NCF Nation: Santonio Holmes

NFL.com recently finished a countdown of the Top 100 players in the NFL, as voted on by the current players in the league.

Brady

Brady


It's a fascinating list that's sure to stir a lot of debate. But since this is a Big Ten blog, we're going to concern ourselves with where the Top 100 went to college.

There are 13 former Big Ten players on the list, including No. 1: Tom Brady. (Note: We're counting Nebraska players as Big 12 products since the Cornhuskers in the NFL participated in that league. Same thing for Colorado and Utah, Miami and Virginia Tech, etc.). Here are the 13 who made the cut and how they ranked overall:

1. Tom Brady, QB, New England (Michigan)
9. Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans (Purdue)
16. Charles Woodson, CB, Green Bay (Michigan)
28. Jake Long, OT, Miami (Michigan)
43. Joe Thomas, OT, Cleveland (Wisconsin)
47. Nick Mangold, C, New York Jets (Ohio State)
58. Brandon Lloyd, WR, Miami (Illinois)
63. Cameron Wake, LB, Miami (Penn State)
64. Tamba Hali, DE, Kansas City (Penn State)
76. Santonio Holmes, WR, New York Jets (Ohio State)
78. Dallas Clark, TE, Indianapolis (Iowa)
82. LaMarr Woodley, DE, Pittsburgh (Michigan)
97. Shaun Phillips, DE, San Diego (Purdue)

By school:

Michigan: 4
Ohio State: 2
Penn State: 2
Purdue: 2
Illinois: 1
Iowa: 1
Wisconsin: 1

(In case you're wondering, the two Nebraska players on the list are No. 51 Ndamukong Suh and No. 55 Carl Nicks)

Now let's see how the Top 100 stacks up by college conference:

Big East: 16
Big Ten: 13
SEC:
13
ACC: 12
Pac-10: 11
Big 12: 7
Notre Dame: 1
Non-AQ/Small schools: 27

This just reinforces what I always said in my previous job: The best football is played in the Big East. Actually, that league greatly benefits from eight Miami Hurricanes who played their careers in the league before the program jumped ship to the ACC.

It's interesting that the Big Ten has the same amount of Top 100 players as the mighty SEC, no? I thought all the best talent was supposed to be in the SEC. Hmm. The ACC continues to underachieve despite all its talent, while the Big 12 has curiously low representation here (only five players outside of Nebraska).

I also find it fascinating that 27 percent of the supposed cream of the crop in pro football never played in an AQ conference -- Kent State, for example, has three players on the list, more than Alabama, Florida and LSU combined and more than every Big Ten school except Michigan. East Carolina and Central Florida have as many Top 100 players as Ohio State and Penn State. More evidence that recruiting stars don't always equal NFL success. (And indeed, the No. 1 player on the list had to fight tooth and nail to earn a starting job at Michigan).

If nothing else, it's fun fodder for debate.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Signing day is less than 48 hours away, but these links are ready right now. 

  • Wisconsin takes a quality-over-quantity approach toward in-state recruiting, and it's paying off for Bret Bielema, Tom Mulhern writes in the Wisconsin State Journal. 

"Since Bielema took over recruiting, prior to Barry Alvarez's final season in 2005, the Badgers have signed 14 players who have been ranked as four- or five-star recruits by Rivals.com. Nine of them were from Wisconsin. The Badgers have signed six players ranked as four-star recruits or better by Scout.com and five of them were from within the state."

  • Ohio State's 2009 recruiting class answers needs and adds depth at several key positions, Tim May and Ken Gordon write in The Columbus Dispatch.  
  • Santonio Holmes is Ohio State's greatest Super Bowl participant after Sunday night's heroics, Doug Lesmerises writes in The Cleveland Plain Dealer.
  • Michigan State has already started on its 2010 recruiting class and is targeting, among others, the cousin of former Ohio State star Vernon Gholston, Matt Dorsey writes in the Detroit Free Press.
  • Despite heavy criticism for prosecuting Penn State football players, Centre County District Attorney Michael Madeira plans to seek a second term, Adam Clark writes in The Daily Collegian.

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Saturday, wait. And Sunday always comes too late. But Friday, never hesitate ... 

"The geography of this year's class shows the shift in approach. There are six players from Florida, more than any other state, two from Arizona, one from Oklahoma, one from Louisiana and another from New Jersey. These were states that were only hit on occasion by the previous staff."

"So is Holmes a good guy or a bad guy? People are clearly much more complex than that. But when I see Holmes' comments about he once 'found cocaine in my dump truck when I was a kid, which was the worst thing ever,' I instantly realize this is a man who had to escape situations and exorcise demons I never faced in my own stable family background.

'Either you go to sell drugs or you play football,' Holmes said this week, describing his neighborhood. 'You're going to do sports or you're going to be on the corner.'"

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

When Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster checked into his hotel Tuesday morning in Shreveport, La., the woman working at the front desk spotted the Golden Gophers logo on his shirt and smiled.

"The coach from Michigan just left," she told him.

Both Minneapolis and Ann Arbor, Mich., are located more than 850 miles from Shreveport, making it an odd place for Brewster and one of his Michigan counterparts to cross paths. But these days, Big Ten coaches are just as likely to bump into one another in Shreveport, Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and Houston as they are in Chicago, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Detroit.

When Purdue head coach Danny Hope called ESPN.com on Wednesday afternoon, he was navigating a road near Bay City, Fla. An hour earlier, Wisconsin defensive line coach Charlie Partridge phoned in from the Fort Lauderdale area.

The Big Ten recruiting range is expanding far beyond the Midwest, and coaches are spending much of their time in the fertile states of the south and southeast.

If one incoming recruit symbolizes the recruiting change in the Big Ten, it's a safety expected to sign Wednesday with Wisconsin.

His name: Dezmen Southward.

His hometown: Fort Lauderdale.

"There's certainly great, great players in the Midwest, but just in terms of numbers, all you have to do is look at Division I signing day and the number of kids who play Division I out of this region here," said Partridge, who has recruited the Florida area for Wisconsin, Pitt and Iowa State, among others. "You can come down and get two to three kids who can have an impact on your program.

"People are recognizing the value of recruiting down here."

(Read full post)

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