NCF Nation: Trevor Canfield

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

National signing day is just a week away now. As teams scramble to fill out their needs and hold on to their commitments, it's a good time to look back at some of the most memorable moments in Big East recruiting over the past five years.

1. Ray Rice spurns Syracuse for Rutgers: The star running back committed to the Orange after his junior season. But after Paul Pasqualoni was fired in late December of 2004, Rice backed out of that pledge and cast his lot with the Scarlet Knights. He went on to become one of the best running backs in Big East history with three spectacular years in Piscataway, while Syracuse struggled offensively during coach Greg Robinson's tenure.

2. The 2004 quarterback coups: Louisville announced itself as a major player when it convinced local schoolboy legend Brian Brohm to stay home instead of going to Notre Dame or Tennessee. Brohm led the Cardinals to an Orange Bowl win his junior year and broke several school records. West Virginia got a quarterback in that class who was less heralded but turned out to be pretty good in his own right. Pat White pulled off a signing day surprise by switching from LSU to the Mountaineers, who told him he could stay under center instead of moving to another position. White ended his career as one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in NCAA history.

3. Pitt gets real McCoy: Pittsburgh coach Dave Wannstedt found some early success on the recruiting trail, but he really made waves by signing running back LeSean McCoy in 2007. McCoy had been recruited by all the top schools in the country before a senior-year injury prompted him to go to prep school, and then Wannstedt was able to beat out Penn State the following year. McCoy stuck around for only two seasons before bolting for the NFL, but his huge production and star power helped change the fortunes and the image of the program.

4. Cincinnati's super sleepers of '04 and '05: Nobody thought much of Mark Dantonio's first and second recruiting classes. One major recruiting service ranked the 2004 group 80th in the nation, while the following year's class was tied for 94th. But those unheralded recruits included such players as Mike Mickens, DeAngelo Smith, Dominick Goodman, Mardy Gilyard, Terrill Byrd, Trevor Canfield, Connor Barwin and the vast nucleus of a team that would win 21 games in 2007 and 2008, culminating in this season's Big East title and FedEx Orange Bowl berths. Just goes to show you what recruiting rankings are worth.

5. Louisville's 2005 and 2006 disasters: All seemed right in the world for the Cardinals on the field in 2005 and 2006. They were winning lots of games under Bobby Petrino and captured their first Big East title in '06. The recruiting classes Petrino signed were ranked among the highest in school history. But more than half of those two classes never made it to campus, suffered career-ending injuries, transferred or were dismissed for off-the-field transgressions. Several others never lived up to their billing. The program is still paying the price for those recruiting failures, having not reached a bowl game since and facing serious depth issues next season.

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

Trevor Canfield grew up in Cincinnati and followed college football rabidly. Yet for most of his life, he paid little attention to his hometown university's team.

"It wasn't a big-time program," said Canfield, now a senior offensive lineman for the Bearcats. "They were in Conference USA, and I think they went to the Humanitarian Bowl or something one year. That's about all I remember."

 
 Charles LeClaire/Getty Images
 Bearcats coach Brian Kelly has an 18-5 record since coming to Cincinnati.

Cincinnati has been largely forgettable on the national scene and even in its own backyard for much of its existence. The program snapped a 46-year bowl drought with that Humanitarian trip in 1997 and started garnering regular postseason bids in 2000. But it usually finished around 7-5 and settled for games like the Motor City or Fort Worth bowls.

Times are changing for the Bearcats. Ranked No. 22 and tied for first place in the Big East after last week's win at West Virginia, Cincinnati (7-2, 3-1) is in position to crash the BCS if it can handle its final three league opponents.

"We're a big-time program now," Canfield said. "We can't accept anything less than a Big East championship."

It will be an interesting study in role reversal when Cincinnati plays at Louisville on Friday night. The longtime rivals have often used each other as a measuring stick. Separated by about 100 miles, they're both city schools where basketball is king.

In the 1990s, though, Louisville's program kicked into high gear; the Cardinals turned themselves into BCS contenders and won the Orange Bowl in 2007. The Bearcats couldn't quite get over the hump and have lost nine of the last 10 to Louisville. Former Cincinnati coach Mark Dantonio said he modeled his program-building on what Louisville had done. Now Cincinnati is on an upward path, while the Cardinals are struggling to regain their footing.

"We're not there yet," Bearcats coach Brian Kelly said. "We have more things to accomplish still. We need more consistency as a football program. Louisville has been consistent as a program, and we haven't been yet."

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Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

Temperatures dipped into the low 40s as Cincinnati practiced at Nippert Stadium earlier this week. Trevor Canfield didn't mind.

"I hope it stays this cold for Thursday night," the senior offensive lineman said. "There aren't any palm trees around here."

You can't blame the Bearcats for seeking any possible advantage when South Florida comes to town. This is a must-win game for two teams trying to stay in the Big East hunt.

Cincinnati (5-2, 1-1) is coming off a 40-16 pounding at Connecticut and can't afford another loss, especially at home. South Florida (6-2, 1-2) is hanging on for dear life after dropping two of its past three.

"You're really behind now," South Florida coach Jim Leavitt said about his team's chances. "You have to win the rest of them and hope a lot of other things happen. Can it happen? Sure, but you've got to beat Cincinnati, that's for sure."

These two teams played one of the most exciting Big East games of the season last year. Cincinnati scored 31 points in the first quarter, then staved off a furious Bulls rally to survive 38-33.

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Brian Bennett

Where else could we start the links but with West Virginia's win over Auburn? It wasn't just that the Mountaineers won but how dominant they looked in the second half. And get this: The game lasted just two hours and 52 minutes.

West Virginia got its groove back, Mitch Vingle writes in the Charleston Gazette. Perceptions changed dramatically in just three hours, Dave Hickman says in the same paper. The offensive line deserves a lot of credit for the victory, Jack Bogaczyk says in the Charleston Daily Mail. Here are a couple of quotes from Chuck Finder's story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Offensive lineman Ryan Stanchek: "It's huge for the program. Huge for everybody. Especially for confidence. I think everybody needed a little confidence. Everybody."

Head coach Bill Stewart: "Tonight I did see that swagger back. I saw confidence oozing from everyone."

• Trevor Canfield has slimmed down, grown up and turned into one of the best offensive linemen in the Big East, John Fay writes in the Cincinnati Enquirer.

• Safety Elijah Fields could start seeing some time at cornerback, Kevin Gorman writes in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

• All the indications are that Cody Endres will start at quarterback for UConn on Saturday, Neill Ostrout writes in the Connecticut Post.

• Matt Grothe is off to the best start of his career, Gregg Becnel says in the Tampa Tribune.

• Rutgers' constantly shuffling offensive line may get some more new wrinkles for the Pittsburgh game, Tom Luicci says in The Star-Ledger.

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