard.

• Though he still regrets a big mistake that cost him playing time last year, West Virginia defensive back Ellis Lankster has rebounded for a nice senior year, Mike Casazza writes in the Charleston Daily Mail.

• A UConn defense that's been susceptible to big plays needs to avoid those versus Buffalo, Desmond Connor says in the Hartford Courant.

• It's kind of appropriate that Jim Leavitt's South Florida Bulls are playing a football game in a baseball stadium, because Leavitt used to be quite a baseball player in his youth, Greg Auman writes in the St. Petersburg Times. Included with that story is a priceless picture of Leavitt in his baseball uniform -- and with shaggy hair.

• Rutgers linebacker Ryan D'Imperio has come a long way since a leg injury last year had him wondering if he'd play again, Keith Sargeant writes in the Home News Tribune.